Experiences Venturing in Africa (Yes, Africa) with Marek Zmysłowski

Michael MicheliniCulture (Lifestyle), Lifestyle, Podcast0 Comments

I know what you’re thinking – this is the Global from ASIA podcast, why are we talking about Africa? Well I do believe it is a region destined for growth, plus I can’t help myself when I see a great and unique guest to share with you all.

And we are about Global business, the concept of cross border, international – and the wild and adventurous stories business people go through venturing through them.

And today we have just that. Marek is from Poland, and dove head first into startups which led him to joining Rocket Internet and heading up a venture for them in Africa. He wrote a book about it, which is how I found him, and then I was lucky enough to get him on the show.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Introduce Marek

    A bit about your background, in Poland, and how you found your passion in the startup world?

  • Did Africa find you, or did you find Africa?

    How did you get to Africa and working with Rocket Internet? (It is in the book, but for those listening who haven’t read the book yet)

  • What did you tell your then business partners when leaving

    This must have been hard, you were in a venture when this opportunity came up, and you had to make that hard discussion. Often it is those talks that define us, can you share how you presented this to your business partner of your current venture

  • Adjusting to Africa business scene

    Where in Africa, and I have no clue at all about the business scene there (I’m an “Asia” guy), but how did it compare to Poland (which honestly I am not familiar with either) and if you can compare to USA business scene as most may be familiar with that.

  • Relationship Building and Business Development in Africa

    From what I got in the book, you are a “make it happen” kind of person, finding solutions when under pressure. I can only imagine the amazing experience you had setting up operations there, can you share some stories

  • Dealing with Culture differences and business conflicts

    Whether it is Africa, China, America, Mexico, etc – culture differences I would say are a top reason businesses going abroad fail. What is your approach to dealing with this?

  • Choosing Wrong Partners and Interpol

    Finding wrong business partners.

  • Opportunities in Africa Now (vs when you started)

    How has the market there grown, the news I read says it is a hot spot.

  • Advice for people going global

    We are adventure seekers, open minded, what are some tips and insights you can share with listeners

  • About your book

    I recommend for sure to read it, I enjoyed it – it is a thick book with a full story of your experiences and also insights on business in general, and following your passion and making things happen.

  • Connecting with you

    How can people find you online?

People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Marek’s VIP Page
√ “Chasing Black Unicorns. How building the Amazon of Africa put me on Interpol’s Most Wanted list”. I dedicated all of my income from the sales of the book to impactful charity initiatives, such as MaYa Foundation. You can check more at www.chasingblackunicorns.com.
√ Finding Marek – https://marekzmyslowski.com/

Episode Length 42:25

Thank you so much Marek, I enjoyed the call and learned some new things. And don’t forget to check out his book, Chasing Black Unicorns on Amazon and we linked it in the show notes as well.

Download Options

Listen in on Youtube

Show Transcript


[00:00:00] Episode 325 of Global from Asia 325. Talking about Africa, sitting here in Asia, truly global, global from Asia, global from anywhere, global. Let’s go.

[00:00:16] Welcome to the Global from Asia podcast, where the daunting process of running an international business is broken down, into straight up actionable advice. And now your host, Michael Michelini.

[00:00:31] Thank you everybody for again choosing to download Global from Asia. Hope you can find it on iTunes. And, actually, you know, we’re all over the place. Our team’s putting on YouTube now and we’re getting out my amazing wife, Wendy is helping us get it to wechat and we’re trying to get as many places as possible.

[00:00:52] I’m recording. It’s just after an amazing GFAVIP call. I think it was one of our best ever about. Yeah, 30 great people, really amazing people. And thank you, Rolands for sharing. We talked about Amazon hacks and it was just, it was really amazing actually. And we’re trying some new technology. There’s all these new events, software, online events, software, so we’re trying to make it more interactive.

[00:01:14] So, if you’re interested in that, it is pretty cool. All right. So for this week’s show what’s going on is Africa, you know, I, Marek he’s, uh, an amazing entrepreneur. We’re very, very, uh, well experienced and has gone through various startups and from Poland and it got to Africa, wrote a book about it.

[00:01:39] It’s a, it’s really a Chasing Black Unicorns. It’s amazing book. I actually went through a whole book and then I was happy to connect with him and. And we got them on this show. So it’s, it’s a journey show. You know, he talks about experiences, you know, and following, following his dreams, following his passion, you know, and I hope more people out there can do that.

