Are You looking for a Consultant to help you lift up your Sales Team to another level using Sales Automation? Let me HELP YOU achieve your Goals without being too Nerdy!
I’m a passionate entrepreneur and I love life and the interaction with great people.
I share my experience with ambitious business owners and managers in the service space to increase their productivity and overall happiness.
Sales Automation Consultant
How my Business Partners & Customers see me...
HR Capital GmbH
I'm too busy to do it myself. I needed somebody that understands my needs and makes it happen. The given guidance and the marketing frameworks helped me to give my mentoring product the structure I was looking for. We were able to move fast and achieve the goals timely and in a great quality. I can highly recommend Andreas
WEDA Petroleum Dealers Limited
Andreas implemented for us a complete Lead Automation System for our Company inclusive Corporate Design and Website in less than six weeks. The Video's he produced and published in a Facebook Ad Campaign enabled us to get great leads and prospects within weeks for very little money. Thanks, we are very grateful for this great job done!
AI ONE Inc.
Andreas Koller is an extremely reliable business partner. His commitment is untiring and he is only satisfied when his customers are satisfied.
Andreas Koller is my hero and friend since 1995. Back then, he gave me my first job in the IT field and I worked with him for more then four years as his personal secretary at Entex GmbH in Switzerland. That was a truly great time in my life and I learned a lot from him. As we are both expats, Andi in Kenya and me in Bali, we were able to refresh our friendship sharing the joys and challenges of living such a life. I'm so happy, that we now will start making business again together. Since 2019, we are working on a business case for a Coconut & Honey Farm plus Eco Lodge in Kenya under my brand Balibalance. His experience and creativity in drafting business cases is simply great. I hope we will be able to start this wonderful project soon. Many thanks, Nadja!
We started our first company, copylink AG together back in 1992. We went together true all the challenges of a startup on professional and personal base. Already in 1995, he pushed for the implementation of an ERP system for our young company, knowing that this is key for a stable growth. I think that our friendship has last for all this time says it all. When I need some advice in business or also personal questions, i will not fail to consult Andreas. I wish him all the best for his new venture.
Welcome to my life!
When you consider working with me, it might be appropriate to know who I am!
I tried to summarize the milestones of my career in the following text.
You like to have the short version?
Sorry, there is no short version of my last 50 Years 😊
Even trying only to share the key points of my career made it a bit long. But I believe it’s worth your time, reading about my life and experience and it maybe it has some take away for your life.
Born in 1969
Having a happy childhood is a good start in life
Growing up as the last born in an upper middle class setup in Wollerau, Switzerland, was definitely a privileged start for my life. Having a loving mother that tuck care of me and my two older sisters and a busy dad which was usually at work during the week until late night, gave me a very healthy and loving environment. On weekends and during holiday, my dad was showing us Switzerland and the neighboring Countries Italy and France. I grew up with a lot of love and care!
I went to primary and secondary school in Wollerau. I was usually not a very good student. My love to socialize with friends was maybe bigger, then the wish to learn topics which were not really interesting to me at this point in time. However, I managed to be always a bit over “medium”. My parents and in specially my mum gave us a strong value system. We were taught to believe in god and in our self. We learned to treat the people around us, animals and nature with respect and dignity.
Learning to stand up for myself and others
I remember one Day in primary school very well, when our class 4 teacher bullied weaker boy in my class. That really troubled me. So, I decided to take it as my responsibility to help out. Standing up against the teacher and telling him that this is not correct and fair, was the action I decided to take. The teacher didn’t like it that much, hahaha.
I was sent from the class room and my parents were called for a serious meeting. He got his lesson anyway, as my mum clearly decided to appreciate my action and gave him a lecture that he might have never forgotten. Life went on.
Already during secondary school, I needed some extra money to finance my hobbies. These days I was only given little pocket money. My dad said, when you need money and you have 6 Weeks summer holiday, you should go and work something. He organized some really tough jobs in his factory, where I worked for three Weeks to finance whatever I needed. It was hard, but gave me an early feeling how life is.
Running a discotheque with friends at age 13
During secondary school we inherited the infrastructure of a youth group, kind of a discotheque called KONNEX in the basement of our secondary school. THAT WAS A WILD TIME!
The location was sound proof in an army facility that would give shelter to the people of Wollerau in case of a war situation. But we in Switzerland don’t know about war! We even went around World War 1 and 2, Switzerland as the little safe haven.
We converted that thing to our real DAY & NIGHT club. And we did it with our own hand and own money. I think we were a group of 8 young boys and girls that loved music, dancing, socializing and wild parties. To finance the operations, we did many things. Once in a Month we were allowed to run it as a real club. The entry was this Days 5.00 Swiss Francs, around 5 USD, often we got more than one hundred guests. Apart of that we organized to be the local Santa Claus service and we organized during Christmas time a facility where People come to draw candles from beeswax. That’s how we made the money to completely build and refurnish the place. I was a great time in my life.
