Sidney Karanja, 28, is the founder of SavoStore, an online shopping and package delivery service he started in the US in 2010 that has grown to handle cargo worth millions of shillings.
At what age did you make your first million?
How did you get started?
I developed the idea to start a shipping service while in campus in the US some time in 2010. However, it is only after I graduated that I fully focused on the business. I got my first million in profit before I even registered the company, SavoStore.
I started out selling film and photography equipment, which brought in good money. Within five months of shipping cameras, lighting, microphones, electronic gadgets, camera lenses and advertising these items through my Facebook page to my peers in Kenya, I made more than Sh1 million in profit. In a week, I would ship around two high-end cameras, ranging between Sh300,000 and Sh800,000, and camera accessories that cost around Sh50,000.
How did you spend your first million?
Interestingly, I did not immediately notice I had made a million since I put all my money — profits, personal savings and business funds — in the same account.
When doing my accounting some day by chance, I realised I had made over a million. I was ecstatic. I ploughed back a huge chunk of the money to boost my business, and used the rest to treat myself to a trip to Las Vegas and enjoy myself for a short while.
When did you decide to focus fully on the business?
I quit my job as a marketing executive in BEHR Process Corporation early this year and have not regretted it.
My full focus is now on the business, and after partnering with my close friend James Kabue, we have been able to scale greater heights.
What are the biggest mistakes you have made in terms of money management?
I have a high-risk appetite. In the past, I have invested in shares or businesses I thought were profitable but that ended up bringing losses.
Also, in the past, once I was done with my work, I would drink alcohol and end up oversleeping. Doing business in Kenya while in the States brings time difference problems, so I would wake up to find my clients annoyed at me for not delivering their goods or giving quotes within the time I had promised to. I have since quit drinking, and this has saved me a lot of trouble.
Future plans for SavoStore?
We have already started expanding our business to the rest of East Africa and hope to conquer the African continent very soon.