Talk Vs. Revenue

I just finished reading a book called “The Dream” Written by entrepreneur Gurbaskh Chahal, the son of Indian immigrants who moved to California when he was two years old, dropped out of high school at 16 and by 18, he was worth a whopping $20 million dollars, all from an internet start-up company he founded and later sold.  The company was called Click Agents and it dealt with internet advertising.   I found the book to be both inspirational and very telling and I’d encourage all of you to get it and read it.

One of the main themes of the book that kept jumping out at me was Chahal’s focus on revenues.  He started the company in the 90′s when a lot of internet companies were proclaiming to be worth billions even though few had any real income coming in.  He points out that his company (while lesser known) was one of the few that was making a real profit and at age 17, it was bringing in roughly $300,000 dollars a month in revenue.

The other interesting point about Chahal was that he is not a computer programmer and knew very little about coding.  However, what he was good at was selling and identifying people’s needs.  The coding and programming were outsourced first to a software engineer in America, then (for his second company) to a couple of software engineers in Eastern Europe.

In both of these respects, Chahal is totally different from any African tech person that I have encountered (particularly on twitter, which I’ve talked about here before).  Almost universally, the African “techies” on twitter will flood that forum with their heroic stories of how hard they are working.  You’ll often see “tweets” by them proclaiming how they are running on virtually no sleep because they’ve been up coding all night.  When not talking about their “brilliant” coding skills, they’ll be announcing a launch – Watch out! website A or B will going live in one day! wa! (& by going live, all they really mean is that their 3 page website will become visible to the public).

Now, I’ve encouraged some of them on Twitter to go out and get a copy of Chahal’s book.  Usually, I make this encouragement after getting tired of reading their mindless tweets. i.e.  why inundate your followers with tweets about a website that has absolutely no revenues? like, what’s the point???

I was talking to a friend the other night about this Russian I’m working with who is irritating me with her endless memo’s and pointless spreadsheets and my friend said to me: “You know, a lot of those spreadsheets are mumbo jumbo” (and she was right).

I used to get excited about building websites like 7 years ago, but then I quickly realized that if the revenues don’t follow nobody’s going to give a shit about you or your website.  Really, they don’t.

So, nowadays’, the only time I get excited is when I see dollar signs moving up and If not, I continue working (quietly).

And honestly, after reading about how an 18 year old  was able to pull in $300,000 dollars a month (a whole six years ago)  – why would any non-revenue generating African techie impress me?

Get Chahal’s book. He’s the real deal.

17 comments for “Talk Vs. Revenue

  1. http://www.dieselmovies.com/uprofile.php?UID=18246
    March 4, 2013 at 1:47 am

    Your report has proven helpful to us. It’s very educational and you really are obviously quite educated in this field.
    You get opened my personal eyes to be able to varying views on this matter along
    with intriguing, notable and solid written content.

  2. T.mNairobi
    September 23, 2011 at 2:43 am

    This is good KE. Keep it up. We’re all trying enterprise in one form or another. Its good to see some of it working.

  3. kenyanentrepreneur
    July 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm


    You think I’m vulgar? I’ll try and control myself next time. Actually, no…I won’t be able to.

    Look beyond the vulgarity and try to focus on the issue. Hope that helps.

  4. dorcy
    July 27, 2010 at 7:05 am

    hi KE, i am just warming up to your site, it is ok…….. but do you have to be vulgar?

  5. kenyanentrepreneur
    July 12, 2010 at 10:28 am

    First Body:

    I see your point now after you gave that example, which is a good one. So, local content where companies have an online presence with prices listed (but you do know why many companies wouldn’t want to do this? If they list a set price, it would be harder for them to scam you and try to get more money out of you when you show up at their stores).

    I for one don’t understand why I can’t buy Kenyan tea or Kenyan coffee online directly from the farmers or from the cooperatives. I should be able to by now (and for any other kenyan goods for that matter).

    I do recall one handbag designer telling me that the reason she didn’t go online was because she was afraid of Chinese imitators! i.e. she thought that putting pictures of her handbag designs would allow Chinese imitators to copy them, mass produce them and run her out of business. I guess that’s where as a business owner, branding becomes important. You can get fake designer goods all over the net, but they are still many people who’ll pay for the real thing and who will support local entrepreneurs.

  6. First Body
    July 12, 2010 at 3:12 am

    There are several ways companies are making sales on the internet.
    Number 1 advertising. When the traffic through ones site is a lot, selling of space through banners or using adsense is one way of making money but that is not a big source of revenue for most companies.

    The other way is through e-commerce. Transacting sales through website and thats what teh amazons and ebays are doing but what you forgot to mention is that in all that there is also Visa making money, there is pay pal making money and all the banks who are carrying out this transactions are making money not just amazon or ebay ….. look behind the curtain.

