The story of Phares Kariuki teaches that every time you fall, you need to rise, dust yourself off, and give that dream yet another go. It’s okay to make mistakes, don’t brood over them, but learn from them and move on.
Following boardroom brawls with venture capital investors at his initial startup, Angani, which he co-founded with his friend, Brian Muita, who was the CTO, Phares decided to quit the startup.
A power tussle for the soul of the startup led to a board meeting where Phares was to be relieved of his role as CEO but to retain his co-founder, Brian Muita, as CTO.
However, they both rather offered to resign from their positions, but the board wanted them to transfer all control, and the issues surrounding passwords and login details were the next nut they had to crack.
They asked for written documentation to absolve them of any liability once they released the same, but it appeared the board members were unwilling to commit. They were promptly sued, but Phares and his co-founder won and later counter-sued members of the board.
Following a long-drawn legal tussle, they both left the startup in October 2015, but this would later cause a shutdown of systems during which customers’ infrastructures were thrown offline.
However, this didn’t deter Phares or his co-founder and colleague.
Angani was a budding cloud infrastructure sensation. It was the first fully automated public cloud provider in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was also able to have the first television station that was fully cloud-based without physical infrastructure.
Before he left, Phares was able to grow the Angani business from scratch to become a company with over tens of thousands of dollars in recurring revenue.
He had to quit the startup despite his ambitious plan of growth to scale the company and its services to become a market leader both locally and in the region in the area of cloud service provisioning.
He, along with Brian Muita, subsequently went ahead to launch yet another startup called Node Africa, a data management company that provides Kenyan enterprises with tailored-made cloud infrastructure solutions.
His action of pulling out of Angani sent several lawsuits his way, but he was apparently undeterred.
He rode through the waters and subsequently went on to found another startup in the same industry.
Speaking of the experience, he said “We can dwell on what happened, or we can move on with our lives.”
His new startup Node Africa which was subsequently launched in January 2016 has since gone on to make a name for itself.
Node’s approach to cloud service provisioning is that of bespoke tailor-made solutions for each and every enterprise it works for. According to the company, its approach is neither public, private, nor hybrid but rather of cloud solutions built in response to the enterprise’s needs regardless of the provider.
Node Africa has since gone on to become a leading player in the cloud infrastructure space and it has already received several industry recognitions.
While speaking during its launch, Phares said, “Our team has years of experience running critical systems in Kenya and Africa as a whole. We know what it means to design highly available systems with nominal or no downtime. Our expertise also lies in building highly secure systems to safeguard from any types of breeches, both within and without the organisation.”
Node Africa helps its customers, who are usually enterprise users from startups, SMEs, and large corporations, design and implement solutions for them to ensure they derive maximum value from their cloud infrastructure.
Phares has over 10 years of experience in the cloud and enterprise technology space within Kenya and Africa. Between 2009 and 2011, he went through courses and certifications for VMware, technical and sales. This gave him knowledge of both technical and commercial applications of virtualization technology.
He is currently the CEO of Pure Infrastructure Limited, which he founded in January 2021. Before launching Angani, he was Project Manager at the African Media Initiative. He had also served as EA Product Manager for VMware at Westcon Africa.
Phares attended Strathmore School and Kenyatta University between 2005 and 2009.
He says he is passionate about technology in Africa and cloud infrastructure in particular. According to him, he believes Africa is the “cloud first” continent.