Nerding in Nairobi

A few months travelling, living and hacking in Kenya

Sean – Invested Development

I met Sean Smith of Invested Development for a beer last Thursday at Brew Bistro. One beer turned into several and dinner over a fun night. We came pretty close to ordering “The Pornstar” – a burger with peanut butter, jelly, bacon and sriracha – but luckily got to ordering before drinking too much.

I’ll spare the details of our wide ranging conversation but relate a bit of what Sean has learned with ID. He came to Nairobi looking to place ~$500k investments in mobile tech and energy. He found it very hard to find companies and entrepreneurs that were mature enough to take that size investment. That kind of money goes a long way when you can hire a developer for $12k / year. They’re now looking at much smaller ~$50k deals which are still pretty substantial in this market.

He also found that the best opportunities hinged on improvements in some basic services and infrastructure. It’s not worth investing in an ag products startup if there’s no sales and delivery network! As a result, they’re looking at investing in distribution and supply chain ideas. It’s a long way from where they started but it seems like a good adaptation to the state of affairs here.