Refusing University after Secondary School
My parents wanted me to follow the footsteps of my sisters, going to university. My grades would have worked but I told my parents that I like to go another way, I like to learn by the job. They didn’t like it so much but supported my wish and helped me to find a study place in an architectural office. I was trained for 4 Years and completed my studies in architectural technical drawings successful. This training enables you to work as an architect in Switzerland.
After graduation I still worked for one Year in the office where I was trained and found then a job in another architectural office which introduced me to CAD “Computer Aided Design”. WOW I LOVED IT
These Days, working on computers was still very new. Only few offices could afford the expensive equipment in this Days. I really enjoyed this job. I had a very ambitious boss and the business was growing fast, bringing a number of challenges.
As I was usually still a bit rebellious, I started feeling the wish to do my own thing. I felt, I should maybe start my own business. But I recognized that I have missed out on something. To run a business, my architectural skills are not very helpful.
Going back to School for Marketing, Sales and Accounting Degree
I decided to go back to school, that was definitely the first time where I chose to go to school, before it was always more of a punishment to me.
I entered a college, where I was trained for one Year in Marketing & Accounting. Paid by my daily job, I attended classes 4 evenings every Week. That was ruff, but I loved it and it really opened my mind. After one Year I was so fixed on it, that I decided to extend another one and a half Year and graduate as a Marketing & Sales expert with degree.
It was definitely during this time, where my ambitions to be an entrepreneur were born. Getting the bigger picture of running a business, doing sales, accounting and business techniques made my head spinning.
Drafting my first business plans with 21 Years of age
Together with two close friends from our KONNEX venture, we started drafting business cases. The decision was made, we said, we like to start our first business in the age of 21 Years.
After drafting and dropping several ideas, inclusive a pizza service, Guido Breuss, Philipp Fisler and me settled for a business case, building one of the first digital printing and scanning centre for architects and engineers using big format plotters. At my last job I learned that with the upcoming CAD era, smaller architectural offices will not be able to invest 100’000.- USD to buy a plotter, they will look for a service instead.
This Days, Guido Breuss and myself were sharing a posh 3-bedroom apartment that was owned by my boss and we got it for a favorable price. We felt like the world is ours! We could sit the half night, drafting our plans, drinking a class or more a bottle of wine, mastering our ideas.
Looking out for capital the first time
Having “finalized” our initial plan, we thought we can make it with a starting capital of 50’000.- Swiss Francs. But where will we get it from. Of course, later we learned the hard way that this will not be enough. However, we decided to talk to our parents!
Uuuuh, my parents didn’t like the idea of me starting a business with 21 Years. They said, you don’t know anything about business, your life was more about making party in the last 5 Years, you will not make it, we will not give you money for that. As the discussion of my partners ended closely in the same way, we felt miserable.
It was so sad, we worked so hard to come up with our plan and our parents didn’t believe in us at this point. It was devastating!!!
We said, no matter what they think, we will do it anyway. Around one month later, after talking to several possible investors, we convinced the boss of Guido Breuss to give us a loan of 50’000.- Swiss Francs. YEAH, WE DID IT AND WE FELT LIKE OWNING THE WORLD!
copyLink AG, our first Company
Ok, let’s do it….
We incorporated copylink AG in 1992. I remember the Day where I went to the office of my boss to quit the job. He told me not to quit and offered me more salary. I told him that my mind is set and that I would wish to get him as one of our first customers. He didn’t like it seeing me going, he never gave me a job but purchased a plotter for 120’000.- Swiss Francs. That was not exactly what I have planned in my head with him. OF COURSE, WE HAD HIM AS A CUSTOMER IN OUR BUSINESS-PLAN!
Whatever, we started anyway, and with all the up’s and downs we survived and had soon some few employees in our team. It was super intensive, permanently close to a breakdown and always finding a new promising opportunity or customer in the last moment to survive and grow.
Biggest lesson we learned: NEVER EVER GIVE UP! NEVER!
The copylink AG https://copylink.ch were run by my initial partner Guido Breuss successfully until early 2019 as a fully-fledged digital copy and scan center and was converted in to Digitalgut AG now, to focus more on digitization of plans for architects, engineers and archives. https://digitalgut.ch
Guido Breuss is until today one of my best friends and we still do some business together and share about our life’s ups and downs and the essential meaning of life.
Venturing into the World of ICT, Internet and Software Development
Our parents were kind of impressed how we progress, but still not believing that we will completely make it. Our party friends couldn’t believe, that we can run a company that way.
It was somewhere in 1994, where a close friend of mine, Hanspeter Lassing, a highly gifted software nerd approached me and said; I like the way you people have built copylink AG, why are we not building a software engineering company, we could be a great team!
Whaaa, what is going on?!?
He told me, that he would like me to be the CEO OF A SOFTWARE COMPANY, CRAZY, I thought?!? This Days I had definitely no idea of software development at all. But the idea was tempting to me.