[00:02:02] You know, maybe also this whole covid craziness and this whole world we’re in, you know, We should just realize life is short. We got it. Make the most of it. And he definitely does. So this is a, this is a cool, we put it under the lifestyle category and the cultures we talk about, you know, his experiences doing business in Africa and internationally, and how really important it is to do.

[00:02:26] So without further ado, let’s dive into the show, gfavip.com is our premium paid membership application only where you can get on our regular online events, online meetings. Of course we have courses. And when we do have offline events, you’ll get privileged access or maybe only member access. Plus the support to show GFA.

[00:02:52] vvip.com. So thank you for tuning into Global from Asia podcast, we are venturing into Africa. I, I had the pleasure to, to read a book I’m always interested in these stories, Chasing Black Unicorns. And it’s an amazing story and highlight. We’ll talk about that in the interview we have with this Marek Zmysłowski, Polish, born entrepreneur, and executive focused on online business and renewable energy, passionate about frontier and emerging markets.

[00:03:23] So. Thank you for joining us today and coming on the show. Thanks for the invitation. Great to be here. Hi Mike. Yeah. Yeah. I feel like we were saying before the recording, I felt might as well go here. You know, Asia and Africa, you know, I do feel like there is, um, there is some similarities, right? I mean, it’s emerging markets since a lot of opportunities and people like us crazy enough to try to venture into these markets.

[00:03:52] Oh, yeah. I mean, besides having many differences, um, there are many similarities between the regions, for sure. Depth, potential, and the speed of growth, I guess Asia beats Africa in terms of speed of growth. But I think the speed of growth of both regions are extremely, extremely fast. For us coming from an economist, but the older, more boring in a way.

[00:04:22] Enter this region where there’s a lot of chaos, not everything is always extremely well organized, especially in Africa. Very exciting and addictive in a way. And also when you land in Kenya or when you land in Nigeria, Or sometimes Angola, you actually feel like you’re in China or sometimes you feel like you’ve landed in, in, in another Asian country because of how many Asian people yeah.

[00:04:50] You can just find on the streets and the is in the shops, right? Any main, big African city. Uh, I think just because I know the best statistics about China, I think you have around. 20 million Chinese people are living in Africa. It’s a huge number and Chinese friends that have gone there for work, uh, for their companies and stuff.

[00:05:16] Yeah. I agree with that one. Well, when we’re diving, we kind of jumped right in man. So it’s great. But, uh, you know, do you want to give us, uh, obviously there’s a long and a short background for you with what you’ve done, but Polish born entrepreneur and you know, I at least. Get it from the book on know entrepreneurs startup.

[00:05:40] Do you want to give us a little bit of, you know, your Oh sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I’m Polish born and raised, spent my. Teenage years in Poland and then opened my first real business back in Poland. And my last can be read, divided into three parts because I launched one of the first financial brokerage companies in Poland.

[00:06:03] And that was like the early two thousands before the Lehman brothers. It was like in the middle of the biggest home in Poland. So I joined the company as employee number five. Then there was like 5,000 of us. It was almost like Wolf of wall street. Yeah. On the plane.

[00:06:19] There’s no one to go to jail. There was no problem with the police. And then I kind of fell in love with, Oh, obviously I lost my money. We came to crazy, almost went bankrupt after the layman ended up being a bartender. And then my second stage of my life. Started when I tell them not to startups, because I just saw it as a big opportunity that of investment money coming in, the companies were growing like crazy.

[00:06:41] That was amazing for me. And then I spent a couple of years trying to build some online companies in Poland with some smaller, bigger successes. Couple of them went down, but I was able to sell another one and then stage most exciting, I guess, for me, at least. My life was when I moved to Nigeria. That was in 14, working for a big, big European, uh, Investment fund focused on online businesses.

[00:07:06] And we started in Nigeria, a big ecommerce group that ended up on New York stock exchange last year. And that was like five years of venture of just basically building the so-called Amazon of Africa, because obviously we want it to be as cool as Amazon. It’s a totally different story. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, uh, yeah, w let’s just break it up a little bit, but, but, um, I think, yeah, I remember you were talking about, I think it was funeral services in the book you talk about in, uh, in Poland, you were, you were kind of making a website for, for funerals or for, uh, at least one of your adventures.

[00:07:42] That was, that was a cool story. And then the mafia that was getting into it or something or in it, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, sorry, you go ahead. Uh, that was basically it, but yeah, I mean, you’re even kind of relating like, you know, pull. I have, like I said before, the recording, I went to Polish Catholic high school in the U S and I have some really good Polish friends, but it is a little bit, a little bit rougher, you know, it’s not West.

