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David Karangu: From Dishwasher to Multi-Millionaire

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David Karangu with pilots David Karangu with pilots

“I arrived in the U.S when I was 17 on a Wednesday and on a Friday I was employed as a dishwasher at IHop,” said David Karangu a businessman who is based in Atlanta. David was arguably the only Kenyan in attendance who landed in Washington D.C via his own personal airplane to attend the conference.

Speaking at the Plenary Session titled Kenya Diaspora Success in America: Helping/Positioning Self to Help Kenya –What it takes. And more specifically on the topic of: What it takes to succeed in business in U.S.A and how this success can be transferred to Kenya, David noted that when he arrived from Kenya getting employed in jobs like dishwashing was what every Kenyan took. “From the beginning I knew I would not be happy doing this,” he said, “And when I was 18 I made a decision that when I turned 30 years I would have a net-worth of 1 million dollars.” He would enroll to Morgan State College and venture in the car sale business while attending college. He fell in love with everything about cars and built his fortune through the car business. His Ivory Chevrolet Car Dealship in Atlanta was a Bronze sponsor of the conference. In giving advice he noted the following points as a guideline to becoming successfully

Start Business based on the profession you are in.
David discussed that it is easier to start in the profession one is in. He noted he worked in the car business and when he started his business he started in the field of cars. He noted it is easier to make a business plan on what one already is doing and be successful rather than trying to copy someone else.

Do what you love
In discussing this David noted that for a business to succeed one has to put a lot of time and effort and thus doing what one loves will make it easy for one to put the needed time resource.

Write a business plan based on 5 years or 10 years
The emphasis here was on one writing the business plan saying that he has operated 10 car dealerships and the only dealership that gave him problems is the one he did not work on a business plan. He added the business plan should be based on 5 years or 10 years.

Read a lot, Network and find a Mentor
Noted that one should read a lot and do a lot of networking especially when one does not have a lot of resources or is in the idea conceptualization stages saying, “When you go to the bank talk to the manager and offer to buy lunch. When the time comes and you want a business loan you will not be talking to a bank manager but to a friend. Talk to accountants and lawyers and have lunch with them. It is like going to lunch with a doctor and saying your back hurts and you get some advice of what to do.” 

Plan your product to the widest scope
David noted that while developing the product and business one should not just target say Kenyans but should aim for the widest range of market in the region if in U.S.

Think Big, Get started and Don’t be afraid
Saying, "A big idea can get capital more easily than a small idea," he encouraged Kenyans to think big and get started with the plans and not be afraid of not succeeding. No person has ever succeeded in business who was afraid of failing.

Invest in Real Estate
For those looking to invest in Kenya, the opportunity he advised to explore was Real Estate. He noted that real estate has made the most millions of wealth for investors and business people than any other field. 

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