Q&A: Kahenya Kamunyu, Delivering TV Content Via Tech Start-Up Able Wireless

Q&A: Kahenya Kamunyu, Delivering TV Content Via Tech Start-Up Able Wireless

Kenyan based techpreneur, Kahenya Kamunyu, was listed as one of the Africa’s 15 to-watch-tech-start-up entrepreneurs in 2014 by CNN for his innovative idea to tap into a new unchartered niche in internet content distribution using a wireless network based set-top box. He is planning to launch his company Able Wireless company by April and has already pre-subscribed more than 20,000 users to date. This he estimates will grow to over 100,000 users in the next three years.

Kamunyu says Able Wireless will deploy a new generation network solution to delivers content over a wireless connection through a secure device, reducing 80 percent of capital and operational costs for current network providers and create a legitimate distribution system with real infrastructure on the ground with the best support structures nationwide.

He also harbors regional ambitions for his start-up and has already been approached by regulators from nine African countries. AFKInsider chatted with Kamunyu about Able Wireless, how it has been setting up a tech firm in Kenya and his future ventures.

AFKInsider: How did you come up with the idea to set up Able Wireless?

It occurred to me that there was no appropriate infrastructure to deliver connectivity and content and that’s why everything else failed. The government has this idea that there are these 16 million internet users in Kenya, but that is not true. At most we are looking at four, five may be six million. If these numbers were true we would be a much more highly developed country than we are right now.

So it occurred to me that there was no independent  infrastructure to deliver content. I did a bit of research and found the appropriate way to go about it and the next we know we did it. We tested it and it worked.

Someone has to lay the infrastructure and we have to stop this trend of letting foreign companied do things for us and owning tracks of land. That’s why we are attempting to lay our own infrastructure. Someone has to do it anyway.

AFKInsider: What does Able Wireless do and how much will it cost your clients?

Able wireless is trying to be the first Kenyan owned company to deliver connectivity and media on a new generation platform for 500 shillings ($6) a month. We have our own built digital box and we are building our own new structure independent of existing platforms.

That price for me is the appropriate fee and if we maintain it there the quality will only get better. That’s the absolute basic we need to make the business work. if we take it lower we will start compromising quality. As inflation goes up our task is to try keep it at 500 shillings.

AFKInsider: How much did you raise in capital to start Able Wireless?

As a company policy we don’t talk number in interviews but it is a huge project. There is no foreign investment. The only thing that is foreign is ownership and equipment. Ownership and management is all local.

We have raised capital through finance houses. We raised capital but we decided to distribute that capital to a convertible debt note so that we could have a bit of internal money ourselves that does not tie us to any capital house. But we have also have our own money we’ve raised. We have raised the equivalent in a convertible debt to buy ourselves a parachute.

We raised money through one guy. But later we decided to spread ourselves out and offer a convertible debt note to try and dilute the investment and not have too much control vested in one person because they raised too much capital.

AFKInsider: Did being mentioned as one of the Africa tech start up to watch this year have any impact?

It boosted us a lot. In that one week our website crashed three to four time a day and we had to migrate and add three new machines to it and it still go down. They are all unique traffic and there is nothing to see on the site.

We have a British brokerage firm that is coming to do their assessment soon. But they are pitching for Africa business not Kenya business. Private money is turning up a lot now since we were named top 15 tech start-ups in Africa. We have people pitching to give us money unlike before where it was us doing the pitching. We are now trying to diversify our capital base.