Entex GmbH was born in 1994
Believe it or not, we founded the Entex GmbH still in 1994. Guido Breuss, Philipp Fisler and me used some little profits from copylink AG and founded a Software Engineering and Internet Company together with Hanspeter Lassnig and two other Software engineers Stefan Kessler and Roger Pidoux. We rented some additional office space right next to the copyLink offices and I was appointed as the CEO to run the show. In the beginning I was working kind of two jobs, still building on copyLink AG with Guido and starting up in a completely new and exciting new field. THAT WAS WILD AND EXITING!!!
I was watching Hanspeter Lassnig’s skills since a while. He was really gifted, a bit the hacker nerd type, and my feeling was that it can work with his skills to build a great company.
We focused on software development projects on one side and we ventured into the very young internet business.
Explaining this thing called Internet to Business Owners in 1994
The Internet was still new and nobody imagined that it will change the word
I remember very well when we held weekly internet workshop in 1995, where we explained to small business owners what this thing called internet is. It was very funny. We usually had 3 to 7 business owners attending the workshops.
Most of them said, aaahhh, this internet thing is something for nerds to play around, it will never affect our business.
I said, well, the internet might change your lives in a very short time in a way you can’t imagine today. AND THAT’S WHAT HAPPEN!
ntX WebsiteBuilder and ntX Voice Control in 1995
We developed in 1995 one of the worldwide first website builder, called ntX WebsiteBuilder and we brought ntX Voice Control to the market, a today well know concept to receive calls and handle them. Unfortunately, the market was not yet ready for our future staff, we first had to educate our customers and it has taken some time until we started making money out of it.
Looking for the BIG FISH
We needed big software development contracts to sustain us, and we needed them fast! These days, my sister Daniela was working in the biggest data research company in Switzerland called IHA Gfm, she was running their internal development team.
On Day she told me that a big customer of her, Coca Cola Switzerland, is looking for a software engineering company for a bigger project.
I remember that Day very well! She said, I can connect you, but I will treat you as every other software company we know, when you fail us, you will be sucked! That was kind of scary! Hansi and me nearly peed in our pants that Day. I still had no idea of software development and Hansi the nerd, was not very communicative. So I knew it will be on me to represent Entex as good as I can.
How to pitch Coca Cola
One week later the big day arrived, the CEO, head of Development and head of Accounts of Coca Cola Switzerland came to our office. Me and Hansi pitched them with all we knew at this point and got awarded with a fat contract only two months after the start of the Entex GmbH. With the successful delivery of this project within the given timelines, we had a strong testimony that built the foundation for the growth of Entex GmbH. We got great contracts which allowed us to grow.
In the following three Years we had a fast, maybe sometimes too fast grow to a team of 13 employees. I prepared presentations at night and pitched new customers during day time, it was wild.
During this time, we had a principal called “Work hard, Party hard”. I don’t even know how I survived this time. IT WAS CRAZY STAFF!
Disagreement and breakup with my partners
It was then two Years later in 1997, when we got some disagreements within the six partners with the same voting powers. I was still the CEO, put my partners claimed that I’m ruling to hard and they like to have more say in the decision-making processes.
In a board meeting I was given an ultimatum, that they like to see Stefan Kessler, one of our developers to join me as a second director. At this point, after all my sleepless nights to bring the company up to this state, I had a problem with that!
A painful decision to leave my loved team and company
After sleeping it over, I decided that it might be the right time to move on to new grounds. My partners were surprised that I decided to live Entex GmbH and copylink AG for them and start up again from scratch. I handed over my shares to them and moved on. THAT WAS MAYBE NOT THE SMARTEST MOVE 😊 But shit happens anyway.
The Entex GmbH is still run by Stefan Kessler up to today with around 10 employees. All the other partners departed later in time. The company offers a wide range of internet services successfully. AND I STILL FEEL IT IS A BIT MY BABY. https://entex.ch
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Making a new start can be hard
Of course, I didn’t leave with completely empty hands. I had a plan! Philipp Fisler, also an Entex and copylink Partner decided to come with me and we partnered up with Walter Diggelmann and incorporated in 1997 the PPM Data Management AG in Zürich and the PPM Data Management & Consulting GmbH in Berlin with another friend called Andreas Thiele.
I knew Walter since a while and we did some business together related to Entex GmbH. Walter was this Days more of a hardcore sales man, my job was to make the technical projects work. We focused the business on data capturing solutions, archiving software, large scale document scanning and OCR projects in Switzerland with the Government in in Germany largely with RWE and the Media Industry.
We deed some cool projects, but 1997 and 1998 was still kind of boring to me. Frankly to say, I missed the cool team spirit and lifestyle we had during the Entex GmbH times. Starting up again was straining and we were struggling with the build of the new venture.
But I learned to work outside Switzerland in Germany, Berlin, with a team that came mostly from eastern Germany. It was the time shortly after the fall of the great wall in Berlin, it was kind of a gold digger time there. This Days we had a team of five in Switzerland and around eight in Eastern Berlin.
