Join us to the much anticipated introduction of Dalekh.com founding figure , Jean-Gabriel Jemea Kuoh . He gives us an open and honest view of experience of being a startup executive.
Hello Mister Jean-Gabriel Jemea Kuoh, you are the Founder of DALEKH.COM.Could you tell us in some lines how and when came to you the idea to create this platform?
I’m a US-based Cameroonian entrepreneur with a strong passion for Marketing, Agriculture and the Afro food industry in general. Being a big Afro foodie, I was wondering why our gastronomy is not popular. Many of my American friends didn’t know much about African food and every time I was inviting them to an African restaurant, they’ve all fell in love with it. That drove my interest and I saw a real potential there. Our cuisine is so amazing and diverse yet still remain unpopular; and I came to understand that to take things to the next level globally we have to offer more support to the driving forces of the industry (farmers, restaurants, caterers, chefs etc.). I have been involved in marketing-related business ventures since my early entrepreneurial years and I have decided to put in better use this experience in promoting African cultures through the beauty of our gastronomy. Dalekh was born after solid market research and analysis. We have made some good progress and my dream is to see African food to be as popular as Pizza, Sushi or Coca-Cola worldwide.
Thank you for the compliment. Africa is full of inspiring web entrepreneurs that I look up to. Many of them come from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya but I have been inspired by many of my fellow Cameroonian entrepreneurs as well. I don’t measure my status or rankings but it is for sure that through Dalekh.com, Afro-ethnic cuisine is getting more global appeal and attention because many of the foreign visitors of our platform finally agreed that African food is delicious, rich and flavorful. We certainly try our best to position our recipes and restaurants in an attractive way, and our online magazine drives interests. My project is still on going and we still have amazing features on the way; and I’m pleased to see great progress. Most of the challenges that I have faced in this project are similar to traditional challenges faced by my peers. As a start-up entrepreneur, you have to make sure your idea can be transformed into a viable business; and make sure that the right team is by your side to assist you in the process, as you cannot technically do everything on your own. The more you grow, the more expensive the operations become; so access to funding has been difficult at the beginning as well. Overall, it’s faith- faith on my project, my team and the potential of African cuisine- that gave me the courage to still be in business today. Nothing comes easy and it does require dedication, patience and wisdom to succeed. I am not afraid of taking some risks, and of making some mistakes because sometimes this is the best way to learn. This is an unpredictable journey- only faith, discipline, courage and passion are the sources of my strength.
“Only faith, discipline,courage and passion are the sources of my strength”
You were recently inviting to the Kongossa Web Series ( KWS) in Montreal. What was the purpose of your presence at that event?
For the past months, I have been invited in numerous conventions and conferences, and most recently the KWS Forum in Canada. I was invited to share some thoughts on how we can leverage technology for the Afro food industry. Technology can allow leaders of the Afro food industry to expand their operations, it opens doors to our farmers to work more efficiently, and it will allow African restaurants to be more competitive. I would like to see a better usage of technology so that Africa can expands its market share when it comes to AgriBusiness, and to better contribute to food security in our world. I have also shared how Afro restaurateurs can utilize the power of digital marketing as a new inexpensive yet powerful method of communication. This tool allows them to plan better, interact more easily, shoot higher and measure their results in a smarter way.
During your stay in Cameroon, you had the opportunity to meet with numerous young entrepreneurs and project leaders. What is your opinion in regard to their prospects in the future?
I am so pleased to have met many young creative entrepreneurs in Cameroon. The few I have met took my personal contacts and sent me emails with ideas and projects they have. We have many Steve Jobs, Dangote, and Mark Zuckergerg in our country. The ideas I have received are amazing and full of potential. I just hope that we have a better way to get these ideas funded, as this is critical for these initiatives to come to come to fruition. We heavily invest in Football and Education for our youth but I hope we can see more incubators and business development programs for these talented aspiring entrepreneurs. The ideas they have are just phenomenal and could be very much profitable.
What advice would you give to this youth who wishes to undertake new projects and companies?
Entrepreneurship is, in my opinion, one of the best activities in the world because it allows individuals to convert a simple idea into cash, to create jobs and establish financial security for our families. In the United States where i live, the power of entrepreneurship fuels substantially the economy. Entrepreneurship can greatly bring something fresh to our economy and transform our country. Entrepreneurship is known for these glamorous things, but not for the pain behind it. It requires strong planning, discipline, extreme patience, perseverance, and determination. These skills are keys to your entrepreneurial dreams.
I would advise our youth to follow their dreams and passion. Become an entrepreneur for the right reasons and not for the money, have a purpose and focus on it, and the rest will follow. Make sure you put together a solid plan, surround yourself with the best who could help you execute that plan and work extremly hard. Failure in Entrepreneurship is for those who give up! Never give up, because these moments will come where you just want to move on to something else. Personally and talking from experiences, I am not a big fan of serial entrepreneurship and i would advise our young people to focus on one thing. Be the best at it, Master your craft, your product, your market and make of Excellence your Motto!
Thank you for this interview