More than 1500 entrepreneurs and policy makers from all(!) over the world flocked to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya, from July 24th-26th. Due to my affiliation with the Ampion Venture Bus, I was privileged to be invited to represent Beerhouse and Springlab at this mega-event, hosted and (except flights) fully paid for by the US Government and sponsors.
The event was attended by US President Barack Obama, and several other well known figures and celebrities, amongst them Akon, Shark Tank judges, Miss Americas, etc. But first and foremost it was entrepreneurs from all stages of growth, self-made billionaires meeting rural farmers from Africa. Without knowing stats, I’d guess, that half of the audience was US American and Kenyan, while the rest of us were coming from all corners of the world, no continent left uncovered.
If you were now expecting a huge celebrity spotting event, you did not attend the right place. With the exception of Obama himself (who was obviously talking point #1 and closely guarded during his half day stay on the UN compound) they attended their panels and mingled with the crowds afterwards, but the strength of the event was the fact, that entrepreneurs from all possible backgrounds got together and spoke one universal language of creating progress, learnings, challenges, growth and opportunities together.
So I fit in really well with my Afrogerman background and could relate well – though I accidentally managed to stand out and got taught a lesson in personal branding:
My tailormade yellow suite that I purchased as a 200 US$ joke on my Thailand-India-Kenya trip earlier in 2015 turned me into something of a talking point, making me explain the yellow colour, that’s representing the Beerhouse brand colour. I really don’t ever wear a suit and my decision to take it to #GES2015 was based on the formality of the event and that my second and only other suit is not home in South Africa, but stored in my german apartment, in case of family funerals I might have to attend.
On day #1 I was dressed in jeans and repeatedly mistaken for my doppelgänger – the ‘White African’ Eric Hersman, who spoke on a morning panel.
On day #2 I was absolutely overwhelmed by the number of people approaching me and asking about the reason for wearing the full suit, leading into many interesting conversations and spontaneous photo shoots.
On day #3 this continued, but I was now also approached by people, who heard the story of a yellow german / south african / beer merchant / incubator / hospitality operator from others and approached me offering valuable introductions to beer or hospitality people or even an interest to license the concept.
This made I met another doppelgänger in red (who even got his shoes right!) and my tweeted picture of the United Colours of #GES2015Kenya went viral… Continue Reading…