‘The First 10 People You Hire Will Determine the Future of Your Company’- Bolt Founder Marcus Villig


Story story…, not quite.

Some days back in a hub in Kenya, a 26-year-old billionaire joined a group of tech developers in a fireside chat to give them insights from his own journey of building one of the most popular transportation companies in the world.

The billionaire was Marcus Villig and he is the Founder of ride-hailing startup, Bolt, which was formerly known as Taxify.

The chat took place after the COVID-19 had attached a considerable risk to travelling, however, sharing his story and keeping the vision of the Bolt company vivid to more people must have been worth the risk for Villig to travel down.

According to him, he started Bolt at the age of 19 and decided not to look for older people with experience but younger people that could be taught.

“We realized that we’d rather find people who are young and ready to learn than look for those with experiences,” Marcus Villig said.

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The choice of who gets to work with a startup at the early stages is very much a determinant in the eventual success or failure of the company. From Villig’s own experience, the first ten employees of a company will either make or mar it.

“The 1st ten people you hire will determine the future of the company”

Marcus Villig

Villig had personal sessions with some startups before the fireside chat that was moderated by CcHub’s Founder, Bosun Tijani. Speaking to some of them about services that had the potential of breaking the market, he advised that startups should make sure that whatever software products they developed checked these two boxes.

The first is that they must be affordable while the second box is that the product must solve a local problem. This way, the product is more relatable to the target audience and has more chances of being the first choice because of its affordability.

“The future is tech-based, affordable and local. Bolt looks at building partnerships with drivers, authorities and customers. For you to succeed, look within for problems that generate a commercial opportunity,”

Marcus Viligm, Founder of Bolt

On funding and expensive campaigns

From Villig’s experience of building a giant ride-hailing startup from scratch, he is of the opinion that startups should keep sourcing for funds simple.

He advised that funding at this early stage should be sourced from immediate families and that budgets must be kept low. He advised against running expensive campaigns because the results could be misleading for a startup.

'The First 10 People You Hire Will Determine the Future of Your Company'- Bolt Founder Marcus Villig
Marcus Vilig during the Fireside Chat in iHub

In his opinion, the startups should concentrate more on developing products that brought value to customers instead of investing in expensive campaigns that could drive uptake but would not keep the customers for long if there was no valuable service for the customers.

His viewpoint is that startups should focus more on offering valuable services that are accessible and convenient to the customer.

He said that as a company, there are certain things that can be localized and certain things that can be universally applied. Some of what can be localized include payments for the startup’s services and security.

Villig is a believer in collaborating to deliver a better product and experience to customers. He shared his strategy for the Kenyan market which was to develop partnerships with other businesses that enhance the safety of riders and drivers. In so doing, one of the targets is also to give better commission to Bold riders who are about 25,000 in Kenya.

Business chats in a semi-formal atmosphere such as the Fireside chat with Marcus Villig at iHub are valuable in many ways. Thanks to the Bolt team in Kenya and iHub, tech developers can pick two or three useful guidelines from Villig’s story on the journey to Bolt.

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