Thomas Adams, Robin Miller, and Kelvin Nyame share their stories with MESTOn the weekend of December 8th, Capstone One came to an end for the Class of 2019, with Guest Lecture Weekend featuring serial entrepreneur and founder of Onepiece and Brandbassador Thomas Adams, meQasa CEO and MEST alumnus Kelvin Nyame, and Partner and Global Digital Lead at Dalberg and cofounder of Praekelt Robin Miller.
Kelvin Nyame Returns To MEST as First Alum Guest Lecturer
Already a special weekend as it was the first time the MEST Class of 2019 pitched in front of the community, this weekend also marked the first time a MEST alumnus returned to speak during a Guest Lecture Weekend.
Since entering the Accra Incubator in 2013, Nyame and the team have truly proved themselves building a company that has grown to become the number one online real estate marketplace in Ghana.
Nyame offered his own unique perspective and discussed his journey to MEST as well as the guidance he found at MEST and how it has helped shape is success. He explained, “I had bad marks at school and decided to leave. I never thought I would make something of my life. I had no vision until I joined MEST.”
However, his path wasn’t always smooth. The company had a rough start, focused on replicating what they saw in the American market which they realized did not work in Ghana. After a lot of learnings, a few pivots and eventually a successful fundraise from Malaysia-based classifieds investor Frontier,, they found success. Earlier this year, they went on to acquire their #1 competitor in the market, Jumia House.
Nyame encouraged EITs to learn from the markets they understand well and not solely focus on other, more advanced markets. Not only this, but he emphasized the importance of having a good team to keep the company going in even the hardest of times, stating, “Hire good people and try to keep them for as long as you can. The people around you are key.”
Thomas Adams Encourages Entrepreneurs to Take Risks
At just 33 years old, Thomas Adams has founded three successful companies including marketing legend Onepiece and Brandbassador. A close friend of MEST founder Jorn Lyseggen, Adams shared his entrepreneurial journey, which began when he fashioned a belt buckle with a beer opener attached and turned it into a successful e-commerce business that operated from his parents’ basement. After a few years and a few learnings, he struck success again when he and a friend decided to sew together a purple hoodie and sweatpants and walk out into the streets of Norway, creating instant demand and launching what would become the globally successful brand, Onepiece.
Though Adams’ journey may have started in his parents’ basement, today he is the founder of a $100 million company and has recently entered the tech sphere with his newest initiative, Brandbassador. Adams emphasized the importance of having belief in your ideas, saying, “Work very hard and have an idea you really believe in.”
Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, Adams has always believed in the products he’s selling. He’s also taken risks and pushed himself. He believes the ability to take bigger risks while he was building these companies as a young entrepreneur is a big part of what led to his success. He encouraged our entrepreneurs, “By doing things that people think are a bit crazy, you come across opportunities that you wouldn’t if you’d done things the safe way.”
Finally, like Nyame, Adams highlighted the importance of finding the right team and co-founders. Joking that you will spend more time with your co-founder than your significant other, Adams explained that it’s key not only to find someone who complements you business-wise, but also someone who’s personality gels with yours.
Robin Miller Says Be Your Own Role Model
The final guest lecture of the day, Robin Miller, echoed the words of our other guests, saying that, “Team is what matters.” A company with the wrong team will never be successful; it is the people behind the product that can push it too success.
However, even with the right team, a company won’t be successful without knowing its customers. Miller explained that in order to build a great product, you must first know your customer better than anyone else and build from there, focusing on their needs and pain points.
Finally, Miller does not believe in searching for role models. She believes in looking inward and becoming your own role model. She stated, “Don’t look for role models. Learn from everyone and be your own role model.”
Interested in learning more about what advice past guest lecturers have had to share? Check out this article!
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