My passion is bringing music to youth startups

Kelvin Mulei’s vision to help the youth achieve their dreams has landed him in the Lion’s Den. [Standard]
Kelvin Mulei’s life revolves around music.

The not-so-young owner of Mo Sound Group says he found himself when he finally got to actualise his passion for music.

At one time, Mulei was a reluctant small-scale farmer and an occasional cobbler, just trying to find solutions to everyday needs. From a humble background, he is today striding the entertainment industry with polished gait and a love for what he does.

Mulei’s vision to help the youth achieve their dreams has landed him in the Lion’s Den. In the upcoming season of the premier show that airs on KTN, the media executive will be looking for deals to invest in, and dishing out advice to upcoming entrepreneurs.

He spoke to Hustle about his mission.

Who is Kevin Mulei?

Difficult question. I’m exactly what you see right here. I’m a young Kenyan - no, I’m not young anymore. I struggle to speak about myself, to be honest. Kevin Mullei is an entrepreneur, a father, very passionate about entertaining people and media industry. Just being able to create those platforms where guys can come in and do their thing.

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I’m a 360 kind of guy. I listen to rock, it could be reggae, it just depends on what I’m doing. But I’m built by music, I just love music. In fact, you’ll find me looking for Chinese music and I have quite a bit of Indian. I try to discover a lot of music from different portals.

Why do you support youth?

Honestly, there’s so many young people out there with many great ideas. All they need is someone to listen to them, give them guidance. And when I look at my journey from when I was young, I needed such people and today I’m in a place of influence where I can listen to them. I can’t listen to everyone but the few that I can, I need to be able to guide them and hopefully they’ll be able to take their business to the next level.

Tell us about your background.

I was raised by my grandmother from a very humble background and she taught me a couple of principles which looked like such a tough beginning. But I’m very happy that I went through that. At first I felt that it was a disadvantage but when I look back, I’m happy that I came from that low to where I am today.

However, life is the way you look at it. There are so many people with great opportunities but they don’t use them positively. But I would say of the things that really brought me to where I am, the key one is passion. My love for music opened many doors for me.

My passion for entertaining people made me the kind of person that I am, and I hope to give another person the opportunity to really become (what they aim to be). I did not choose to be in business - my passion, my love for what I do today has led one step to another. All I wanted was to provide solutions to the needs that I see every day.

I don’t look at it solely as a place to make money but of changing lives, touching lives, shaping culture... being able to influence as little as I can every day. And that is what motivates me every day just to get up and come and do what I do best.

How did you get into the entertainment business?

I’ve done so many things in my life. I was once a farmer, when I was seven years old, and my grandmother gave me a space and I was doing cabbages and tomatoes. It wasn’t making sense then but when I look back, I see clearly. I was also a cobbler at some point. All those things I was doing because I was trying to provide a solution.

However, I can’t really mark where the first business was. But as a DJ when I began doing it professionally, that was sort of a mark, that I was on the right track in terms of my love for music and providing a bigger answer to what I felt was needed at that particular point.

But then I retired very early as a DJ, I was 24. I decided instead to help clients to build a better organisation for the different things that they were doing in line with events. And that took me to my love for media entertainment.

I wanted to do radio for nine years from 2009, looking to do a radio station and thank God, last year we did it. So really, it’s business that is led by passion and mission.

What is your vision?

My personal vision is to shake out. Then there’s the extension of the business, which is drawn from my personal vision. We’re just creating platforms for young people to be able to showcase their gifts and talents. That is core for me; the more platforms we create for these young people to come and just do their stuff, positive stuff, I feel I have achieved my goal.

You may never see me on a stage... actually, I never thought I would be part of the Lions, maybe it’s my season to do this. But I am a strong believer, I’m one to create the platforms for them to come and showcase and fulfill their purpose. What really brings out that environment is an understanding of why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Mo Sound Group is a pan-African Entertainment Network. We touch a lot of content for radio, film, short films, entertainment, music.... We do animation, advertisement, brand activations, build brands. We are a group that can entertain, engage, inspire. We’ve been able to do that because of the amazing team that we have; I credit my team with being able to give more than just what they’re called to do. And they have ownership of what the agenda for the day is.

What advice would you give to young people who want to be entrepreneurs?

So many young people want to be entrepreneurs, fantastic. But I believe there are some steps that every person must go through, I believe success is a science.

The young generation, most of them, want to wake up one day and become a Chris Kirubi, (or) the Chandarias, but it’s not a switch, it is a journey.

However, I believe there’s more that successful entrepreneurs can do; we need to tell our story. We need to choose platforms where we can help young people. Sometimes they will be encouraged by being told the idea is good, but did you check 12345 things? Or good proposal, but a couple of things are missing, would you like to look at that?

There are a couple of things that I look at keenly. Track record is very important, you don’t just wake up and say ‘I need money’. There must be a bit of a track record, if you fought your way a bit. And the level of your passion, if someone is putting in eight hours and another is putting in 16 hours, you have no chance of competing. So there is need for more people to come out and mentor the upcoming entrepreneurs.

What are the key attributes to successful entrepreneurship?

Focus and discipline. It’s almost impossible for you to be successful as an entrepreneur without those two. If you choose a certain path, go so deep into it that you are the best.

You’ll find many people want to follow the trend of the day but (if) you lose yourself, you lose your mission - what and who you’re actually trying to compete with - and you end up with the wrong people who don’t carry the same vision that you have.

There are places where you have to evaluate your key goals. However, once you get your focus and discipline right, you find the things that you do every day contribute so much at the end of the game. That could be the difference between you and the person that you probably started with two years back.

What kind of entrepreneurs will you be looking for in Lion’s Den?

I’m a very open minded person, but I choose to do things that I’m good at. I’m not into real estate, no, but if you come with an idea which is touching the entertainment and media industry, content, then you are mine.

No one is going to touch you, we’re going to have a very good conversation. And we’ll do great stuff together.

It depends on the day, but 99 per cent of the time I’m very specific. If I’m not good at something I don’t waste my time doing it.

Will you be looking for joint deals with other Lions?

Joint deals are great alright. I’m a strong believer of putting heads together. But I think when we get into the show we’ll get to understand the strengths, how we can collaborate.

Would you say you are a workaholic?

There is no entrepreneur that will ever tell you they are workaholics, all I know is I have to put in the time. Second, I have to be in touch with my people, to feel their heartbeat and innovate.

When I’m not working, I’m with my family or I’m watching football. I have shares with Arsenal and Barcelona, by the way.

What time do you wake up?

I used to be that guy who used to wake up at 5am but when you get married, a couple of things change. But I accommodate my time pretty well. I love to flex my hours.

How approachable are you?

I’ve always been approachable. Always. Even nowadays when I’m a bit strict with my time, I always make time, especially for young people, even if it’s three minutes. What are you selling and can we have a look at it? There’s a way to summarise the conversation, but you’ve given them time that they feel, ‘Okay, that guy heard me’.

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Kelvin MuleMo Sound GroupSteve Mbego