The beauty of biographies and autobiographies, is that they show us relatable stories and teach us life’s lessons in its crudest form. They also sometimes nudge us in the right direction to our goals, or downright save us from making a whole lot of typical mistakes. Tested by Alpesh Patel, is one that ticks all these boxes. Believe me; after reading the final line of this piece, I dropped it and got lost in thoughts. In 332 pages, the author takes us on a fast-paced entrepreneurial journey of highs and lows. We travel through time and space with him, feel the closest we can to his emotions, and struggle through the many tests of life and the ‘system’.
“I was born rich. I want to get that straight from the start. This is not a rags to riches story. I was born in Uganda 1966 in the midst of poverty but my family was by no means poor.”
One day, part of the richest families; the other, a refugee looking for a home. Born into an Indian family, somewhere in the bushes of Uganda, the circumstance surrounding his birth was the first sign that ‘normal’ wasn’t going to fly with him. When the Idi Amin reign kicked his family and some others out of their homes with only a few items, survival was the goal. All these things shaped him to becoming a hustler early in life. By the time he was pursuing his first degree, he was already travelling to different countries to buy knock-off designer items to sell to his university mates.
He made his first million after a few hustles at age 23 from trading mobile phones, and then lost all of it almost immediately. He went ahead into the business of selling designer ‘kitchens’, delved into the entertainment industry by promoting clubs, and even started managing a group of R&B artists. He tried his hands on one business to another in real time. He eventually attained the height of enviable success as a top dog, building the Motorola brand. Life was great.
After all these things, the real tests came when he decided to focus on one business and build his own mobile brand – Mi Fone. He created the first African mobile device brand, and actually created the first black emoticons – believe it. From South Africa to Dubai and Hong Kong; he took us on a journey through countries and through various ways of thinking. All of these things added or contributed to his hustle and the many tests he had to face climbing up or sliding down.
His journey is fast-paced and exhilarating. Most importantly, it exposes us to certain issues that plague us as Africans – in a very painful way. Even after a few years of success and beating all odds, he still could not escape from the limiting factor that is the African system. Even after scoring a business session with 50 cent, starting a phone campaign around Barack Obama, launching a credit card for Africans with Visa, MasterCard and Western Union; he still struggled to stand on his feet because the system would just rather support you if you were foreign or you could cut corners – amongst other reasons, of course. The lack of trust in the continent even made it hard for your own people to be on your side or believe in you. These limitations, however, are the very things that make conquest even sweeter.
This book is one of a kind. It didn’t come clean and put-together as a typical autobiography would. Rather, it showed you reality as it was even for the strongest and wittiest. This is not forgetting that it is loaded with actual life lessons. The entrepreneurial mistakes made and the torrent of issues lined up in this book, makes this story one to reckon with. I recommend this book for every individual with a knack for entrepreneurship. If you’re African, it’s certainly a must read.
I rate it a 4.5 out of 5. You can give it your own rating below.
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About the Author
Alpesh H. Patel is an award winning Global Entrepreneur and has been featured in more than 50 media outlets including CNN, CNBC, BBC, Forbes,GQ and Huffington Post. Alpesh runs Peshmode Ltd a UK based Advisory and Business Consultancy specialising in Go to Market Strategies, Entrepreneurship, Intrapreneurship and Results orientated Sales solutions. He has been dubbed as one of the first Tech Innovators to come out of emerging markets and has worked with industry giants such as Visa, Vodafone, Western Union and Uber. Source: Tested by Alpesh Patel