My name is Rodrigue Fouafou. (Pronounced Rod-reeg Foo-wa-foo — but you can call me Rod.) Being born into a poor family with 32 brothers and sisters (my father had six wives), dreams of being successful and traveling the world were the main focus of my childhood. I grew up in the tiny African city of Bafoussam, Cameroon. How else could a small boy from the Bamileke tribe of Bafoussam succeed in the expansive world of business without first dreaming big? In fact, every step I’ve taken from my infancy forward has been a step forward in business. I literally cannot remember a day in my life when business was not at the forefront of my thinking and ambitions.
Every child has dreams and, whether consciously or subconsciously, seeks a person to emulate and follow in footsteps. For me, my brother Emmanuel (who was living in California) was that person. My father died in 1991 at a young age and I, too, was young — only 12 years old — at his death. I was just at the age where the questions of a young boy begin formulating into manhood. My brother Emmanuel, the first of the family to venture out of Cameroon, quickly stepped in to guide me. He paid my way through school and took a serious interest in my future. His love and guidance has helped develop my stature as a person of high integrity, moral standing, and determination.
I’ve often been told my name is a very memorable one — and I agree. My last name, Fouafou, means “king of village Bafoussam.” Foua means “king“ and Fou means “Bafoussam.” Rodrigue, a form of Rodrigo, means “famous, powerful ruler.” The meaning of one’s name is of great importance to those in Cameroon’s Bamileke tribe.
Every business needs a strong decision maker in the forefront, fearless of trial and determined to succeed. “Rodrigue Fouafou,” is, as you see, synonymous with success.
I embraced this story behind my name when I took my first leap as an entrepreneur. I had already started my career as a software engineer, after graduating with honours from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Engineering. I’d had a few successful years working at IBM and Nortel, also.
Then I met my first business partner. What came from the commingling of our minds, with extremely long hours of hard work, were Gourmandia.com and Vertamin, Inc. For three years we programmed, wrote, built, ate, and breathed Gourmandia and Vertamin. There was time for nothing but building business. As partner, design engineer, and computer engineer, I invested heartfelt devotion to the success of these businesses, which explore and reveal the masterminds behind premium video cooking recipes. To give an idea of our success, in less than 4 years we became, according to The New Yorker, #4 worldwide in the food vertical.
Currently, I am the CEO of HartNamtemah, Inc. – an investment and consulting firm I co-founded with a long-time Canadian friend (and genius), Marc Andre Hart. We specialize in mentoring and investing in African startups. We also work with investors interested in funding business ventures in other emerging markets around the world.
I am a great believer in Africa. It is on the cusp of a major global economic boom and I am excited to be at the frontline of the African startup revolution. I strive to uncover remarkable business and investment opportunities in Africa and foster the growth and success of innovative African startups. Some noteworthy startups we have funded and mentored include Njorku, a Cameroon-based job search engine and aggregator for African job seekers, and Kiro’o Games, an up-and-coming video game studio in Cameroon.
I have been blessed with well-rounded success; consequently, it is an honor to help others attain their goals in business. I also tutor those who are less fortunate, offer seminars, mentor all whom I am able, and help others obtain high school degrees.
I’ve been in the internet business since its inception. Like many others, I am an undying fan of Steve Jobs. Were it not for him (and others like him), I might never have had the chance to explore and create, as I do today. I might never have had the chance to leave Bafoussam to achieve my personal dreams, to learn from many a mistake (mine and others) and many a brilliant idea (mine and others).
I am impelled forward over the obstacles and humps of life — and business. Business, like life, is a set of dual challenges, of right moves or wrong moves, fear or boldness, determination or weakness, of getting up when you fall or staying down and wincing. Challenges procure success. Success cannot be had without challenges.
I relish challenge. There is the saying that “every problem has a solution.” To great minds, problems call for daring to face and achieve, not to run and hide under the covers in fear. I believe every challenge has a positive resolution. The decision to be firm and bold is just that, an exact decision. Decision instigates action. Action instigates forward motion. Forward motion instigates progression. Progression instigates success.