Selling luxury Swiss Wrist Watches over the Internet
In early 1999 we got closer with a guy we knew since quite a while. Patrick Lo Guidice is an expert in art, watches, and all other kind of bling bling things. He has an unbelievable know how and benefits from a photographic memory. You can give him a random watch and in seconds he can say if this Rolex or other peace of art is real or fake, with 100% certainty.
Philipp Fisler, the partner that came with me from the Entex GmbH breakup, really felt for the trade with luxury Watches. So, we funded the Company Rattrapante GmbH together with Patrick Lo Guidice.
My job was to build an internet portal to market the wrist watches, Philipp was doing the sales and consultancy part and Patrick helped with all his know-how and contacts to build the business.
It was a really cool thing, selling watches starting at 2000.- USD up to 30’000.-, 50’000.- USD over the internet. We did quite well. The biggest achievement was the trade of a very rare Vacheron Constantin watch for something over USD 530’000.- to a German customer.
Trading luxury goods was a completely new experience. I’m telling you; some people have serious money 😊
I think we sold Rattrapante in 2003 to one of our biggest suppliers, as Philipp decided to move his career in another direction. When you are looking for a great original wrist watch, Rolf Straessle will get you the hot cookies under https://rattrapante.com
You can say thank you later…
Playing the .com Internet Bubble
It was about to get exiting again! Walter Diggelmann made related to a German contract we had a contact with a big consulting agency called Agamus Consult in Starnberg, Munich.
We started mingling with Agamus in early 1999. Agamus was this bright shining thing for every entrepreneur. 50 to 60 high grade business consultants and an awesome list of great customers they serve with high end consultancy service like supply chain management, lean management, product life-cycle management was supper tempting to us. Running their operation in this posh glass building in Starnberg, we were definitely blended from their presence.
Walter did some specific consulting jobs with them related to our PPM portfolio and established us as ICT specialists there. After a short while, we suggested to them to enter the booming market of .com projects. The owner liked us and soon later net-venture.de was incorporated as a venture capitalist company. Walter was appointed as one of the directors together with a great lawyer out of there group called Alexander Rossner.
The owner and investor but a bit more than 50 Million Euro in the pot and our job was to find valid .com startups to finance and guide them. IT WAS A MORE THEN EXITING TIME.
I was usually two Days a Week in Starnberg to see pitches of possible startups and the rest of the Week back in Zürich, where we agreed to build a development center for net-venture, to assist selected startups with software engineering.
Analyzing hundreds of startup pitches
We saw so many business cases and .com ideas during this time, definitely several hundreds. Some really nice ones, many very hopeless cases, I learned a lot during this time. Net-Venture financed during this time 32 startups and five of them were given to me (PPM) for development in our think tank in Zürich Altstetten. We had around 28 Software Engineers on our payroll and two other companies that served mainly Swiss Banks with another 11 Software Engineers, that shared 500 m2 office space with us. THAT WAS A NICE AND CRAZY TIME!
AND THEN, IT GOT NASTY…
The big worldwide .com bubble melt down
In the late 2001, investors participating in the .com bubble all over the world started realizing, that the monster they build will most likely come down in an ugly way. Many startups, also in our portfolio grew to fast with too much money involved and not enough substance to survive a real-world economy. Everyone was blended from the wonderful opportunity that the internet is offering.
Long story short…
Our investor, together with many others all over the world decided to take a full break at the mission and stopped the supply of money. Unfortunately, without telling us! When we recognized what was coming down, it was too late. The startups that we were supplying with software development run dry of money very fast and were not able to pay our bills. I was sitting in Zurich in a 500m2 luxury office with a five-year contract and 28 high paid software engineers on my pay roll and 95% of my revenue felt away from one day to the other.
I was not ready to let go, a big mistake…
Stupidly, I tried to fix it with looking for new contracts or funds, missing the moment to terminate the employee contracts.
3 Month later we were dead, bankruptcy, I lost everything I had and much more…. BOOOOM!
Walter was sagged in net-venture.com, we were left standing on the street with NOTHING.
Some of my employees went to court to sue me while they didn’t get paid the last two months. Some of them earned for two Years more than 23’000 CHF / Month, but still felt to finish me completely was the right thing to do.
Picking the parachute and spring…
My last step, around 1 Month before the complete breakdown, I decided to cut out some money from somewhere and incorporated Trentsetter GmbH as a parachute for what is about to come down.
Also Walter secured a parachute, he was able to rescue his most loved startup project called ai-one, an AI solution for text and pattern recognition. It will later in my life again matter to me as I’m also a little shareholder inside there.
Understanding the nature of BUBBLES
Yes, I had to learn it the hard way. When I look back at the last 30 Years, there is always a BUBBLE active. This BUBBLES are part of the system that runs our world. The Internet .com BUBBLE, The Mortgage BUBBLE, The Crypo Currency BUBBLE and be aware that this bubble was most likely not yet finished and at the moment the CO2 BUBBLE.
