We had the good fortune of connecting with Kenneth Akiri and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kenneth, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and departed for the United States at the age of 20, A few years earlier, I was kidnapped and tortured by Nigerian hoodlums when I was 18. A ransom letter and my father’s ability to pay to set me free, caused me to have a life-changing aha moment, that moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, and comprehension. From this moment forward, I had a decided heart. A mindset that would mold and fashion everything I would ever do in my life. “The buck stops here!”, I thought to myself. The buck stops here. I accepted responsibility for my past actions. I became responsible for my success. I realized that I was where I was—mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially—because of decisions I had made. The trauma caused me to see how my decisions had always been governed by my thinking. So from that moment forward, I began the process of changing where I lived—mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially—by changing the way I think. It was this moment I realized a life-changing law of success: “You don’t attract what you want, you attract who you are!”
So armed with this mindset, life in the United States was quite different from what I experienced growing up in Lagos. I arrived with a witty vision-driven attitude of success. My bridge of incidence, which connected me from where I was at that time to my realized goals, was filled with failures, rejection, hardship, multiple jobs, hard work, just to name a few but that didn’t stop me. I was focused on the end of “my movie”. So in my third year while attending University of Houston, I started my first business, CompuSolutionX in November 2002.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
How? Be vision-driven, work backwards and fill the gaps. Over the years, I founded several companies like CompuSolutionX, Creative Skunks, Peacefully Easy, MasterBlocks, and Hindclaw. Let’s just say I’m a vision-driven technologist at heart. Everything I’ve been a part of started with a vision of a successful venture, and then from there, I’d “work backwards”.
CompuSolutionX is a full-service managed IT services provider and consulting company. This working backward mindset is how the name of the business was formed. CompuSolutionX was derived from “excellent solutions for your computing needs”. Prior to when the company was formed, I noticed a gap in the IT industry. Large companies had a thriving IT departments but small to medium enterprises (SMEs) didn’t have the luxury of having an IT department to manage their technology infrastructure. I had envisioned a service-rich IT consulting company that would provide end-to-end IT services to small to medium companies in Houston and contiguous cities, affording then the benefits that all large businesses enjoyed for a fraction of the cost.
Was it easy? No!
Well, even though I had a solid vision of what I wanted out of the company, I met a lot of obstacles along my bridge of incidence. For instance, keeping up with the ever-changing world of technology, maintaining my unparalleled reputation for great customer experiences, developing growth strategies and applying them, and finally learning how to balance my business and family life.
-1 Know yourself & Grow: Albert Einstein once said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Henry Ford said, “Anyone who stops learning is old. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” And my message is that you can’t grow a business past your own personal growth. Remember what I stated earlier, you don’t attract what you want, you attract who you are. Many want success in business, one immune to the shifting socio-economic and political changes. Many want fame and fortune but fail to realize that none of that comes to fruition until you mentally become whatever it is you want. And this only happens when your learn and grow.
2- Apply, apply, & apply: There’s a riddle I love sharing when I speak publicly. It’s called The Five Frogs. There are five frogs on a log of wood next to a pond. Three decided to jump into the pond. How many frogs remained on the log of wood? Most will say two but the correct answer is five! Why? None of the frogs actually jumped. A decision is very different from an action. In business, you must act. I envisioned different growth hacks for my business and knew I had to apply them and this is one of the things I’m most proud of! What is growth hacking? Growth hacking (also known as ‘growth marketing’) is the use of resource-light and cost-effective digital marketing tactics to help grow and retain an active user base, sell products and gain exposure.
Today, CompuSolutionX is a National and International brand, serving over 2500 clients from Houston to Mexico to companies in Africa. And with the help of artificial intelligence, we’ve been to increase our business reach without increasing the business overhead. I’m very excited about the next phase for our brand.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’d definitely hope the visit happens during basketball season because I’m a basketball fan! We’d start off having dinner at my favorite restaurant, Avesta Persian Grill, where my very good friend, Chef Zaffar Idibekovich’s food would leave a memory worth writing home about. Next, we’d plan a trip to the Toyota Center to watch a Rockets game while enjoying the iconic views of Downtown Houston. Of course, breakfast is always at First Watch where we’d start off with a nice cold glass of kale tonic. At some point, we’d take a trip to Galveston just because, and definitely hit a must-try BBQ spots like Harlem Road Barbecue in Richmond, Texas.
Since I’m super adventurous, we may go skydiving at Skydive Spaceland Houston, where I overcame my fear of heights, and definitely unwind with a drink or two at Bissou in the River Oaks Distrct, a CompuSolutionX client.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to thank Hank Carr, one of the first people I met when I came to the States in 1997. He awoken so much that was sleeping within me by being a great friend and a mentor. He suggested many life-changing books that I still apply in my life today. Books like The Science of Getting Rich by Wattles Wallace; The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel; Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason.
I also want to thank Farida Wells of JH Quality Construction Services. While attending University of Houston, she was a regular customer at Office Depot where I worked for three years. Her company became my very first client 19 years ago, and still is till this very day!