Last year, Nigerian robotics engineer and tech entrepreneur, Silas Adekunle, wrapped up a deal with Apple which saw him become the highest paid robotics engineer in the world. It was a fitting climax for a story that began on the streets of Lagos, all the way to the inner circles of Silicon Valley.
Long before Tim Cook and the gang came calling, Adekunle; a 21-year-old college student at the time, had decided to take his knowledge of robotics outside the walls of the classroom by setting up a consumer robotics company which he called Reach Robotics. This was back in 2013.
Fast-forward four years later and he had rolled out a product called Mekamon; something that is largely considered the world’s first gaming robot, and quite a hit among gaming enthusiasts too. Having sold out in a matter of weeks and turned in cash to the tune of USD 7.5 Mn, and then roped in another USD 10 Mn in funding from London Venture Partners, Reach Robotics was eventually snapped up by Apple and Adekunle became the poster boy for all things cool.
Well, things have grown somewhat quiet since then, but it appears the Nigerian robotics engineer has been doing a lot of “cool stuff” while keeping a low-profile. But not for long, he is in the news again. And your guess is correct, it’s for yet another milestone.
Ever heard of One Young World (OYW)? CNN describes it as the “Young Davos”. Yes, you could think of it as the World Economic Forum for young people. OYW is a registered charity created by Kate Robertson and You & Mr. Jones founder, David Jones, that empowers young people to drive positive change in the world.
Usually, the OYW Award recognises young world leaders who are triggering a change in their respective communities but this year, things have been spiced up a little with the first ever OYW Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
One Young World’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award was initiated to identify and promote 5 of the world’s most revolutionary entrepreneurs under 35 who are having a positive global impact and inspiring others with their leadership.
The One Young World Entrepreneur of the Year Award was created to highlight the work of revolutionary entrepreneurs who will stand as inspiration for existing entrepreneurs and encourage others to become effective entrepreneurs. Trust me, it’s kind of a big deal.
And guess who will be heading to London later this year to co-claim the award having been handpicked by an international panel of renowned entrepreneurs as one of five of the world’s most revolutionary entrepreneurs under the age of 35? Yes, our very own Silas Adekunle. But he’s got company — another promising entrepreneur from the African continent also made the cut.
Catherine Mahugu from Kenya also made the 2019 OYW Award list. She is the founder of two thriving ventures — Chiswara; an agri-tech venture that partners with coffee farmers to sell Kenyan coffee to the international market, and Soko; an ethical fashion brand that supports artisans in emerging economies.
One young entrepreneur each from the U.S., Sweden, and India complete the group of five who will each be presented with the Award at the One Young World 2019 Summit taking place in London, 22-25 October 2019. The ceremony is expected to take place in front of an audience of 2000 people from over 190 countries and live-streamed to an audience of 2 million in over 100 countries.
Now, let’s give it up for all those illustrious African sons and daughters who are burying epithets, defying stereotypes, and putting the continent on the world map.