Stephen Musyoka is a Kenyan entrepreneur who has tested the media and social media scenes before finally settling on a full-time job with the Serena hotels. He currently handles e-commerce for the hotel chain. In addition, the man popularly referred to as “Syoks,” has tons of children — brain children.
His influence has backed and propelled numerous thriving social media promotion drives for commercial clients, brand names, personalities and socially impacting ideas in Kenya. His company, TrINC Media, is aptly summed up as “out of the box innovation, fueled by passion.”
Through the company he co-founded, Musyoka has been able to use his social media popularity. As a community manager, he turned this influence into tangible returns to the community. The man who calls himself a fan of rugby is Kenya’s definition of a new kind of ROI. Not return on investment – return on influence.
Musyoka spoke to AFK Insider’s Frank Mutulu about TrINC Media’s upstart, youths’ investment in technology, Kenya’s innovations and more.
What was your first job?
I made my first shilling as a secretary. This was at our local church, and I was at around age 19. I picked up the necessary traits from my mother who would show me how to organize files, do notes and all that. I used to take home 3,000 shillings ($35) per month. I also doubled up as the weekly newsletter editor.
How was TrINC Media born and what is it all about?
TrINC Media was born out of the new opportunities created by the digital scope. Of course the team already had a combined passion for the digital world. I earned the bragging rights, so to speak, as “King of Facebook” in 2010, at a face-off contest organized by Safaricom (Kenya’s leading mobile network operator). This presented an opportunity, I felt – as did my colleagues – to do more than just engage people. We realized that there was a reason why social media was booming. The team had unique skills; one member was good in business development, another in public relations, marketing and advertising, and we had a creative website developer. We all brought these skills to the table and did a couple of projects. Soon we were sailing. This led us to creating TrINC management, to accommodate new business ideas which we have since had on board.
What are your current engagements? How do you manage?
Whoa, where do I start? We have a lot of projects taking place. Every project we undertake has its own objectives. What we do is target the various markets we’re reaching out to, according to the purpose of the task. A client who wants a website to enable shoe sales, for instance, will be different from a client who wants us to manage his reputation online. The best strategy, I have found, is to put yourself in the client’s shoes. What would make them say to themselves, “I have succeeded.” This strategy has worked for us in the long run, and there is always a project coming up at TrINC.
Tell me a little bit about your social impact initiatives.
In April, we had an initiative dubbed “A Million Reasons for Kenya’s Girls to Stay in School.” The project raised close to $1,350. In this way, we managed to engage the public and keep over 300 girls in school for the next year.
The concept with engaging people and asking for their money is, “tell me more.” Nobody is going to give you their money if they don’t trust you. So there’s an element of trust that is essential on social media. The art of storytelling answers the how-to’s of building trust. Top tip? You can never take too many photos.
Who is your role model in business and why?
Just the one? Hmmm… I have a few. Off the top of my head, there’s Sebastian Wafula (co-founder, TrINC Media), Kevin Mulei (of Mo Sound Entertainment) as well as the late Steve Jobs and Sir Richard Branson.
Their approach to tasks is unique and engaging. And the results? They speak for themselves.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
“Two men looked out from prison bars; one saw the mud, the other saw stars.”
What are some of your greatest achievements?
I wouldn’t say I’m quite there just yet. I was, however, once a keynote speaker at the 1% Club event in Amsterdam, (platform that connects people with smart ideas in developing countries and people with money and knowledge around the world). I shared a story on how young, fast, smart and hard-working Kenyans, the so-called “cheetah generation,” are using social media for good.
What do you love most about Kenya?
Apart from 7s rugby team (celebrated Kenyan team that represents the country in IRB Sevens World Series and Rugby World Cup Sevens) and our drink – Tusker (beer brand) – I love how uniquely Kenya is located for tourism. That it’s a hub for technology full to the brim with creative brains and a bunch of crazy Kenyans that tweet 10 tweets every 10 seconds, literally.
What is your message to Africa’s young aspiring business people and entrepreneurs?
That social media can be used to connect them, wherever they are, to anyone — anywhere in the world. That they cannot afford to ignore technology; if our pastoralist communities cannot ignore M-Pesa, one of the marvels of Kenyan ingenuity, then entrepreneurs and aspiring businessmen really cannot either.
If you were stuck anywhere in the world, and had to choose the place and one thing to be with you, where and what would you choose?
A digital camera. In a rugby stadium, anywhere.