The following story is meant to be educative and entertaining. The events and characters in the following story are completely fictional. If the story shares similarities with real-life events that occurred somewhere, it would be absolutely coincidental. Please, read with an open mind and try to pick a lesson to help you in your own life.
Richard, 23 years old, an ambitious young man, was tired of his full-time job. After watching a few motivational videos on YouTube, he decided to quit his job to work on the projects of his dreams. He had worked several jobs but was still super-broke. He couldn’t take it anymore. He was certain that his ideas could help thousands of people. So, he quit.
Having grown in a middle-class family, a tough life taught him to hustle and develop a creative mindset. He was a survivor. Thanks to his loving and caring father, who passed away, he had the chance to finish his Bachelor’s degree in engineering. He planned to use his knowledge to improve the livelihood of people in his community back home by producing water-recycling machines.
Richard’s plan was simple; he divided it into steps:
- Quit the full-time job.
- Get where to live.
- Get a part-time job to cater for basic needs
- Build a small machine and sell it.
- Use that money to build a bigger machine and sell it.
- Use that money to mass-produce a third machine and sell it.
- Then, use that money to open up my own production company.
Happy with his plan, Richard named his first machine “Upya 1” – Upya meaning “new” in Swahili. He drew the initial plans and submitted them to potential 2 investors. Less than 2 days later, the responses he got choked him beyond expectations…
Two days later, the responses Richard got choked him beyond expectations: both investors rejected his ideas. It annoyed him even more because they didn’t give any reason for the rejection. After he had spent one-month researching, calculating, and designing, all he got was: “We are not interested”. He was devastated. He almost gave up and go back to a full-time job. But Tina, his girlfriend, encouraged him to continue pushing his dreams forward.
A few days later, Richard was scrolling through his contacts when he saw the phone number of his uncle, a somewhat wealthy businessman. The two had not talked in 3 years since the death of Richard’s father. Due to an unstable relationship Richard’s father had with the uncle, Richard didn’t expect the uncle to accept to fund his project. He decided to try his luck nonetheless. The uncle was impressed by his nephew’s ideas. He accepted to fund his project under certain non-negotiable conditions. At the meeting, the uncle wanted a 70% stake in the project, and also the intellectual property rights to the machines. Richard couldn’t agree. Unable to negotiate, he flagged out of the meeting and left.
Confused and desperate, he tried to apply in several Startup acceleration programs that give refundable grants to innovative entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, due to the lack of important legal documents, he was rejected 3 times. After those rejections, Richard was really on the brink of collapse, literally.
With Tina’s encouragement, Richard used his last courage to start a crowdfunding campaign on kickstarter.com. He wasn’t expecting much but in less than 24 hours, the amount he raised left him speechless …
With a campaign target amount of $20,000, in 24 hours, Richard had collected $5,000. He who had never held such an amount before, he jumped, danced, sung, or happiness. The smile on Tina’s face gave him even more confidence. He gave a call to his mother, who was still in the village, to inform her. Since he had set the crowdfunding campaign to run for 2 weeks, he had to wait until the end of the campaign to withdraw the money.
In the meantime, he started ordering 3D-printed parts from various providers, on debt. Motivated like never before, he stopped going to his part-time job to focus solely on the Upya-1 project. Everything was rosy. Even Tina moved into his small apartment to help him. One week later, the campaign had amassed more than $15,000. Confident to reach his set target, little by little, he was building the prototype with the parts he was ordering on debt. It wasn’t easy to balance responsibilities, but thanks to Tina, he was able to continue working.
Upya-1 was a small water-recycling and water-filtering machine measuring 2 meters tall and 1 meter large. It could easily fit within any household. It had to be powered with electrical current and could help reduce water wastage by 50% while helping families reduce their water bill by 70%.
Then this happened: one day to the end of the campaign, the contributions stopped at $18,200. Considering that funds are not released if the target amount is not reached, Richard knew disaster was upon him since he had accumulated $8,000 in debt. The poor guy froze. The fear of going to jail made him shit his pants, literally. Terrified, he looked at Tina and asked: “What are we gonna do?”
“This time I don’t know” – said Tina. “You can ask your uncle for help.” – she continued. “I don’t think he can accept. And if he does, he will put many conditions.” – replied Richard. The couple was running out of options. They had to find $1,800 to get $20,000.
“I think I can convince the manager of Zax Industries to give me the money.” – Richard said. Luckily, only 2 hours to the closure of the campaign, the manager of Zax Industries accepted to lend the money. Richard rushed to submit the remaining balance to his Kickstarter campaign under Tina’s account. The target amount of $20,000 was reached – the campaign was a success. The campaign had 148 backers (contributors) in total, which Richard had to deliver to.
Two days later, Richard received the first deposit of $10,000 on his account from Kickstarter. He paid his debts and also bought more parts to build Upya 1. While the development was progressing smoothly, Richard received a call from his biggest supplier. He picked the call with a smile, but soon his smile faded: “I’m sorry to inform you that we shall no longer be able to provide you with parts.” – said the supplier. On hearing that, Richard sat down, more confused than ever, he looked at the Upya 1 prototype and said: “I will keep fighting until I see you running.”
Richard had money, but with no suppliers. He knew that, if he didn’t get a supplier soon, he would be in debt of $20,000. For three days, he searched online for suppliers who could provide 3D parts at a good price and ship them on time, in vain.
“Hello, Sir/Madame. My name is Richard. I’m a young entrepreneur and engineer. I’m currently building a water-recycling machine that will help reduce water wastage by 60%… “ – Richard was typing an email to the Ministry of Industries of his country to apply for government support, as Plan B, in case he failed to pay back the $20,000. He had sent the same email to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC).
A few days passed. Richard hadn’t received any reply from the Ministry of Industries, nor UNHCR. One evening, he was from an unsuccessful meeting when he found Tina seated outside with her luggage. Richard’s supplications couldn’t make Tina change her mind. “I can’t bear this situation any longer. I’ve run out of money, and I need a new job. I’m sorry but I have to go. Good luck.” – Tina left. This time, Richard didn’t know what to say. He simply sat down crying!
Alone, angry, hopeless, discouraged – a short thought about suicide crossed Richard’s mind. But when he remembered a quote from his late father, “Life is something no one asked for. But what you do with it is what makes it a gift or a curse. Be a blessing to those who fought for you!”, he knew he had no room for failure. He pulled up his last strength and went to visit his mother in the village, who gave him tons of encouragement and blessings.
Two days later, he came back to the city, very energized and optimistic. He was busy working on Upya 1 in his garage when he received a call from a UNHCR representative. “Hello, Richard. My name is Ben. I’m the national UNHCR representative.” – said the voice on the phone. “I went through your project description, and I’m very impressed. Come to our office tomorrow.” Richard’s excitement was uncontainable. He froze for a few seconds before replying.
Ben told him that the UNHRC is ready to provide him with whatever he needs to finish his project. Money, hardware, 3D printer, or anything. All he had to agree upon was to sign a contract that requires him to produce his machines to use in refugee camps. Richard was very very happy. He immediately called his mother to announce her the good news. He also called Tina, who was very happy for him. His dream was finally coming true. Step 4 of his original plan of 7-steps was done. In less than one month, Upya 1 was approved for widespread use.
As Bénite Amani Bikungu, the founder and CEO of The BeniTalk, tells our team “Fulfillment belongs to those who act NOW, with the little resources at their disposal.“, you too, do not sleep one more day without starting to work on your ideas. Start working on your dream today.