    What i think is the most important especially for kenya is creating awareness and knowledge of price. This is why we need local content.
    Today i was looking for tyres for my car. So i did a google search tyre Kenya as my terms the only site worth visiting on the first page was kingsway and sameer but the sameer gives you the run around.

    Kingsway though was more helpful offering a 30% discount to their website customers but the problem was there were no prices so i sent my quote and im waiting for a reply. Local content will increase sales of your brick and motar store because we still dont have ACCEPTABLE and reliable online paying solution. So local content is important.
    But that’s my opinion!

  7. kenyanentrepreneur
    July 11, 2010 at 10:22 am

    First Body:

    Everyone has different viewpoints on various issues and that’s fine, but like I said earlier, I think there’s too much focus on local content and on content in general.

    If you look around, the people making revenue’s are not content providers. They are either using the internet to sell mass products (e.g. amazon.com) or they are developing app’s that everyone around the world is using (e.g. facebook, twitter, etc, etc) — They’re not wasting time developing content. They’re creating the app’s and letting people use them to write their own content.

    So, until the skill level to develop these app’s appears, I don’t see how one can make significant revenue’s just from content.

  8. First Body
    July 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    I can see that the tweeting techies have come out to discredit you!! KE you should be proud that they not only visited your site but were kind enough to leave a caustic message.

    Our internet market is not mature enough yet. I believe it will grow soon with safaricom and other telecos encouraging their customers to surf the internet on their networks. The masses will get tired of facebook and youtube and will soon rather than later start looking for local content and eventually move on to ecommerce.

    Once mpesa and zap and any other paying solution get a secure way to transact online or an online payment solution appears we will then move to e-commerce.

    Until then I commend you and other bloggers and the kenyan techies with their “fluff” websites on creating local content.

  9. kenyanentrepreneur
    June 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm


    Really? why do you think that is the case?

  10. Anonymous
    May 29, 2010 at 3:56 am

    Apart from the internet service providers, nobody else makes money through the internet in Kenya

  11. kenyanentrepreneur
    May 26, 2010 at 9:02 am


    Well maybe your right, but like I said, they coagulate on twitter talking about their launches and whenever I ask about revenues, they tend to get very upset (“is money everything”? is the usual response).

    Then, my second point is that I’m always looking to interview Kenyan entrepreneurs for this blog. So, when I see them on Twitter, proclaiming all of their greatness,I naturally become quite curious and think that they maybe they could be an interesting entrepreneurial story there.

    However, after I get through my preliminary questions to them, I quickly realize that a lot of their proclamations are mostly fluff. These are simple 3 page websites, with no revenues, with people calling themselves CEO’s or Managing Directors, of fluff websites. It’s been very telling, actually.

    My third point is that at the end of the day, you also don’t see any practical applications that they’ve created. So, what is it that they are coding?

    For example, I just read about this company below that will allow small businesses to create online ad’s all for a mere $150 dollars a month (see link here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05.....ef=general).

    And this is an example of a piece of technology that someone created that is going to have real, practical use for many small businesses. This kind of real world, real revenue producing companies, I am not seeing from the African techies.

    So, that’s my conclusion here: For a blogger like me who is interested in telling stories about African entrepreneurs, discovering their fluff has been quite disappointing.

    I’m doing another post that will make you even angrier so stay tuned. :mrgreen:

  12. solo
    May 26, 2010 at 3:53 am

    You realise that techies who make money don’t come to this site to talk bout it. they be there but too busy making dough.

  13. wanjikuMworia
    May 25, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    thanks nycest and asambo ..I figured out this KE brother of ours long time ago. He is all talk talk and criticizing others who are doing stuff that makes them happy.

  14. kenyanentrepreneur
    May 25, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Nycest & Asambo:

    This blog (as I’ve said numerous times) makes virtually no money & in that respect, it is simply a labor of love. I do it because I love to write.

    It is also just a forum for people to come and share their ideas. So, for example, you both came here, read my piece and felt the need to leave a comment. In that respect, you are talking (like me) :mrgreen:

    Also, like I said earlier, once you read about a guy like this who was making $300K a month at 17, why would I bother mentioning the measly income from my other sites? Conversely, neither would I want to hear about the non-income from other Kenyan techy sites.

  15. asambo
    May 25, 2010 at 1:00 pm


  16. Nycest
    May 25, 2010 at 9:46 am

    So, how much revenue are you making? Or are you also one of the talkers?

  17. OfficialRenMan
    May 24, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Nice read and spot in terms of whether revenue is been created on not. Nowadays I look at whether an investment/idea will create value or not. If its not, then its not worth focusing on. Looks like I’ll have this book and the new Nelson Mandela (Mandela’s Way) book to read up soon.

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