[00:08:09] Is it central? Western? Is it West, I guess is Western Europe. It’s considered East. So, you know, we are either called the. The Germans of the East or the Russians of the West. Uh, I got it. That’s how it is always described being in between those two countries. It was definitely an early stage market and emerging market, but clearly way more advanced than major.

[00:08:35] Yeah. But there was a lot of corruption back in the day. There was also a lot of chaos and so on. So the nuts, too much trust in the market. Definitely my experiences in component then prepared me well for. Therefore Nigeria. Yeah. You mentioned the funeral business. I always had this crazy approach to business that I really liked businesses in the very early stage where no one else wants to do it because I don’t like competition.

[00:09:00] So when you don’t like competition, you have to go to markets where everyone else is afraid of. I figured I chose food and our business as an online business in Poland because. Those were the times, the day is where everyone wanted to build another Facebook. Everyone wanted to build another MySpace or Twitter and so on and all the cool, young, smart kids were trying to do the social media thing.

[00:09:23] And I figured if all of these brightest minds are trying to run open a business in social media or FinTech, none of them would want to open a business in funeral sector because it’s just not sexy at all. But the technology disruption was happening there as well. People needed to use more software when they were running those houses and people were looking for those services online as well.

[00:09:51] So it wasn’t use which I found very interesting, but also very tough. Yeah. I mean, we can go somewhere. I mean, there’s so much to talk about. I mean, your book is great and it’s a, it’s a big book. So I mean, People welcome to, to read for the full story. I think we can focus in Africa. I mean, we could also pull into just so much to talk about.

[00:10:10] But yeah, you were a little, you didn’t mention the names, but you meant, I mean, I think listeners should know rocket internet. I, I even encountered rocket internet over here in Asia. I could share a little bit, but, I remember they were going crazy in Hong Kong. When they bought group, no Groupon bought them.

[00:10:31] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So rocket internet, we’re pretty strong in Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, as you mentioned, Lazada, I think they started Lazada and yeah. Yeah. Which is crazy. So. But I was in Hong Kong and China bouncing back and forth. And, uh, I almost worked for, I was, maybe we could have been one of the five or ten first employees of a group on Hong Kong.

[00:10:58] Oh, nice. That’s very nice. They were going crazy fast. They were just hiring every failure, hiring everybody like a, yeah. It was insane. Grow faster than anyone else. Yeah, that was the, the investment has, is really you. Cause rocket, the inside is really like top three in terms of e-commerce groups worldwide after Alibaba and Amazon, they just are not that known because they have many, many brands in many countries.

[00:11:26] And, uh, that investment has, this was very simple. I entered the market as early as possible. Grow as fast as possible beat the competition destroy the competition. Just do whatever it takes to be number one, because the assumption is that once we’re number one, it’s easier to remain. Number one. In a specific business model.

[00:11:46] Yeah. And then once you remain the number one position and the market itself grows because the clients just start buying everything online, just because then you’re going to grow together with the monitor. That was always the strategy. They had trouble in China, for sure. But I guess everybody has trouble in China, but I was watching it my own eyes.

[00:12:09] That’s a whole another topic, but yeah. I mean, China is obviously different for every everybody. Um, but yeah, so, you know, that was a great opportunity. So in the book, you, I think we should talk about the discussion. Cause a lot of listeners here we’re, we’re we’re uh, a lot of listeners are sellers, you know, e-commerce sellers buying from China, Asia selling in the West, Amazon or e-commerce or, you know, doing import export is kind of our, our niche here, but.

[00:12:36] You know, they, everybody does business. So I remember in the book, you had this difficult discussion where you took the opportunity to go to Africa and joined this early stage rocket to start this new venture. Um, you had to obviously have a really hard talk with one of your business partners or investors.

[00:12:53] Do you want to share about that? I think that would be really insightful. Oh, you’re talking about the internet problems. Uh, before Interpol, this is your Poland. I forget which venture you were doing in follow-up interview. Yeah. Well, you had accepted the offer at rocket, but then you went back to your partner.

[00:13:17] Okay. I get you. I had to tell them you were going to Africa and leaving. I know what you mean. Okay. So yes, my business partner, he was my engine investor. Then we became partners in my funeral, online business in Poland. He was a great guy by the way. He spent many years in Japan and then he came back to Poland.

[00:13:39] And we had this, you know, pretty interesting business having opportunity to grow from Poland to Czech Republic, maybe Romania, so going through other Eastern European countries. But I, at that stage, I was already hungry of some global adventure, like big scale, rocket internet, going to Africa, just doing something crazy.

