I have noticed with concern that those who never take risks in Tech Sector in Kenya, are the biggest critics of those that do.
— Sam Gichuru (@SamGichuru) October 21, 2014
In other words there are too many critics of the Kenyan young tech space. And that is not good according to Sam Gichuru, the CEO of Nailab. So first who are these? Who are these non-risk takers? Apart from the fact that I believe there are some values in the so called negativity, that statement has so many wrong assumptions behind it.
Assumption 1: That you can spot non risk takers from the street. The assumption is you can look at people and straight away you are able to tell that they are not risk takers .This is not right in many levels especially when dealing with young ecosystem like what we have in Kenya. There those who seems to be risk takers on the outside but after one failure they do run away. There are many examples of such in Kenya. Go back to three years ago and there were those who were all about start-ups and how they are going to change the world, one failure later and now they comfortably employed somewhere. That is not a bad thing but if you assumed then that they are risk takers, then you were wrong then and still wrong now.
Assumption 2: That Kenyans owe risk takers something. “Leave us alone do you see we are doing something and you are doing nothing.” That is the sound of an entitlement. There two people here, risk taker and non-risk taker, from any angle they are both the same. On one side, the risk taker go out of his/her to build something, after which if it successful he/she gets all the glory and money. There is no time the risk taker will call the non-risk taker to share the glory and money with him/her. In other words the risk taker is not doing a charity work but working to fulfill his/her own dream. Fair enough but to assume that when you are taking risks the other people who are not doing so owe you something, is simply naive. They don’t.
Assumption 3: If you are not risk taker in tech space, you are not a risk taker at all. The great thing about technology is that it has empowered many shades of people from different walks of life and enable them to both see and talk. Many farmers/cooks/fishmongers can all talk very well about what they see happening in the tech space. So someone might not be a risk taker in tech space but could be a big risk taker in other fields. Then there is the fact that the so called risk takers, are entrepreneurs who need to sell their technology to someone. Some of these people who are considered as non-risk takers end up to be the buyers of the technology done or led by the risk takers. They are the customers and as the famous saying goes, customer is always right. Warning…..when customer speaks just shut up and listen.
That a side, I think there are many reasons why Sam Gichuru should leave the critics to criticize whatever they want to, while the doers(risk takers) to continue doing their things. The following are some of them:
- You are doing something when people start talking about it. Most critics are calculating people, they don’t just wake up and start criticising a nobody. There is no value in that at all. They go for a subject that mean something to other people, or people who mean something to other people. Immediately such people stop talking about what you are doing, then you need to stop and ask why. For that I say, because the non-risk takers are criticizing the risk takers, then it means the risk takers are doing something.
- There so many naive people in the tech space that need harsher criticisms than what we see at the moment. Kenyan tech space is full of young Kenyans, some are fresh graduate who think they know it all. The problem is, on top of being naive, most of them are very ignorant and lazy. They walk around with know it all attitude and are not ready to listen to anyone. That is why you go to a pitching event and there is nothing new to see or listen to. Most of them don’t do any research, don’t read at all and their work are just copy paste. For example ten years down the line you still hear people talking of Safaricom stealing their ideas….when will they ever learn? At this point when you say such should not be criticized, then I think you are not helping the space but making it more stupid.
- They call it risk taking for a reason. By definition a risk taker is someone who risks loss or injury in the hope of gain or excitement. I believe such a person does not need babysitting. If it reaches a point that you cannot achieve your dreams because of a bunch of critics then you are not cut out for it. If Kenyan tech space cannot grow because of a few naysayers here and there, then completely there is no need for it to exist.
- “Oooh don’t be negative, we only want constructive criticism”. I think this the biggest con statement to ever been said by whoever said it. The thing is, if there is a fault somewhere there is a fault and whether you are told nicely or in a strong language, it does not matter. If you have a leaking roof, it is a leaking roof. You need to hear the fact that your roof is leaking and fix it. All in all there are those who are malicious, and we are going to talk about them in a bit.
- It is their opinion. Everyone hold an opinion about something, things or whatever and it is impossible to dictate what type of opinion people should hold about you. The only way to shape the people’s opinion is to go on the extreme ends. Either become a big success or a big failure.
- Kenyans like crappy content. No need to explain that…in other words negativity thrives
Having said all that, it should be known that not all critics are genuine. Here the type of critics you will find in Kenyan online space
- Genuine Critics. These are the people that you need to listen to. They will tell you straight away what you are doing wrong. That does not mean they are right anyway or by any means. Actually some of the opinions are shaped in particular way due to the fact that they looking at things through outsiders point of view and might not understand fully why some things work the way they are . The good thing about them is that their intentions are always in the positive side. Filter what they are saying and see what can help your course. But at the end, you are the owner of your dream, and you are the one who knows where the end goal is. So genuine or not do things you own way but don’t miss the opportunity to learn.
- Malicious Critics. These are the guys who know they have the platform and are using it intentionally to harm others. They thrive in bullying and taking others down without any apparent reason. Ignore.
- Play Dirty Critics. These ones work in clicks. They use the online platform to discrete their competitors. Let say that a company A is not their client, but a client of company X which is their competitor. If they see something with company A, they normally go out of their way to create a fault and magnify it to a crisis level, knowing well that the company X will be blamed for that. Meanwhile they are busy courting Company A. Stupid way to do things.
- Foot Soldiers Critics. They are like sheep, and they do work overtime to look good on the eyes the boss or some rich guy. Say something about the boss or the rich guy and they are after you. These are the lot that think that if you spend huge money, a million or something then your opinion matters more than those individuals who spend ten shillings. It is big man’s syndrome country, hard to change this
- Two wrongs make a right Critics. These are the types who when they have messed up somewhere or when company they are working for has messed up, they start calling other people’s names based on unrelated issues. Guilty conscious.
- Undermine or the Jealous type Critics. The type who want to take credit even where they should not. When they can’t get it, they spend their entire time talking bad or making up stuffs about others. Just work hard and your work will always be seen.