Wycliffe Waweru is a Kenyan born bicycle entrepreneur. A CCNA/CISCO certified Business Information Systems graduate. Apart from the passion he had for constructing bicycles, Wycliffe saw the growing need for a cheap and convenient mode of transportation for the Low-income earners in his community. However Low, income earners in his community still could not afford paying for a bicycle despite the high cost of public transportation.
Wycliffe was able to provide solution by forwarding proposals to companies to provide bicycles for their employees that will involve a flexible payment plan.
This was a successful approach in tackling the challenges of transportation in his community.
Get Inspired by Wycliffe’s story.
What was interesting about your childhood and what’s your educational background?
I was born in Nairobi. I grew up in a place called Buruburu and we had limitless fun as kids. It’s amazing that not everyone owned a bike unlike today yet everyone rode. Secondly, we never got riding lessons or trainers while learning to ride bicycles yet through faith all became possible. I am a Business Information Systems graduate. CCNA/CISCO certified. My course of study was inspired by my early exposure to a computer. We had our first desktop at home in 1996. This set pace for an integrated quest to learn more on how we can use IT to push value addition in daily living.
What inspired the idea of Play Guru?
Bicycles have been a childhood passion and thus by grace I translated the hobby into an enterprise. It started out of the need to be relevant in value creation while doing something I love. I got my first bicycle from my Dad and it was nicked from me barely two years after. My first riding experience was definitely years before I got my own bicycle. My best friend’s brother had a dirt burner five spoke BMX that had no brakes. That was what he used to teach me. The lessons were pretty simple and lethal – he would let you sit on the bike and hold the saddle while pushing you down the street. A few dents and bruises would see me balance and pedal eventually.
The biggest obstacles are personal – capacity to grow in alignment with my values. Secondly, the ease at which complacency knocks life’s door has repeatedly enticed me into settling for less thus the challenge to have will power that’s bigger than the obstacles. After the pilot project on how to empower the ‘working poor’ I got orders for over 6,000 bicycles in less than 3 weeks. Looking at the opportunity I had to take the walk and formalize my enterprise to face the opportunity that lied ahead. Secondly, the complaints and limitations that emanated from the second hand bicycles also inspired me to seek to do more with less.
For what major reasons and events do people hire your bikes and is there a stiff competition in your market?
It is more of a complementary activity for their outdoor engagements and as such they opt to integrate it to their other physical itinerary. Secondly, it’s a full body sport that has continually engaged the strong willed into engaging. We have competitions and collaborative events. These events have helped mobilize attention and customers as a service to the products we sell. This being a catalyst for business growth considering it’s interactive and engaging for the client.
We now cover five counties and the expansion plan with Vision 2030 is to go national through a franchise model – creating wealth and multiple opportunities for others. We’re setting up six replicated versions of the Nairobi bicycle assembly line to clusters we have formed nationally. This will be our primal distribution channels for the retail and repair enterprises that the youth will setup. The partnership will see us capitalize on the River Nile Basin riparian countries and partner with other organizations to replicate across Africa. The long term is to definitely span out to the whole continent – in 20 years relatively. Partnerships with investors in the countries will accelerate achievement off the dream faster.
Has there been any time, since you began your business that you have thought of quitting?
That suicidal thought has led me to dark corners where I repeatedly wished to walk out. What keep me going were how far I have come and the opportunity that lies ahead. People need to learn that such journeys are lonely and that it redefines your every value thus why we constantly need to invest in ourselves.
Can you give us an idea in terms of numbers for customers, number of bikes you have in your fleets and revenue (in dollars).
Currently we’re selling stakes in the assembly line as we sold the second-hand business to fund research and setup for the new frontier.
How long has this business been operational?
Six years; three of those years spent running the roadside start-up in Buruburu as a sole propriety business. The other three and a half have seen the mutation from the sole enterprise to a limited company that is formal. The experience has been faithful and fulfilling as it’s helped grow capacity through partnerships and government institutions that earned us the regional platform. The resistance from agencies in adoption of Non-Motorized Transport as a mainstream mode has been the most challenging yet the most fulfilling.
What are the biggest challenge facing young entrepreneurs in Business in Kenya?
Mentorship and the hunger for growth. Most are running their enterprises to fund their lifestyles and thus they ease in being complacent. The best way to kill this is to integrate with fellow entrepreneurs and form think tanks that are value adding. Secondly, entrepreneurs should have dreams that they foresee being beyond them – generational value. Lastly, a role model would be a great pillar to start from – look at what makes them great and replicate.
What does the future hold for Play Guru?
It’s bright as we seek to create multiple opportunities for communities and catalyse Africa’s green growth strategies. We are in partnership discussions (escalated) with both global bicycle and sports apparel manufacturers. We seek to partner and grow over re-inventing the wheel. This way knowledge share remains to be our focus area for wealth creation.
What advice do you have for upcoming entrepreneurs and young people who hope to someday become innovators?
Live everyday as if it’s your last. Live like an eagle as this world is full of ducks – be exceptional and enjoy the affiliated benefits.