[00:13:56] And I got this job offer to jointhem. And I did all that without even sending him a thing. And I had, then I had this dinner. During this dinner, we’re talking about the expansion of our own startup. And then after the main course, before the dessert, I’m saying, what about I just, what about you just buy my shirts and you do it, everything on your own.

[00:14:18] And I just remember the look on his face and obviously he was upset and everything, but he said, he told me something which even do today with great friends because of how he reacted. Then he said, I mean, if I were you, I would totally do it because he knew that the adventure I was about to embark on was pretty similar to his adventure when he was moving to Japan in the nineties.

[00:14:47] So he’s like, you’re gonna, you’re gonna grow as a person on so many levels. You don’t even, you can’t even imagine. Okay. And you don’t even know. And, and I didn’t know about that then I realized after a couple of years what he meant, so yeah. Yeah. I mean, same here. I mean, living abroad just changes your whole perspective of yeah.

[00:15:07] Like world life, business. Yeah, totally, absolutely everything. And I spent all my life in Poland until I was 23. Sorry, 20. 26. And, Poland is a very homogeneous homogenuous country homogeneous. Those like everyone is white and cathartic, you know? Yeah. Yeah. I have those for it. Full of friends. They bring it to the U S it’s like they got the Polish community and it’s like the, uh, Yeah, I know the Catholic.

[00:15:37] Yeah, the Catholic. And then there’s a basement with the sausage or it’s not sausage.

[00:15:45] Correct. And the vodka. Oh man, the drinking. Yeah. Okay. I see you. If they said it to me. Too many times in my previous life. So, so let’s now let’s go into Africa. So yeah, you, uh, you took this off to enjoy rocket and start, uh, I’m forgetting the names do Mia is the, but it was actually, yeah, there was actually, is that the same?

[00:16:15] There was a travel and then it was e-commerce and I remember, yeah, yeah. We launched the seven business models in total at once. There was this online travel I was responsible for and that travel and without true commerce we were on from marketplace. We also launched classifieds. We always stayed in cars.

[00:16:34] We’ve announced even the right heading and we’ve launched food delivery. Right heading, we had to kill very fast because Margaret was not ready or we were not good enough. And after two years we decided to kind of merge them all under one brand and then thinking about doing this one super app. Um, and then we were growing like as drew me up for the next year.

[00:16:57] Yep. So let’s just, let’s just call it junior then for this. So you, you go to Africa and I haven’t been Africa, honestly. I’ve been in China. Well, Asia, there’s mostly China, but Asia for 13 years, I haven’t been to Africa yet. It’s on my list, but I don’t even know. I mean, I always think about getting, you know, all these vaccinations and shots.

[00:17:20] I think he’s mentioned it in, in your book as well, but you know, what was, what was this, you know, what’s this going through here first time to leave Poland, you’re preparing a flight to Africa. I think it was pretty short notice, you know? What was the, you know, and then getting there and then adjusting, you know, how was all that.

[00:17:37] Everything now looks like it all made sense from hindsight. Uh, I want to embark on this international adventure with rocket internet and I would go anywhere they would send me. And the funny thing was that I actually was thinking I’m going to go to Egypt for a couple of weeks and, and then they just told me no, no, we are launching Nigeria first.

[00:17:58] Um, and the only thing I knew about Nigeria back then there really was. What Google told me she was a book of harassments and they on three scammers. Yeah. Glean write the emails. Yeah. But I didn’t really care because I had nothing to lose. I was so excited about finally joining this, you know, working for record internet for an online entrepreneur from Poland is like, is like driving for formula one for Ferrari.

[00:18:24] Yeah, because I want to work with them for these two years and you’re gonna learn so much. So I was so excited and I’m like, okay, Nigeria, the harder, the better I don’t care. And, uh, and then to be honest, I was actually lucky that my personality and my backgrounds from Poland really prepared me well to Nigeria, but that was a huge coincidence because after six months in Nigeria, most of my friends were already gone.

[00:18:49] That the churn was so big. Yeah, because Nigeria is just so different on so many levels. Um, cultural wise than Poland, uh, infrastructure is a big [00:19:00] issue. People are shouting. They’re all very expressive when they love you. They will tell you when they hate you, they will tell you. It’s also like the contradiction, I think of Asian stereotype is I can call it like this.

[00:19:10] Yeah. Asian people are very polite. This is the total opposite in Western Africa, for example, I mean, they’re very laughable and they smile at you and everything, but everything, nothing goes wrong. They’re going to. Just go crazy after it. There’s a big gap in communities and parts of China I’ve experienced that.

