In this interview, you'll hear from a young entrepreneur who has successfully started and run businesses in several industries. John offers valuable insights into the challenges and rewards of being a founder and provides tips for aspiring business owners.
John Viannie Wasswa
John Viannie Wasswa is the founder of Cyanase, an investment infrastructure for the internet. After graduating from Makerere university, he chose to work on something that could change the world.
He started working on Cyanase in March 2020, and his computer broke down three weeks into building the infrastructure. Unfortunately, he didn't have money to buy another PC, so he developed the mobile app and website using his Android phone!
He initially launched Cyanate as a student investing platform. In 2022, the company pivoted to create APIs that enable consumer-fintech-facing companies to integrate wealth management products into their platforms.
What can encourage more minorities to get involved in investing?
Exposure! I met a couple of wealthy Africans that needed help understanding angel investing. They take real estate, stocks, and bonds. We have lots of warren buffets and Peter Thiels. However, this can change if they expose the beauty of investing in start-ups.
Then if we can have non-minorities invest in minorities, the minorities can grow and invest in other minorities. Please look at flutterwave, one of Africa's unicorns, and its founders are investing in other African start-ups.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
The power to win whichever partnership I want. I could go to the US president and say, "I like your government to work with us, "and boom, in the next minute, it's done. Likewise, I could influence any investor or tech CEO to work with us, such a fantastic superpower.
How many sick days have you taken in the past year?
I never get sick, and I last suffered heartbreak in 2018. lol!
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Queen Elizbeth national game park, it's a nice place if you're interested in wildlife.
How do you think about setting and reaching goals for your company?
One of the fastest ways we can achieve our company goals is by networking with people that will help us achieve these goals. We have a saying in Uganda that goes like "Empungu ebuka na mpugu," which translates into "Eagles fly with Eagles," so if you want to fly high, look for someone already flying high ways of flying together with them. We ran a B2B business, and I believe we can be the next African Uny to take this approach.
What are some of the biggest challenges when fundraising as a minority founder?
Imagine starting up a company (Africa) in 2018, you go out to pitch to investors, and they all reject your concept. Then some random guy sometime later starts up the same company (in the USA), and in a minute, they are funded. The biggest challenges are;
- Only some investors are interested in investing in Africa. There are lots of original start-up ideas (Ideas that can change the world and have never been implemented elsewhere)
- Connection to the right investors. Very few investors take chances in Africa, but even those few are hard to reach.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
The most influential people in my life have always been the people closest to me. My family is small but supportive. My mom funded our start-up from day one. She needed help understanding what I was working on. Her friends kept asking her, "What does your son do for a living? One thing I know is that he is going to change the world one day.
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