BUBBLES are usually designed to consolidate and change the World in one or the other way, always benefiting the people on top of the pyramid.
Experiencing the .com BUBBLE was most likely one of the biggest lessons I learned. Never get too excited and have the exit always well planned.
Licking wounds and learning how to walk again!
The after maths of the bankruptcy was definitely the hardest lesson, I went true in my career. I worked since 2001, nearly without holidays, 13 to 16-hour a Day and then, within a Month I lost everything.
THAT WAS SO PAINFULL, BUT IT WAS ALSO NOT THE END
I think there is only one good thing I got out of it! I learned who is really a friend and who is only around me to benefit. Unfortunately, in the end of this phase of my life there was not many friends remaining. But some few very good ones remained and of course my family that helped me a lot true this hard time.
I ended up with a shit load of depts on my personal account and a mark on my back-head reading, I had a bankruptcy case. Unfortunately, the law in Europe is harder on that, then it is in the USA.
When you ever experience a situation like that, consider to quit in the right moment to protect what is left. My ambition to try to fix the situation made it even worth. In the end I paid back depts for 7 good Years until I finished them. 7 Years of having to balance the development of my little Company Trentsetter GmbH, paying rent and other stuff and slowly by slowly clear my depts. THAT’S HARD AND EXAUSTING!
Personal development and understanding the nature of life
During this time, I found myself several times hitting all my personal limits. In such situations you have to go into yourself and reset your mind for a new and healthy start. That was not easy for me!
I had to find ways to forget what happened and to reset my mind. This spiritual journey made me stronger that I ever was and I learned a lot about myself and this world.
Looking back today I see this time as a big gift! But it seriously has taken me some time to come to this conclusion.
Enough crying, let’s move on!
I’m still here, many new lessons later.
It was during this time in 2002 when I met my first wife in Switzerland. Her origin is Kenya, but she was already living in Switzerland since many Years. She also went true hard times and we made our way together to a better future.
Experiencing the Third World in Kenya
In 2003 I traveled then with her the first time to Kenya for a 4 Week Holiday. Wuaaa, I never had such long holidays before in my life and it was a game changer for me. I was before a bit in Cuba and shortly in India, but more as a conventional tourist. This time I was brought to a family environment in rural Kenya to a town called Eldoret.
Soon I learned, that my life in Switzerland, with all the difficulties I went true, was still like a walk in the park 😊 compared with what some people in Africa have to overcome. THAT REALLY CHANGED MY VIEW OF REALITY AND LIFE!
This four Weeks was like a FULL RESET. We came back to Switzerland relaxed and with new motivation. After this holiday I set my mind and said, their needs to be four Weeks holiday every Year, and that’s exactly what we did.
New Motivation? YEAH new business of course…
My wife and me decided to go together for a “children day care” training and started immediately after the training a children day care space in our house called “Kinder Paradiesli” or children’s paradise.
Of course, that was only a side job for me beside running Trentsetter GmbH. It was meant to create a little business for my wife, working with children.
It was great, I was running Trentsetter GmbH from my home office, alone without employees. I think I had enough from employees for the moment. My wife was running the children day care and soon we had a group of 5 children between 2 and 5 Years that spent their Days daily with us. My wife loved it!
Trentsetter GmbH was doing quite well and I had peace of mind. I offered a full range of internet services. Hosting, Website Development, Online Backup Services, a bit of consulting and I run a little datacentre together with three partners in the same field. When I needed extra resources, I worked with a group of freelancers.
A short exercise to be employed 😊
In 2003 I started reselling a Swiss ERP product call BW2 https://www.businesswideweb.com/ which was developed by a long-time friend out of the times in Entex, called Cyrill Jenni. I did customer evaluation and implementation for small business up to 30 employees.
On a given point in 2005, BW2 started scaling their team and offered me a position as product manager. The offer was tempting, as they agreed that I can still run Trentsetter on the side.
The second time in my life I got employment and started working there immediately. You may guess it, It didn’t really last for long, after 7 Month I felt not being on the right place. I usually like to do it my way and decided to go back and work as a free reseller again in Trentsetter for BW2.
LESSON LEARNED, I’M PASSIONATE SELF EMPLOYEED!
Time for a BIG CHANGE!
I believe it was then back in 2006, when we spent again our December holidays in Kenya, as I started to think about a BIG CHANGE. I was thinking about settling in Kenya for good! There are so many things that have to be fixed in Kenya, that could be a paradise for me, I thought. 😊
Sooo, I said, it’s time to bring a company in place here. Having learned already that in Kenya everything takes a bit longer, I initialized the registration of Swiss Kenko Company Limited with a lawyer before I left back to Switzerland. And it happened, the Company got registered even in my absence.
Of course, I learned in the past, that it is always good to have a Company ready somewhere. In the following two years I started slowly by slowly to make Trentsetter GmbH ready to be run from remote in future.
