Of all his career choices, technology appeared at the bottom. Solomon Gachugu had never owned or even interacted with a computer. His goal in life was to be an accountant.
But things turned out different.
The 40-year-old started Data Comm Systems and Solution, a multi-million company in Nakuru County, which provides internet and computer services to clients across Kenya.
Enterprise found Gachugu at his business along Nakuru’s Kenyatta Avenue, designing back code stickers for a flower farm in Naivasha. He took us through the process as he demonstrated his passion for technology.
How it all began
“I started the company because Information Technology (IT) was new in the market back then in 2005. I saw the need to venture and align myself in the niche as a way of giving solutions to people’s problems. We are a Jack of all trades when it comes to technology, I believe we are the best,” he said.
Gachugu started his business with Sh3,500 after quitting his job. He was paid Sh3,000 a month in 2004 as a cybercafé administrator and he ventured into the computer business on his own.
The soft-spoken Gachugu never imagined that the enthusiasm and hard work would see him expand his business and create job opportunities for many locals.
“If you had asked me years ago if one day I would employ people, I would laugh. But now I’m happy that I have given the youth an opportunity to work in a safe environment and contribute to building the economy of the country,” he said.
Growing up and career path
Growing up in Nyandarua County was tough for Gachugu, his mother worked tirelessly to place food on the table for their family. After completing his A-levels in 2000, he joined KCA University, Kisumu, to study accounting but failed to finish the course, owing to post-election skirmishes. He was forced to return to Nyandarua.
He enrolled for computer packages at Tracom College in Nakuru. However, the school’s principal persuaded him to instead study a computer engineering course. He had no knowledge of the course but accepted the challenge.
“I loved accounting and had really tried to enrol for the course but I was smitten by computers. Technology has made everything easy, possible and more exciting when problem-solving,” he said.
After finishing his studies, he tarmacked and finally got a job as a cybercafé administrator where he worked for six months. He quit the job to venture on his own as a computer technician and also work on the maintenance of printing machines.
“I paid Sh3,500 as rent for a room where I’d operate from. I then walked shop by shop convincing clients to let me service their computers,” he recalled.
At 23 years old, he faced his fears; capital was a challenge and winning customers’ trust was a tough task, but he pressed on with the agenda of making the business survive.
Now, his business operates as a one-stop retail shop where customers can get all the products and services at a go.
The dynamism in the tech industry made him learn new challenges online and remain relevant to the evolving industry.
Gachugu is certified by global tech giants such as Huawei, Dell, HP, and Microsoft, among other companies.
He is always up for a challenge and has also enrolled in a number of institutions to remain relevant in the market.
“Three years ago, I was called by a school in Kilimanjaro to fix their computer systems and network, only to notice that their water pump was leaking. I came back to Nakuru and did a short course on water pumping and ground falls with a company in the UK and got certified after three months. I went back to the client and fixed the problem,” said Gachugu.
His business, he said, has grown with time since they focus on numerous clients, ranging from schools, firms, hospitals, government institutions, to individuals, attributing it to research and adapting to new trends in the market.
Research has helped the company to grow by anticipating customer needs.
“Our clients are diverse and have different needs depending on their specialisation and the company addresses them differently, which has earned us trust and referrals,” he said.
Gachugu has two other businesses; namely, Data Waves Network, which provides data solutions, and Bogoria Online Stores, which sells computers, printers, laptops, cameras, surveillance cameras and other products online.
He owns about six internet masts erected in three counties, which help in providing fast internet to schools, companies, hospitals, and churches.
Gachugu’s memorable moment was when he was given two Samsung TV sets in 2012 for being the best in East Africa when it comes to virus protection and installation.
“I wish I had the knowledge I have now 10 years ago, I would have been the best seller and trainer in Africa. For now, I train students on attachment and offer advice to some companies on technology.”
“In the next five years, I would like to own a fibre company that operates countrywide. I have done a short course on cyber-crime offered by Michigan University,” he explained his vision.
Gachugu advises youth to diversify their minds and kill the mentality that there is no employment, yet they can become self-employed given that the country is developing.