[00:19:31] Yeah. Then there’s things off, you know, just timing. There’s this dog that we have, the Watchers they have, the time Jeremy has just done in such a different way. And this is a risky thing because. If you’re used to certain things being done in a different way, you can get easily frustrated. And there there’s, there’s this joke that I want to tell you, that kind of gives you an image of what I’m trying to say. That the job goes, this was the difference between a tourist and a racist in Nigeria.

[00:20:04] And the answer is wewak, which basically means if you don’t allow yourself to change your attitude, if you don’t open your mind. And if you don’t understand that certain things are just done differently, it doesn’t mean they’re better. It doesn’t mean they’re worse. They’re just different. If you don’t change your mindset, you will end up being a racist because everything will frustrate you to a point that you will really.

[00:20:33] And this is very, I think, relevant in, in life, but this is also very relevant in business. That’s true. Yeah. It makes me think of China. Like when I first came to China, I was thinking like a lot of Westerners that I, you know, why are they doing things not so efficiently. I can kind of standardize this. I can make, you know, make it better the way things are done.

[00:20:56] Cause I was trying to buy from factories before Inefficiently when I was in the U S for my business. And. Similar similar, similar, you know, we go there and we think we can change China arch, you know, they will adjust to the way I think is better to do something. Right. And then usually most foreigners go nuts because.

[00:21:19] You just, it looked at this trade war, you know, we think Donald Trump thinks he can change China, you know, like he just, it’s just not possible. So if you don’t, I think somebody said to me, you have three, three things can happen to me. I’m gonna leave. Uh, I’m gonna, uh, uh, I have a breakdown or I’m going to deal with it.

[00:21:44] I think something like that. Yeah. Like a friend. Yeah. I’m well, I’m still here. I am still here. Uh, so yeah, I learned to deal with it, which is somewhat, almost bad though, in a way, cause he [00:22:00] kind of, I think there’s Tia, there’s tic, you know what I’m talking about? This is Africa. It’s almost a little bit, you always go the opposite.

[00:22:10] Cause now it becomes so local, you know? Yeah. It’s a little bit balanced. You still want, at least me, I still try to be foreign foreigner to localize a little bit too much, but, um, so, so, you know, But I think you’ve kind of been taught to talking about these points I have on my list here, but, you know, relationship building, you know, you, you, you were kind of sourcing all these hotels and, uh, it’s, uh, you know, and you know, it seems like you’re making it happen kind of person, you know, there’s a huge amount of pressure.

[00:22:45] There was culture differences, you know, KPIs. Maybe just focus on the relationship building and maybe dealing with these different environments and cultures, you know, I think you were in the attic of some of the rocket internet and he had like one room and a desk and like two people or something, you know, something like that.

[00:23:05] Yeah. We started very small. We had, we just rented this huge Leila and then each of the companies just talking small place because I was late there. I think I arrived the last they gave me this. Just call us a floor when there was no AC and there was a rat in my room, but I didn’t, it was just so much fun.

[00:23:24] Um, yeah, it was, it was super important because we know I was responsible for launching this essentially booking.com version of Africa, book hotels online. And obviously the technology part, the product part is important to have a website that works. But if you don’t get use of the hotels, you’ll never be able to book to offer any bookings.

[00:23:46] And there was like 10,000 hotels in Nigeria and maybe 500 of them knew the concept of an online travel agency or like booking.com [00:24:00] back then. So I actually had to. Like explain them how a deal works and why, why they should pay me, you know, 10 or 15% for giving them a client from the internet. And what is this thing called internet.

[00:24:12] And, and, uh, how, how, how, why they should give me the lowest available rate on the internet and so on. And that was extremely tough for me. And I remember just first couple of weeks, all I did was just going through all those. Meetings and just listening to those guys, something’s fucking bullshit. But I was just trying to understand where they’re coming from and it was hard for me to explain them.

[00:24:37] Why it makes sense for them to pay me 15%. And that’s 2% of the commission, because if you are running a hotel and you don’t know your real cost of customer acquisition, and you don’t know how much you can pay, uh, so some hotels wanted to pay only 2%. Some or some of the hotels wanted to pay 50% because they thought they just going to Mark up the price, which also doesn’t make sense.

[00:24:57] So I’m out of education. And then in the end, when it comes to relationships, And which kind of leads me to my second adventure in Africa. After Julia, the Interpol is when you choose your partners wrongly. Then you can just end up in a very, very, very big, big trouble. I ended up being afraid to run a business on my own because everyone told me you have to have a strong local partner in time in case something goes wrong in case of some bad people go after you.