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Leaving Switzerland in late 2008 for good…
Loaded with two twenty-foot container with all my belongings, we said byebye to the developed word in Switzerland and went into the biggest adventure ever, settling in Eldoret Kenya, a city of farmers and runners in the highlands of Kenya, 2200 Meter over sea level.
When we reached, I gave myself three-month time to settle and think about what next. What can I do in the promised land Kenya?
The biggest challenge for the start…. The internet in Kenya is still USELESS
Still running the operation of Trentsetter from remote was in the first two years kind of a nightmare. I think I tried every single Internet Provider here, looking for a well working solution. Negative, paying a lot of money for an Internet link that was worse than what we had in 1992 in Switzerland. BUT IT STILL WORKED, USING A LOT OF PATIENCE, CLICK, WAIT, CLICK, WAIT.
My customers remained happy, the pain was only on me, so nothing serious. I paid in the beginning up to 500.- USD / Month for 256kb leased line which was never reliable. Since 2014, when we got fiber optic connections, the situation improved dramatically and brought the whole Kenyan economy to another level. Today I enjoy a leased line with 25 Mbits up/down for less than 50.- USD / Month.
Why not being a farmer a bit? Let’s try it… 😊
When we arrived here, we settled on the family land of my wife, where she has built a nice house some years back. The house stays on a six-acre plot, around 18 km away from Eldoret, a fast-growing town with a population of around 350000 people.
The farm was completely underutilized, only ¾ acres were usually planted with maize to feed the family and their basic needs.
I knew that this will not feed me and the family in future with our lifestyle, but I liked the idea to have our own healthy food and some extra income to run the big family.
So, we build some greenhouses for tomatoes, implemented some innovative way of growing maize called “push & pull”. Adding some more quality cows, a field for horticulture under irrigation, bananas and some chicken. Google is great, I found many smart solution by checking the internet.
THAT WAS A LOT OF FUN AND A TOTALLY NEW EXPERIENCE FOR ME, NATURE IS SIMPLY GREAT.
I think we did it well! Soon the Ministry of Agriculture of Kenya showed up and wished to participate, so that we can do a field day in the end of the season to educate rural farmers.
That’s exactly what we did, in 2011 we hosted the field Day in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture. We started selling our product on the local marked and never missed having food in the house.
Was it a good business? NOPE, IT WASN’T, BUT IT IS HEALTHY FOOD for the family and you know what?
Award of being the second-best small-scale farm in Kenya
The Ministry of Agriculture awarded us to be the second-best small-scale farm in Kenya in this Year. COOL, I LOVED IT!
But as I’m not the guy that is digging the land on my own, I was still looking for a venture I could start here in Kenya.
Walter is back with a project from AI-ONE
One Day in 2011, my long-time business partner and friend Walter called me! When you followed the story closely, you know which one it is…. 😊
Even going together true the toughest times, we never lost track and I always had an interest in his ai-one project, that he rescued out of this time.
He was looking for outsourcing resources in software engineering and ask me, if there are resources available in Kenya. India was already no longer lucrative and of course he knew that I might be able to run the projects here for him. Walter told me, that his neural network technology is still in an evolutionary state, and it is about gaining experience with the technology.
Building a little Software Outsourcing Hub in Kenya
I already did some research in this area before here in Kenya and said, when you give me a good contract, I build a little team here. It didn’t really plan to be back in IT and Software Engineering here in Kenya, but it is the market I know.
So, I looked for an office in Eldoret Town and started recruitment for young software engineers. Eldoret has a big University and produces many young talents in my market. Kenyans are extremely hard working and know how to take an opportunity.
There was no other Software Engineering Company in Eldoret at this time, so I was able to pick the best guys directly after their graduation. I think I interviewed more than one hundred developers before I hired four in the first phase.
Slowly molding the team
Still, bringing young engineers up to swiss standards, coming directly from university was an intensive task. Luckily, three out of the four from the first round of recruitment did very well. They worked day and night to come up with solutions for Walters needs. We had a great time and we made some good money; I really loved this time.
Working together with this young Kenyan Man and Women showed me a lot about how they think and work. Kenyans have a lot of respect towards their boss or generally the older generation.
Better don’t say anything, than saying anything wrong…
That was a new experience to me. In Europe, Software Engineers can be little Divas that think you can’t do without them. So, you will never miss negative critics from them. 😊
Usually on our weekly team meeting, I requested them to open up to me and share their comments with me on what we can do different, better. I said, I’m new here in Kenya, you have to tell me what you think!
It was hard for them, I learned that they feared to lose their job, when they critic me. That was a new experience to me. It has taken me more than two Years, until three out of the team of 12 started actively coming to my office to suggest something. Ben Mosong, Billy Ochingwa and Cyrus Mushier started actively participating with input. That was a great achievement and it helped a lot for the development of the company.
The problem of Water supply
Coming to Africa, you will learn very fast, that a steady water supply is not given to everyone. In 2012, I decided to do something in this area to improve the situation at least a little. When you go to rural areas in Kenya, there are still many places where water is not supplied to the households or the water quality is very bad.
