Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Great ambition is the passion of a great character. Those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts. All depends on the principles which direct them.” When I think of Caine Wanjau the first word that came to mind was, “Ambition”. Caine is the kind of man that is easy to like. He is the kind of person that allows you to occupy your own space. In his own words, Caine says,
I like pushing myself. I don’t rest on my laurels. In the domain we operate in, things are fluid and fast moving, if you don’t keep up with the industry, new ideas and technologies will pass you by. You need to be ambitious by default.
Thus began our interview. Caine’s journey into tech started out similar to many others like him. It started as a hobby in high school. Computers were new at the time and he spent a huge chunk of his time interacting with them. His diligence paid off. Computer Studies was his best grade in high school. He went to Japan to do a pre-university course which culminated in him doing the Japanese entrance exam. After Japan, Caine moved on to Australia to do his undergraduate in Computer Engineering. While in Australia he got a chance to work for The Commonwealth Bank of Australia as a Credit Solution Officer. This experience gave him some insight into the business world.
Some believe in luck, but I am sure you know by now, “Fortune favors the prepared mind”, Caine was a firm believer in creating your own luck, therefore armed with this knowledge from 2 vastly different cultures and experiences, he came back to Kenya. When he got here, instead of seeking formal employment, he decided to try his luck with entrepreneurship. His first venture was his own consulting firm, Faidika
where he offers software solutions and project management consulting.
Caine was fresh from school with no projects in his portfolio or local contacts. He wouldn’t let that stop him. With what can only be described as ingenuity with a healthy dose of ambition, he decided to do his own project and put it in his portfolio. He created a chat application that allowed companies to send messages to their employees via SMS. This was the beginning of what would later become a healthy portfolio, his hail Mary, his path to get more work. His strategy worked, and not far from when he finished this project he got his first client.
At around the same time, while working out of the iHub, Caine struck up a conversation which led to him starting another company: Flashcast
. FlashCast operates a network of location-aware, dynamically refreshing text displays installed in public transit vehicles. This gives opportunities to businesses of all sizes to reach the masses by capturing them on the way to and from work. Additionally, since all content is updated over the internet and the screens have a GPS chip, the screens send back data to Flashcast for data mining on traffic trends.
Caine is currently a back-end developer for iHub Consulting. He’s been working with other consultants on projects building APIs and back-end work.
In our conversation, it emerged that Caine is multi-faceted. Apart from technology, he has two other loves: Agriculture and music. He’s been playing the clarinet since he was 8. His comment on the intersection of tech and music locally? He feels, musicians’, at least in the Kenyan context, main worry is to earn a living from music. Tech enables musicians to build a brand and to get their work known in the local market. He believes, tech can also lower the cost of music education by creating tailored plans for students instead of the standard one size fits all approach, individualizing education plans and allowing students to progress at their own pace. As for agriculture, Caine’s sentiments were that it is the pillar of Kenya’s economy yet we see a lot of food wastage and inefficiency in the process. Technology can add efficiency to the progress, get the right information, digitize records and analysis of produce and trends.
Caine’s story reminded me of the quote attributed to Edward Everett Hale,
I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.