[00:25:27] What? No one told you it’s sometimes the people you eat with can be better. Yeah. I remember though. Yeah. Yeah. Essentially what happened is I, it started like a normal business conflict in the cause we launched a software company and at some point I think they just decided that they don’t need this, where they can continue to run this company on their own.

[00:25:54] I already did my job. I entered, you know, allowed the business go some clients, but some first funding and they figured they can do it without me. And they just tried to kick me out of the company, thinking that. If they kicked me out of the country, they can do it on their own, but they didn’t know that, you know, with software, I can try to block myself, protect myself from, from the, from other country.

[00:26:15] And, uh, after they kicked me out of Nigeria then because my visa got deleted and I had to leave and I was able to fight, take my company back because it’s a software company and they, like I said, I can control it from wherever I am. That’s when they decided to blackmail me, you’re either going to give us the company for nothing, or are we going to bribe the Nigerian police?

[00:26:34] And we will bring you back to Nigeria. And this time you will go to jail, which was started my huge, big adventure on the negative side, which will also is in the book because in the end, I. I had to take my dream police to court as the first night, first foreigner in the history of Nigeria and they won.

[00:26:52] So police the money. So that was, yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah. Just to summarize, so yeah, actually also the crazy thing, which actually happens in China too. And I think other foreign countries is just to be clear, it was foreign partners. It wasn’t even local Africa. At least from what I recall in my reading, it was foreign partners that did this.

[00:27:14] No, that was the thing. It was an Indian and anti-oppression guy. Those were my two business partners and they even had the American passport. And that was the irony of the whole situation because. I was afraid to do a business within Nigeria because of the bad PR you know, the scammers and everything.

[00:27:34] And in the end, I was the American guy and the England tried to screw me and then Nigerians helped me here. So that was a, that was the big lesson. It’s true. I mean, a lot, it seems similar to China. Although there are, I don’t know about , but in China, there’s definitely a lot of ones. Local partners taken advantage, similar situation where they think they don’t need you anymore.

[00:27:57] You may be delivered the initial value. They think you’re not adding value. So they try to find a way to get rid of you. Um, But yeah. What a lot of people don’t realize is like you said, it’s foreign foreigners or other expats that you meet in the bar, you meet in the social life. You get a relationship, you can connect with more as an, a culture.

[00:28:19] Basis that, uh, they think that they, I don’t know. I think a lot of times foreigners outside of the country think they can get away with this stuff because they’re not in their home country and they can kind of cheat and steal. I also, yeah, but it’s not that easy. Yeah. It’s an interesting concept because even now we’re really becoming.

[00:28:41] We believe we have become a global village with the internet and the technology and everyone’s speaking English or, or, or, or, or money Mandarin, right. Mediterranean Cantonese one or anything like that. Uh, but then we still have to work around those nation borders. Those legal structures within those countries with kind of are not up to date with where the world is now.

[00:29:07] Which is like, for example, what was the problem of my case? Yeah, I’m this Polish guy doing business in Nigeria and there was Interpol involved at some point in my case because my business partner bribed the Nigerian police. All you have to do is to take, go to bright one, like very average Nigerian policeman.

[00:29:25] You would just give him some money to sign a paper. And then with that paper, you can, you can have me. Arrested anywhere in the world, as long as there’s a country, which is a part of Interpol because you brought some, some average policemen somewhere in Nigeria.

[00:29:42] Sorry, I’m making a joke.Arrest arrest your friend, your friend.com.

[00:29:59] Oh, that’ll be bad April. Fool’s joke. You know, you just get somebody, your friend arrested at the airport and it’s like, April fools like takes the handcuffs off, man. That would be a good one. Yeah, no, be a good one. Actually in, in Portland, I heard that in lockdown. And when you were tired of sitting in the house of your family, you would hire someone to come to pretend they’re from police to take you because you know, you have Corona or

[00:30:32] yeah. So. So this is, uh, this is also a good lesson, right? People think, Oh, I can trust, uh, you know, another foreigner expat um, it’s a, but uh, you gotta protect yourself no matter what. And yeah, I mean, I remember you had said you were traveling to see your girlfriend and then you went back to Poland, but there was a flight change and yeah, you were basically trying to leave Poland and then you got.

[00:31:00] I believe it was you at least traveled Europe, and then you, yeah, you get that. The I’ve had is actually not, not at that level, but I’ve had those where the immigration agents looking at you and looking at a screen and looking at you, and then somebody comes to talk to you. Like that is the worst. That is the scariest feeling.