Mainly Women carry water in canes, sometimes several kilometers to their houses to wash, shower and cook, often several times a Day. My wish was to do something in this area and I opened a little office in Bungoma together with an older Water Engineer that I met during my early time here.
Somewhere on my journey, I met a senior water engineer called Martin. He was a very lovely guy and highly skilled and gifted. He even built complete pumps for special application on his own, often out of crap.
Having him on hand, I felt we can do something together.
Building a Water Supply for 3000 Residents in Funula
We did several smaller water projects and one big project in Funula, Busia County. There was a water spring where the citizens usually went to fetch water. The water quality was great, but the distance to walk very long.
So, we successfully tendered and got awarded the contract for a quite challenging project. We constructed a pump house and installed a heavy pump that carries the water up to the mountain with a pipeline of around 1 km and then supplies seven little water kiosks downhill by gravity.
That was a very helpful project where a population of nearly 3000 residents got their water delivered closer to their homes.
The project was financed by Lake Victoria North Water Service Board. We worked around four Month on the project in a challenging rural environment.
Unfortunately, my water engineer and friend got sick during the project and died shortly later on Aids. It was a sad time and left me with the tricky task to finish the project without him. I did this kind of projects mainly, while I knew that I can count on Martin. When he died, I decided to finish that project and don’t go into other construction project of this type. May he rest in peace.
Trying the local market with the new County Governments in Kenya
In 2013, the Kenyan Government changed their structure from a centralized Government run in Nairobi to a newly implemented County Government structure with 47 Counties.
My feeling was, that this could be a good opportunity to also supply the local market with our ICT and Software Engineering skills. The counties needed all kind of services.
Unhealthy procurement law as a failure
But there was one key problem, the government of Kenya has an unhealthy procurement law the gave me a hard time. A procurement law that says, you need to go for the lowest bidder might be OK, when you procure a pencil, a car or a copy machine, but for software applications that should be smart and last for long, it is a nightmare.
Secondly, there was no awareness, that ICT systems need to be maintained.
However, as you might assume, I still tried to make it anyway….
A capital mistake and a big lesson to learn 😊
Being a father the first time with 43 Years of age
In May 2013, my loved daughter Noela was born. THAT WAS CRACY. I was always so busy during all the Years, having a child was for long not written on my bucket list.
Having this little girl in my arms, seeing her making her first steps, made me really happy. Going to Kindergarten, starting class one, losing her first teeth. Having a child is really a gift.
It breaks your routine of adult hood and allows you to be a child again sometimes. I’m really thankful to my second five that she gave me this gift and on top two lovely daughters, Kelly and Valmy, that she brought into our relationship.
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SANYIKO FLEET, SANYIKO REVENUE, SANYIKO ERP
I was still a reseller and fan of the BW2 ERP developer framework and I decided to agree with Cyrill Jenni to make an adoption of the product for the Kenyan market with our own brand called SANYIKO ERP.
In the following two Years we put a lot of effort in the development of a fully-fledged revenue collection and fleet management system based on the BW2 developer framework. The framework is a real Swiss Quality Product and we trained our engineers to develop and modify modules to the local needs.
The Tender Nightmare
It was then in 2014, we had a good basic version ready for the market, when the tenders for all the counties started coming out, asking for exactly what we had prepared. We tendered in Uasin Gishu County, Kericho, Bomet, Kakamega, Elgeyo Marakwet and Baringo. In short, all location surrounding our location in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County. That was a lot of work as these tender requirements are extensive, often several hundred pages big. I worked like a donkey.
And the work at first seem to pay out. Having usually around 33 to 40 competitors bidding on the revenue collection systems, we made it to the last three bidders in four Counties. It was a long process, first presentation, lobbying, eating and drinking the whole night with influencer's and decision makers, second presentation, again a lot of eating and drinking, sweet talking, … it was intensive and expensive, my liver and kidney is still crying loudly. 😊
We did finally pilot projects in three Counties. The biggest one in Kericho County, where we were supposed to do revenue collection for six weeks, of course on our costs, in a real time environment. So did kind of a full system implementation for free, we traveled with our team of 12 people to Kericho and did what we were asked for. Our team and the SANYIKO REVENUE collection system did great!
In all the areas we collected revenue during this piloting period, we were able to increase the revenue at least 30%, sometimes even 50% against their conventional method and statistics. It was mind blowing and we saw that we did much better than our competitors. We gained confidence and thought, that’s it, we will get it.
Long story short…
WE FINALLY DIDN’T GET ONE OF ALL THE CONTRACTS ☹
I think it would be wrong and maybe even dangerous for me to explain here what exactly happened. I only say that much, CORRUPTION IS A BIG PROBLEM HERE, HINDERING SUSTAINABLE AND LASTING DEVELOPMENT.
My mindset always was, that when you have the best product, you will find customers. An that’s what we have built. Our revenue collection system for the Counties would have been a game changer ensuring save and sustainable revenue collection, but unfortunately that is not yet how the Government here operates.
