What led you to start your own business?
Having grown up in West Africa, I know how much people struggle globally. I have a strong interest in creating change and realized, while studying at USC’s Lloyd Grief Center for Entrepreneurship, how wide of a reach gaming can have.
KAMENI NGAHDEU, 23
Kaydabi, a South L.A. mobile-gaming company that pairs philanthropy and entertainment to create change
Financials: Bootstrapped; co-founders each put in $25,000
Where did you get the startup money?
Loans from friends and family, and personal investments.
What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
The first one is funding. We started using engineers at USC unpaid. Given the long process of game development, it was hard to keep them motivated. We ended up getting a team of great freelancers – a very diverse group.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
To be passionate. Starting something is really hard, so if you’re not passionate about it, I don’t think you can get to where you want to be.
How many hours a day do you put in?
Five to seven hours a day on this. But I also work at (venture-backed flower delivery startup) Bouqs, so this is a second job essentially.
Has your youth led to any awkward situations, such as when you supervise employees who are older than you?
It’s hard to get people to work with you when it’s just an idea created by someone younger than them. But, ultimately, the idea of what the company could be helped us sell them on it. We ended up getting 40 applications for three positions.
Would you start another company?
Definitely. We plan down the line to find other industries that can use a model of entertainment and philanthropic efforts together.
Could you ever work for someone else?
Yes. (Co-founder) Kwabena Osei-Larbi and I both have day jobs right now, so for us it’s been a learning experience. Kwabena is from Ghana and I’m from Cameroon, so we share the same background and passion for creating change.
What do you do to unwind?
I love sports. I played for USC’s soccer team and Kwabena played rugby.
— Kristin Marguerite Doidge