The whole of my experiences are the oils that keep the wheels turning, especially if the problem is business being stuck in the mud. I am the board under the tire that boosts your revving power to excel forward out of the mud. I am the stable and secure ground business needs to foster continual progression forward, thereby stabilizing the lengthy travel.
Seeking out and finding new business opportunities is exciting. Being young, aggressive and ambitious are in my favor. I’m in the very fortunate position of meeting with some great business minds and instigating and building new business opportunities. For me, the thrill of entrepreneurship is finding new, creative ways to make money and know the game was played fair — then spreading that knowledge, fairness, and achievement to others. Helping people is important to me and guides everything I do. I am grateful to be in the position to aid fledgling entrepreneurs and serve as a mentor.
Business. It is why I get up in the morning. (Well, that and a breakfast smoothie.) Business — my ultimate addiction. From Bafoussam to Toronto, from developing businesses and relationships to teaching others how also to succeed
The items in the tilted container are either laid out in a column or in a row. For some directions we need to adjust the animation delays for the items, since we don’t want the items to overlap each other when they move in or out.
Ottawa, Canada Area
MTI Global Services is a global technology services company that develops customizable service plans to help organizations maximize their technology investments. At MTI Global Services, I provide retail merchandising technical consulting for clients like Apple.
VC4Africa is the largest online community for entrepreneurs and investors dedicated to building game-changing companies in Africa. The site provides members with access to free online tools, mentorship opportunities, and private deal rooms. As a mentor at VC4Africa, I advise African startups and provide them with strategic guidance.
Mobile Knowledge, Inc. engages in the development and supply of wireless location tracking and related control and dispatch center software, hardware, and integrated systems and services worldwide. I began my tenure with Mobile Knowledge in 2007 as a software developer. I developed, built, and tested software according to customer needs. Some of my assignments included building and testing dispatch system software according to customer specifications using Visual Basic and SQL while organizing and maintaining records of software configuration management. I also provided Level 2 technical support.
Ottawa, Canada Area
Vertamin, Inc. is a food-centric online publishing company that I co-founded. The largest website in the Vertamin network is the cooking and recipe website, Gourmandia.com. I served as Vertamin’s chief operating officer and member of the board. My responsibilities included leading product and business development, helping manage the company’s finances, orchestrating media sales efforts and advertising campaigns, and overseeing human resources and outsourcing initiatives. In the 4.5 years that I was at Vertamin, Gourmandia.com went from attracting 0.5 million to over 9.7 million unique visitors per month and became the fourth most popular online food website worldwide. During my time at Vertamin, I also spearheaded the creation of 45+ websites, helped the company generate over $3 million in revenue in 2012, and launched revenue-generating partnerships with major advertising networks like Glam Media, Conversant, Rogers, YuMe, Adapt TV, Yahoo, Microsoft Media, 24/7 Real Media, and the Guardian.
Ottawa, Canada Area
Nortel Networks was a recognized leader in delivering communications capabilities. Ciena acquired Nortel Metro Ethernet Works (MEN), a division of Nortel Networks, in 2010. Nortel developed next-generation technologies for both service provider and enterprise networks to support multimedia and business-critical applications. As a software designer at Nortel MEN, I was responsible for designing and implementing Nortel’s 100G optical network solution using C and C++. I also performed testing, following the software feature/application design process. In order to build my product knowledge, I participated in design reviews and code inspections.
Ottawa, Canada Area
I am the co-founder of HartNamtemah, a startup investment and mentoring firm that specializes in working with startups in Africa and other emerging markets. As HartNamtemah’s CEO and President, I provide the firm with strategic direction and work to uncover promising startups and investment opportunities. In addition, I mentor young entrepreneurs in Africa and help them obtain funding to bring their ideas to market.
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