[00:31:22] Every time I’m, I’m on the airport, obviously not as often because of Corona, but everything. You know, just ended up. The whole case finished the last year, I’m thinking positively. I was able to defend myself, prove my innocence and so on. But even though every time I would travel from the airport, I would have to give my passport to anyone in a uniform.

[00:31:46] You’re I dunno, in level just goes up and stays in your body. I have similar, you know, I haven’t been arrested in an airport, but there has been some issues there’s been issues with visas and stuff. It’s just scary. Yeah, I know. So it’s just cause that’s where they check you, you know? And that’s where the, you know, they put an ID and database.

[00:32:08] We’ve had other guests on the show. They couldn’t leave China because there was a lawsuit against them. And he didn’t even know that there was a lawsuit against him because he didn’t get a phone call. And, uh, they, uh, They didn’t arrest him, but they, they wouldn’t let him leave. So he’s, he’s actually stuck in China.

[00:32:25] He’s an Australian entrepreneur until he pays off his debt. Which acts. Yeah. And I can say the show is interesting is John Graham he’s, uh, he, uh, sold as Jim basically, but, but, uh, basically a lot of times you find out you’re in trouble at borders, borders are always an immigration is where you find out if there’s a problem on your, you know, while you were in that country, any other country, that’s where these things are.

[00:32:57] This, these things are run in that checked. So, so let’s, uh, you know, I, it was, could be much longer, but you know, we’re both busy and I think people can read your book for the ins and outs of this. Um, but I do want to talk about Africa. You know, you were there earlier, you know, now we’re in 2020. I mean, it’s still, probably early.

[00:33:19] I mean, what do you think of the AF Africa when you started Africa now and maybe the Africa future. You know, am I being general by saying Africa, you know, the massive continents, you know, it’s a different market. It’s 54 countries and obviously hundreds of languages and thousands of ethnic groups and so on.

[00:33:40] But you have to somehow generalize, especially when you’re talking about the potential yet. Um, it’s still very early. Uh, you have more than a billion of people, but their purchasing power is super small. It will only get better if the economy gets better and the governments get better. But if someone enters early enough and then can grow [00:34:00] together with the market, like I told you, because the winner takes it all night.

[00:34:03] Yeah. Everyone is trying to raise enough money and be in Africa early enough and then have enough money to survive until it gets really, really good. That’s how I see it because still. Africa is nowhere near India or China. Again, I’m comparing continents to countries because China, you gotta just so big.

[00:34:22] Yeah. But Africa is nowhere near in terms of purchasing power. Yeah. You have a billion of people, but maybe, maybe 5% of them make more than a thousand and dollars per month and so on. So there’s still a long way to go. And the disproportion between the region, the poor and so under infrastructure challenges.

[00:34:41] So it’s extremely, extremely early, still. I mean in calmer I’m my, my focus is on eCommerce in Africa. It’s so much money to make it right now. I’m just doing it for the long, for the long game. And I can wait because I have other things to do. Uh, but right now, um, what is extremely booming in Africa is definitely, uh, farming and food.

[00:35:01] Because Africa just imports way too much food and the soil is way too good to import it. So if anyone is doing anything with food production or any technology, or even just production itself, that’s where that revolution is happening. Okay. And then definitely FinTech because FinTech, so insurance loans and simple money transfers.

[00:35:22] This is the type of product everyone needs. It doesn’t matter if you have $1 a day or you have $1 million a month. At some point you were getting short answer, you will send someone money, you or borrow some money. And, uh, with FinTech, you can reach everyone having a phone without having to be with the structure and operations in local offices.

[00:35:40] So now the big scramble is happening in terms of, uh, in terms of FinTech. Uh, this is, this is where the big, big change will happen in the next two to four years. Everything else since the way, that’s how I see it. Okay. Uh, also I’m one of my top blog posts is how to get a U S bank account as an American.

[00:35:57] And I have tons of Nigerians [00:36:00] messaging us day. So if you have a solution for that, I dunno. I, I, it random one, but, uh, looking to help them.

[00:36:12] Um, so this is good. So then you kind of hit the next question with the opportunities in the markets. Um, You know, I think it’s just always general advice, but, you know, I think we’re getting towards the end of our, you know, our, our chat here. It’s been great. You know, what’s some advice people in high it’s kind of general, but say some talking to your younger self and.

