Our Man Around Town today is Nate Kariuki. Nate is the Founder of Nate Kariuki Ltd, a consultancy company that provides regulatory assistance to locals and foreigners who want to get into sports betting, lotteries, and casinos in Kenya and also advises on compliance issues in regard to gambling activities. He offers support to lottery operators and sports betting companies as well as other entities active in the gaming and gambling market. He also provides legal and regulatory assistance to new market entrants and active operators. In addition to providing comprehensive consultancy services, in cooperation with his partners, he offers legal services, tax advisory and technological solutions.
He is a middle child in a family of three, and a father and a husband. He is passionate about technology, music and fashion and shoes.
Are you driven by passion or purpose or both?
“I didn’t leave my mother’s womb for the purpose of making friends. I left it to achieve something and make a mark.” — Dr Richard Leakey” Richard Leakey. I’m driven by passion. My passion for technology and the evolving betting industry have presented new opportunities that have made my career quite interesting.
In Nairobi, people had to physically avail themselves at a shop in Westlands (Ken Bookmakers – Abc Bank House 2nd Flr Woodvale Groove) and place money on the counter before they’d start betting. The company is still operational under a new name but it was quite slow in embracing technology. Some of the games betted upon were horse racing and football.
But the evolution in the betting industry, particularly sports betting has increased options for the player/punter. There are new games or gaming products that are being churned out on a daily. For example, sports betting has evolved into more than winning, losing and a draw to the nitty gritty. Practically every sport now has a betting activity attached to it, and with new games coming up every day, my career has become more fun to learn and grow in. The great thing about sports betting is that anything and everything can be bet on.
Players now enjoy vast opportunities to play and win money and the industry is constantly evolving.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Tell us about your background and how it shaped you into the person you are now.
Growing up I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I had typical dreams of any normal child. I wanted to be a pilot or maybe a doctor. But I really fancied the idea of studying people, what they do, how they do it, why they do it and how they eventually end up. So, for a moment, I wanted to be an anthropologist.
However, my travel to the UK to live with my brother in the early 2000s opened up my eyes to newer opportunities and perspectives on life. I’d really recommend for parents allow their kids to travel after high school, to learn about the world, and different cultures and see the world in a different way. For the year I spent in the UK, I worked for Universal gas as a sales advisor making around USD200-USD300 in a day. My daily target while working at Universal gas was to get at least five people to sign up for gas or electricity. But on most doors I knocked on, guys were already working with a company, so they only had to switch providers.
I travelled back and started my Marketing career in Kenya. I worked in several companies, among them; Kenya Charity Sweepstakes and that’s where my passion grew. I was tasked to evaluate the operations of the company and why they were making fewer sales. I came up with new ways to market; to switch from the old generation in order to improve sales but that fell on deaf ears. Most people felt like I was moving too fast and outshining them and that was the beginning of my downfall. But even at that, I had met people in this industry while at Kenya Charity Sweepstakes who pushed me to venture into this industry.
Victoria Ombogo who worked at Win lot-sweepstakes company came looking for advice and pushed me to take this career path seriously. I moved to Royal Media Marketing Services as I advanced my interest in the industry. Then I worked at Majani insurance brokers and operated my printing, graphics and advertising company as a side hustle.
Victoria joined one of the pacesetters of the betting industry the biggest brand back then and four years later, she called me for a job that I didn’t get for unknown reasons. In 2015, she called me again for an exciting project, by Infinity capital trading as Zindua Chapa. I worked as the project manager for this short-term lottery. It lasted for like a year and a half and then they set up a sports betting company after its conclusion.
By then, I was in conversation with a leading media house. But the project didn’t materialize because we had different dreams and goals for the product I was supposed to create. The partnership fell out because I felt like I was being wasted and used. The only value was that they sought me out, but this made me lose out on an opportunity to be a project manager for another project because the director felt like it would be a conflict of interest.
After the fallout with a leading media house, I started writing proposals for little cash because I made contacts and friends while working for Zindua Chapaa with people that had access to clients. I’d write concept proposals for casinos, sports betting, long-term, and short-term lotteries and much more. I was doing such impeccable and commendable work, that surprisingly five years down the line, they are still in use.
Even though at that time drafting those proposals felt like it was everything, right now I feel like they swindled me, because they made huge sums of money off those proposals.
I joined Roamtech in 2018 and basically rebranded the Jamii lotto product. Some other projects I worked on, included Saba Kwa Saba. But three weeks into the relaunch, they cut out the marketing budget which obviously affected the profits and on claims of not delivering, I was kicked out. However, it feels as though the company was on its knees, so they needed an expert to develop a product, fire them and then operate their product on their own.
After this experience, I decided to firmly establish myself in the industry. I started lowkey and created a good profile for myself that made me gain 100% of my clients through referrals. I even grew enough balls and came up with my own pricelist. Prior to this, I studied for a Diploma in Advertising.
If you had a chance for a do-over, what would you do differently in your life or career?
The time I joined the industry. I feel like it would give me the opportunity to learn more, gain more knowledge and make wise and better decisions. Like the media deal, I feel like I would have made a name for myself and furthered my career if I had handled things differently.
I’m also really fearful of partnerships. I prefer we talk; tell me what you bring to the table, we work towards it and we go separate ways after the deal is done because I’ve learnt a lot about partnering.
I should have turned up less and saved more.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to succeed at your job?
- Honesty if you want to succeed. Be very sincere. Do something that you can to the best of your abilities. If you can’t please state that you can’t and find professionals or the right people to do it.
- Money is not made as quickly as people assume it does in this industry. Learn from mistakes, consult and don’t gauge your growth with someone else’s success. There is no such thing as overnight success. Seek the opinion of individuals with greater skills in the industry.
- Faith in oneself. There are instances where guys will want to shortchange you and give you less money. They will talk down to you and your work. They will not make payments sometimes. You need to have the belief in yourself that you can do better.
What motivates you to keep going?
To be the ultimate best in what I do in this industry.
Creating new products, setting up new companies, and having happy clients with no regulatory or compliance issues.
How do you define success?
The ongoing pursuit of a worthwhile goal.
The best life for my kids.
Having clients who don’t have compliance issues.
To be an opinion leader in this industry.
What makes you happy and gives you the energy to face the day?
Money. waking up knowing I can afford to pay bills
I love what I do and the learning experience.
Weirdly I always root for the antagonists like Thanos in Avengers End Game. They have one goal, mental stamina and they do something out of will. They put in the effort, develop skills, are goal-oriented and are willing to change the world. They always have a plan and don’t rely on luck. Disappointment and failure kill people. Protagonists usually rely on luck, No hard work, they do things out of circumstance not will .and depend largely on luck.
I also love spending time with my dad and kids.
Advice for newbies in your line of work?
Plan yourself, and your goals, and look at the bigger picture don’t be stuck on the short-term goals.
Believe in yourself, and be happy with what you do.
Make money while being honest.
Have fun with what you do and quit if you are unhappy. It’s never too late to start again.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Satisfactory clients who can rely on me. I want my clients to be certain that I offer full-time services.
They shouldn’t experience any regulatory or compliance issues.
To change the lives of individuals and communities.
To establish sustainable businesses.
I’m still figuring it out though…
Where do you see yourself in around 10 years?
Closer to power or in power. Cabinet secretary in 10 years and president in 20 years.
‘Everything to my family and nothing to the world’ because you can be everything to the world and nothing to your family.
No goal is out of your reach.
If you would like to find out more about Nate Kariuki and what he does check out his website http://natekariuki.com/ or find him on Linkedin.