By Tony Kwame Ansah, Jr
On July 19th of 2019, I (Tony Kwame Ansah, Jr or T.A.) had the pleasure of interviewing Luvuyo Ndiki (L.N.). A South African young man who is the C.E.O. responsible for the 1st 3D biodegradable cup printer (Red Cup Village) in his country. He is the former Chief Creative Director of Cash hop XVI that provides world-class commercial production services via audio & video for leading global brands. The purpose of our conversation was to talk about his personal development as an entrepreneur. Although there’s a saying “to not mix business with pleasure,” our persona influences risk we take as humans, especially for those willing to use 3D printing to manufacture drinking cups that are made from sugarcane and cornstarch like Luvuyo Ndiki.
Without any further or due, the following written content is the full interview. Read now and be inspired!
T.A.: What would you do without getting anything in return for it, such as money?
L.N.: I’ve always been a person that looks at ways to change lives and tries to bring people together. Projects that are about informing people and bringing people together has always been my passion without any money. Through passion, you always find ways to survive. When I started my brand, I started without getting paid. It was only after 5 to 6 years that I really started to see the cash flow and the business growing. The first 5 years was about doing things that brings people together.
T.A.: What gives you tremendous joy in life?
L.N.: One thing that I really enjoy is spending time with family, especially with my kid. I really enjoy spending time with my son and teaching him stuff about life. And, being a dad and a friend for him. I also enjoy creating things and being a person who creates new innovative stuff.
T.A.: What is something you would do every day if you could or something you can’t survive without doing it every day?
L.N.: I can’t survive without my brand. That’s what keeps me going. That’s what gives me energy to push. I always want to do something towards my brand and projects to build globally. I often meditate on ideas for the brand.
T.A.: What is your story for brand?
L.N.: Ok, let me just give you a background story about me. So that you can understand the whole process that let up to the start of my brand. I went to the Cape Town University of Technology in South Africa. I wanted to study interior design in Cape Town. But I didn’t take any subjects that were in design back in high school. Therefore, I had to do foundation, a 1-year course to study all the disciplines of design from architecture, fashion, surface design, product design (3D), jewelry design and interior design. I had to pass everything with at least 65%. Then, I had to get at least 75% for the course I really wanted to pursue. There was a lot of pressure because I had to pass everything. At the end of the day, I did well in product design and its 3D side. I decided to go into 3D. I was the only black guy in my class taking this course. I studied and pushed hard. But I had a problem with one lecturer who told me that people like me are not supposed to be in this type of course. I saw this with my marks because everything I designed was better than other people in my class. However, it would still get marked down because of my race. It created this energy in me to not accept it. I was reporting it to superiors, but nobody was doing anything. I ended up going to the student representatives and they also didn’t do anything. After years of fighting for this, I ended up becoming part the student representatives.
I was faced with other challenges. The biggest challenges that came to me was the difference between white and black South Africans and colored people of mixed race. Every time you do an event certain people would come, certain races would come, and people didn’t want to mix with each other. This is a major problem. People in society not being able to mix. I started doing events to bring people together. One thing that I picked up was in America everyone liked red cups. A few weeks before my final exam in my second year of the Public Relations diploma course, I wanted to start something and find ways to make money and bring people together. I started doing the cup business for events. People began to have conversations with each other through this one cup. Everyone was uniform through this one cup. It created this brand of bringing different races together. This was before the 3D printing of these cups.
The brand story was inspired by a story my grandmother told me about what happened during the 13th Century where an Africa lady united two rival village tribe kings by inviting them to a gathering where she made them drink from the same wooden cup. Without realizing it, the two kings started sharing the same cup, which made them share their cultures, visions, beliefs and created unity in the village. Due to South Africa’s racial historic past, we want to create a brand which seeks to bring people of all cultures together through one cup, one lifestyle & one love.
That was where and how the brand came about.
T.A.: What is your special gift or talent that people compliment you on?
L.N.: People that know me for a long time always see me as a hustler and a businessman. I always find a way to create trendy topics and always find a way to get people to talk about it. Everything that I touch and do will always have something good that comes out of it. People see me as someone who has so much knowledge and as someone with great potential. Some people come to me for business advice and know that I’ll always give them some advice and direct them in the right direction. People see me as someone that they can get relevant information from. Other people come to me because I have connections with big stars and musicians. I’m basically a bank for people to meet other people.
T.A.: What’s 1 strength and 1 weakness that you have?
L.N.: My weakness is not giving time for myself to be a normal person and have fun. Most of the time I just want to work and work. I’m blessed to have knowledge of different ways of thinking. I’ve never boxed myself as an individual that does not know anything. I’m the kind of person that in any room I enter I’ll always be the quietest. But once I’m given the opportunity to speak, that is when people realize who I am and what I am capable of. I always want my work to speak for itself.
T.A.: What is 1 future goal or 1 upcoming goal that you have right now?
L.N.: Right now, my future goal is about being visible around the world. I’m shooting a documentary about my whole lifestyle, how I print my product, how I sell my product, and how I do my business. I’m looking to do some global PR for it. There’s a whole campaign that I’m pushing the next 2 months. Then, there’s this festival next year that focuses on biodegradable products. I’m looking at doing a music festival around arts and crafts. Everything that we do in terms of packaging will be biodegradable. We’ll also have 3D printing and the latest technology that has some sort of biodegradable element. This is to create an awareness about the whole movement of people conscious on what they buy.
T.A.: What are your action plans to make these goals possible?
L.N.: I’m working with a group of people. I direct the whole project. There’s a whole team behind it. My biggest target as an individual is to focus on selling the product. I manage a group of people who manage others. We have a whole campaign to promote for the next 7 months. This allows us time to attract bigger brands and to create projects that generate revenue on an annual basis.
T.A.: Do you believe in accountability?
L.N.: Yes, especially when working with people. As a leader, if you don’t show accountability to yourself, then people are not going to give that same accountability in return. It’s always important for me to account for something, whether my son, my spouse, and anyone I work with. Recently, I was granted some funding, which I always make sure to account for. My reports are done on time. Accountability is very crucial and goes along with integrity and trust as well.
T.A.: How will you assess your progress?
L.N.: For me, I always go out and speak to random people and ask them random questions. I do my own market research before a project or after a project. I share with close friends and strangers. I also check on feedback and investigate it. I always try to find ways to listen to every type of feedback and try to analyze them. I may not agree with it, but I like listening a lot. People’s view might be different, but you might pick up one thing that someone will say for the next idea.
It was great having a conversation with you brother. Until we speak again, stay blessed, stay strong, peace be unto you, later. Watch out for a potential podcast interview with Luvuyo Ndiki in 2019.
Connect with Luvuyo here:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony K Ansah, Jr., M.P.A. is a self-published author and a social entrepreneur based in Rhode Island, U.S.A. He has written and published several books and content via poems, quotes, fiction, non-fiction, blogs and articles. Tony is also the founder and owner of Ansah Africa, a consulting and marketing startup that connects donors in the U.S.A. with nonprofits in Africa to solve global problems, which was established in 2017.
Copyright © 2019 by Tony Kwame Ansah Jr
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