Mistakenly promising a temper proof system, a big mistake!
When I later reflected on the mess, I found that maybe the worst mistake I did on the final presentations was, that I pointed out so strongly, that our SANYIKO REVENUE System is temper proof and every trial to temper with it will leave traces from the people involved. That was maybe not that smart in a Country like Kenya.
After this experience, I decided not to move on with the wish to serve the Counties and reduced the team a bit to a manageable size. It made me really happy that all my developers got the necessary skills to find great jobs. Some got jobs in the USA, Australia, South Africa, others grew their careers in big companies in Nairobi and some started even their own companies.
I still work with three of them, but today more on a freelance basis. That works good for me and good for them. And even more important, I have a great relationship with many of them. Great guys, I love it!
Corruption is the cancer finishing Africa
Coming from Switzerland, where we simply don’t know the meaning of corruption, I had to learn some big lessons here. In Kenya corruption is nearly everywhere! You pay the police on the road to close their eyes, you pay to get a job, you pay to get contracts, you pay to get paid for the contract you perfectly delivered, you pay to get out of the contract you have not perfectly delivered, you pay to get the exams for children, you pay to get your own birth certificate, you pay the tax collector to close his eyes, and it goes on and on and on….
Leaders are receiving big kickbacks for awarding overprices government contracts. I think there is a reason that the Chinese people are so successful in Africa, they know how to do it and they don’t care, they are simply used to it.
Searching for a remedy to fix corruption
My two sisters visited me some years ago here in Kenya for holiday. Listening to all the stories I had was shocking for them and they ask me, Andreas, what do you think could end corruption in Kenya?
You have to know that my sisters know me as a humble and soft-hearted person, that’s why my answer really shocked them!
I said, as long as the president of Kenya is not starting to hang top level officials that are court in corruption or shoot them on a wall on live TV, starting from top down, corruption will never end in this Country.
My sisters looked at me and said, Andreas how can you be so rude? We can not hang people in this world in 2017!
My answer was simple: You ask me what would end corruption here, and I gave you the remedy. Corruption here is so deep rooted, only seriously painful and strict drastic measures will change that. Ruanda did it in a few Years, giving high level officials strictly heavy penalties in jail and it worked fine.
Here in Kenya it is really miserable, every day in the news, there is a new case where often billions of Kenya Shillings got lost in another funny deal. I simply had stop watching news, it does not add value to my life.
Water purification plant “Maji Yangu” in Kericho County
During the pilot project in Kericho, I found some other areas that really suffer over water. There are wells, but the water is salty resulting in a whole population having brown teeth’s and various health issues.
Together with the help of my dear friend Carlo Blarer, my Family and some few fundraising activities, we were able to come up with a little purification plant in Kericho. The aim is to supply simple water kiosks spread around using a water tanker and a tractor. The water kiosks are run my small local entrepreneurs that buy the water from us and resell it to the local population with profit.
We called the project Maji Yangu, what means in short “My Water”. We positioned the plant in Kericho, where that water quality is favourable and supplied the places in direction Kisumu called Awasi, Ahero and others.
The project has a high impact, even when the locals complain that a project that is run by a white man should give water for free. Whatever, that also a deep culture here, that the charity organisation messed their minds and gave to many things for free. I personally don’t believe in that, as it is not sustainable over time.
After competition, I handed the project over to the people I built it with. Water is life, I’m still involved in another bigger water project that is waiting to be funded. Seeing the faces of people that receive clean water on a daily bases nearby is priceless.
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The private sector is operating differently!
Every Kenyan knows the problem! Corruption in Government is killing us. But still we have a quite fast-growing economy here, that is doing fairly well, considering the generally challenging environment.
In the private sector, people are looking for quality and reliable people. In the last few Years, I was able to position myself in a few companies as a high-level consultant and coach in marketing and ICT. My wide range of knowledge and experience in different sectors are very helpful today.
Helping business owners to improve on their structures, showing them new ways to market their products and guiding them to overcome all kind of challenges is making me very happy.
I usually act as external coach and consultant together with the owners or managers of such companies. My focus lays in conceptional ideas for their business development, mainly around strategies, marketing, sales and process automation to improve productivity. That’s what I’m good in!
Sales Automation Consulting & Implementation
You are reading my story most likely, while you are looking for any kind of help for your Company. You are owning a business or you are a sales / marketing manager or director of a given Company.
When you followed my story closely, I think you know now that I don’t fear any challenge. I have learned to overcome any challenge given in my life. It became my passion to help other entrepreneur in their mission and share my knowledge and experience for the bigger goal.
If you feel that I could be an asset to you or your venture, I happily invite you for an open talk, where we learn to know each other better and see, if we could have a match.
I’m looking forward to your call, where I will share more about my Coaching and Consultancy services. Depending on your wishes, I offer coaching, where I only act as an advisor, or I can do it with you and your team, or I do some tasks completely for you with my team.