Fellow Feature: Kamil Nabong

Sylvana Lewin | Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

This week we sat down with MEST Incubator Senior Fellow and MEST class of 2013 alum Kamil Nabong. Read on to learn why he wants to be anything but normal and more!

I’m inspired by a desire for change and a desire to not be normal.

Where are you from?

I’m from Tumu in the Upper West Region of Ghana.

Why did you come to MEST?

I always had ambitions of starting my own business and while at university studying land economy, I found a new interest in computing and started studying programming by myself. When I saw that the MEST program would strengthen my background in programming and allow me to start a business on my own, I thought it was my holy grail. It was a perfect fit as it allowed me to do all that I had wanted!

I came back to work for MEST to share the experience I had gained from starting my own company, Dropifi. After three months in the MEST training program, I was fortunate enough to receive funding from Meltwater Foundation. Dropifi was the first African company go to the 500 Startups program and had many failures and successes along the way. In the end, Dropifi was not the success that my cofounders and I had hoped it would become. After that, I decided to come back to the MEST Accra Incubator and share all that I had learned.

Who/what inspires you?

I’m inspired by a desire for change and a desire to not be normal. Where I come from, with the kind of education system we have, everyone’s taught to be normal. You graduate from school and you either go on to be a teacher, a banker, or work for a big organization. You make some money, buy a car, buy a house, and you’re successful. In our current environment, we have so many opportunities that it’s so cheap to be normal. You can go beyond normal and do extraordinary things, and that is what has always motivated me.

What were you doing before you came to MEST? What is your area of expertise?

I came to MEST right from school in 2011 as an EIT in the training program. I graduated from university in June and came to MEST in August. Prior to coming, I was running my own business. It was a roadside communications enterprise that helped students from the University for Development Studies with design, project work, SPSS data analysis, and any other needs they had to do with installations, computer formating, and more.

I’m a front end JavaScript developer with expertise in Angular JS, React JS, and Ember JS. Although, having started my own company before, I’ve had my hands in a bit of everything, so I also have expertise in user acquisition strategy and marketing strategy as related to ecommerce.

What is your favorite memory from your time at MEST so far?

My favorite memory would have to be my team and I jumping on a skype call with Jorn and having him tell us that he was giving us $50 000 of funding to stop school and go over the bridge to the incubator and start our company. That was the best moment. It was a life-changing moment. I will never forget it. I still remember that call vividly.

What is one piece of advice you’d like to give the EITs and companies at the Incubator?

Focus on what matters. As a company or student, there are so many things that you wake up to. Right now with social media, there is everything to distract you. For the companies, there’s something called vanity metrics. This is all the noise out there that makes you think you are successful. This noise feeds your ego, but it’s not a real measure of success. So focus on your customers, focus on your product, and focus on making money.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is a Northern staple: tuo-zaafi (TZ). I like red red, too.

Who is your tech idol? Why?

My tech idol is Elon Musk. He takes on the seemingly impossible. He tries to do what most people think is impossible, and in most cases he proves people wrong. I also like that he is focused on problems that are real and that he’s finding solutions that will benefit humanity in the long term.

Do you have any books about tech that you would suggest?

What is your favorite tech company? Why?

Tesla. They have a big vision for climate change. Creating an electric car that will take people away from fossil fuels, creating solar roofs, everything that they are creating will take a household off the grid and away from fossil fuel use. And that’s something good for our unborn children.

What are your plans post-MEST?

Post-MEST, I plan on starting another company. At the moment, it’s not a concrete plan. I might pursue an MBA first or I might start a new venture outright.