[00:36:36] There’s opportunity to go. Obviously it seems like, yes, go, you know, what, what are some things you should do tell your younger self, if you were going to do it again or tell somebody, listening to getting into this, this is going to sound very cheesy. Cause I really think that all the knowledge, all the good advice are out there, people just don’t stick to them.

[00:36:55] The best advice are the ones that you stick to. That’s all I will say. Just like with diet, the best diet is the one who can stick. I personally, I think, I think I’ve done is I went into business too fast. Cause I dropped out of university. I wanted it to be like Steve jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. It didn’t work.

[00:37:13] Um, then you realize that they were actually the exception of the rule. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, that the highest of abilities for you to first work for someone finish good university and then go to business after you’re 30, because then we already saw well experience and most of the mistakes you have done, someone else has paid for that has paid for, for them.

[00:37:33] I would definitely study it a little bit longer or they go good university. Not because the quality of their knowledge is so good, but because I’m going to meet some great friends and just by chance, just like on some of them will become very successful. And then maybe it’s good to know them from the early days.

[00:37:49] Um, cause interesting. That’s fine. Yeah. I guess I went to entrepreneurship too fast and I believe that. If you have what it takes, you’re still going to make it. And sometimes starting later would allow you to finish faster just because of the roads will be without so many mistakes. Okay. That’s really good.

[00:38:11] Yeah. And I think it’s a little unique, you know, I think, I think a lot of, well nowadays say skip school, or, you know, you know, John, you know, you don’t need college and stuff like that. So that’s really insightful. Thanks for that. And. And of course the book we keep mentioning it, but it’s called chasing black unicorns and you have that domain so they could type that I went in or I got it on Amazon, or you have all the different, big book formats, but it’s a, the title of the full title, which we mentioned Interpol chasing black unicorns.

[00:38:45] How building debt, Amazon and Africa put me on Interpol’s most wanted list. And the website is also chasingblackunicorns.com. You can find all the information about the book about myself and also about the foundation, because I think we didn’t mention this, all the revenue goes charity. Yeah, my, uh, yeah, you’re putting all the income and sales into the, uh, impactful charity initiatives with such as my, uh, foundation, which is awesome.

[00:39:14] I think, I think then that’s it, but definitely I think people, you should check it out. It’s, it’s a, it’s a big book and it, I went through the whole thing and, uh, while I remember, uh, I saw it, I’m like Africa and I’m in Asia. I always liked these stories. I always like these, you know, I think there is big relationships between the two as far as, especially for like, you know, a foreigner or a westerner, you know, trying to dive in and, and the experiences you go through and the changes, you know, I think the biggest one.

[00:39:44] I, I, I highly recommend people to leave your home country or at least your hometown, you know, go to another or city outside of you from your hometown friends. And I think just anything to break the mold you’re in, you’re born into, you know, I think it’s the best way to see the world. And of course, we’re in Corona phase right now.

[00:40:05] Hopefully it will be ending sometime soon, but, uh, you know, I think that’s, that’s the best way to, to, to really learn about yourself. So thanks so much, man. I really enjoyed the call

[00:40:20] maybe some couple months from now. See where we both are. Do you enjoy these podcasts? And we create so much content here. Our team is basically a content team. We’ve we help a few other people with their shows, help people with their blogs and content. We have a huge network of websites. If you want to work with us, see what we’re up to contentinvestments.com is a little mini site for that.

[00:40:44] Thanks for those that are subscribing. Thank you so much, Marek. It was really a really cool, um, I felt a little bit of similarities, you know, coming out to Asia, following the passions, we even had some overlaps with different companies that we had encountered and he, um, has really gotten an amazing story.

[00:41:05] And it’s a great book. Again, check it out. Jeez, black unicorns on Amazon and various channels links in the show notes. We have always our best try our best to put all the information into our. Extensive show notes at global, from asia.com and we also have a newsletter and other things happening. So check those things out there, Marek.

[00:41:27] And I learned some things, you know, it’s true. Regardless, take more ch challenges. We’ve got to take more risks. I have a, almost stopped taking risks this year. I’m just trying to kind of get through this year. I hope next year is better, but, uh, wherever you are, keep learning, keep preparing, you know, I’m doubling down on online.

[00:41:48] I mentioned earlier online events, online networking. Uh, it’s pretty awesome though, because we can do that from anywhere. We don’t need to worry. Um, you know what we’re going through, where we are, travel and, uh, Let me keep this one short our outro today. Thanks again for listening. I really, really appreciate everybody here.

[00:42:09] Have a great day. See you later. To get more info about running an international business. Please visit our website at www.globalfromasia.com. That’s www.globalfromasia.com. Also be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.

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