Born in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, Nabyl Charania, Co-founder and CEO of Rokk3r Inc., moved to Canada as a teenager. He spent his early career in Europe and eventually ended up in Florida, where he worked as the Director of Engineering for a global company that acquired a technology venture he was a key part of. After his non-compete ended, he made his way to Miami and connected with several like-minded individuals to launch Rokk3r.
“I started Rokk3r with my partners almost a decade ago with the aim of combining deep entrepreneurial experience with specialized skills across industries and business functions focused on building and launching companies, and transforming industries,” Charania said. “From our vantage point, the world was severely lacking in innovation infrastructure, and we had a combination of world-class strategy, execution capabilities, deep knowledge of disruptive and exponential technologies, operations, distribution and business models, and the desire to create world changing ventures.”
When Charania and his partners launched Rokk3r, he was running a technology company that developed Cloud Application Programming Interface (API) implementations for small-to-medium sized businesses. In this role, he was able to see just how quickly technology was requiring businesses to adapt, and just how poorly organizations were prepared. It was clear to Charania that decision makers simply did not have the mindset nor the tools to prepare for the digital age – an insight two decades in the making.
“I can trace my personal desire for leading Rokk3r to the early 90s when Apple released a product called the Newton,” Charania said. “It looked like something out of Star Trek. The moment I saw that device, bolstered by my previous introduction to technology and an early understanding of seeing human potential in everyone, I knew immediately that the future had arrived, and I needed to be involved somehow in the transformation that technology could bring. This informed my education choices, which included completing a degree in Mathematics, and my professional aspirations, which centered on the world of technology and technology-driven entrepreneurship.”
Charania continued, “Through these life and professional experiences, I connected with partners who shared several key insights. Technology was impacting every industry and daily life worldwide in an unprecedented way, the entrepreneur’s experience was broken, billions of dollars were being wasted in company building inefficiencies, and so a new infrastructure would be required to serve entrepreneurs, investors and small, medium and large enterprises.”
According to Charania, Moore’s Law was something that was top of the partners minds at the time Rokk3r was founded. Increased computing power and the parallel reduction in cost had been sowing the seeds of a transformational change unlike anything the world had ever known. “Concurrently, increased access to internet connectivity meant that, in the bigger picture, economic outlooks globally were shifting as access was becoming available at unprecedented levels,” Charania said. “As such, Rokk3r was created to be an important part of the global innovation infrastructure that would propel humanity in the digital age.”
Every business, even those with exceptional leadership, a clearly defined value proposition and an unwavering vision of the future, is subject to challenges and obstacles. When Charania and his partners first launched Rokk3r, a monumental shift in traditional mindsets was required for stakeholders to fully comprehend and appreciate the changing world.
“Understandably, a majority of decision makers, from leaders of state to leaders in boardrooms, to entrepreneurs and investors, found it difficult to understand not simply that the world was changing as a result of technologies, but more importantly misunderstanding the sheer scope and breadth of this change,” Charania said. “Therefore, being able to articulate Rokk3r’s value proposition to empower and bolster innovation in a world of intersecting exponential technologies was difficult. However this difficulty subsided rather quickly as the realization of the digital age was thrusted upon every industry, across every value chain, and the importance Rokk3r’s value proposition became crystal clear.”
According to Charania, technology is an equalizer across the globe in a way no other tool has been in the history of humankind. Increased access and the proliferation of advanced technologies in industries not traditionally touched by technology, brings additional challenges and opportunities.
“Specifically, there is a democratization of global human potential that is occurring as a result of increased access to exponential technologies such as AI, robotics, and synthetic biology,” Charania said. “We live in a world where over 4.5 billion people are connected online, where in 2020 the world will be online the equivalent of a whopping 1.25 billion years cumulatively, where 8 billion minds will be connected online in less than 5 years, and uncertainty will surely become the norm, whether it’s economic instability, pandemics, or similar. As such, ongoing challenges are more common than stability.”
Charania continued, “At the macro level, it becomes important to identify the big challenges that impact industries and by default, the nature of the business. In Rokk3r’s case, it’s about determining what are the challenges constantly being brought upon an innovation infrastructure as a result of intersecting exponential technologies? And similarly, how does a fully connected human population shift the dynamics of entrepreneurship? We continue to develop strategies and solutions for these macro challenges by recognizing technology as the equalizer, the democratization of global human potential, and widespread access to the internet.”
When it comes to growth, Charania stresses the importance of an organization and individuals developing and maintaining a Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP). An MTP is like a mission statement, but with a much greater reason for existing beyond simply the main aim or objective.
“For Rokk3r, our MTP has been: ‘harness the global collective genius to co-build companies that change the world’,” Charania said. “This MTP influences every single part of the organization, and every person that touches the organization in whatever capacity. It’s been the driving force behind not simply just ‘growing’, but more importantly, understanding why we wanted to grow in the first place, and the building blocks required to achieve that growth. With this MTP as our North Star, we continued building an unparalleled idea-to-exit ecosystem and venture builder to serve as the world’s innovation infrastructure.”
Rokk3r’s MTP is a good starting point for defining their uniqueness as a business. Building from there, they’re an exceptional idea-to-exist ecosystem and venture builder. For example, their ecosystem includes Rokk3r Fuel ExO, a $200M venture fund that invests in exponential companies. In under a decade, Rokk3r has built over 50 companies worth over half a billion dollars, and has created a world class venture builder ecosystem that includes company building, micro-portfolios of exponential technologies and industry verticals, a launchpad for companies and services across the globe, and corporate innovation at the edge of organizations.
“Every value chain across every industry is, and will continue to be impacted,” Charania said. “New industries will form, new value chains will be created and new opportunities will be born. An infrastructure that recognizes the scope and breadth of change, and the human potential that exists across the world, is crucial to not simply surviving, but thriving during this time. Rokk3r provides this infrastructure.”
For Charania, having the opportunity on a daily basis to execute on a higher, aspirational purpose that is global in nature and exists at the intersection of human potential and exponential technologies is a dream come true. He thoroughly enjoys the responsibility of leading Rokk3r’s MTP. The outcome of this also includes connecting with some of the most driven and capable individuals in the world who are working to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.
Looking ahead, Charania’s future goals are, as you might expect, precise and purposeful. “Constantly reflecting on our MTP has allowed us to map an inspiring path for the future through Rokk3rX, our newly launched online innovation infrastructure platform that continues to meet the evolving needs of entrepreneurship, investment and venture building,” he said. “Rokk3rX enables entrepreneurs to participate in a risk mitigated approach to building and launching companies globally by bringing together idea validation, crowdsourcing, teams, expertise, investor access, all online. The future will see continued uncertainty. However, through our MTP, Rokk3r will continue to ensure that innovation can be empowered and leveraged to push society forward.”
What advice does Charania have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “The most important lesson I can share is that, aside from creating your business’s Massive Transformative Purpose, it is crucial that you also create your own personal MTP,” he said. “What is it that you really want to achieve both professionally and personally? No matter how hard you try, both of these are inseparable when it comes to entrepreneurship. Therefore it becomes vital for you to ensure you know what you’re working towards and why you’re doing it.
I’ll share my personal MTP: ‘create incorruptible prosperity and abundant ecosystems for all across the universe’. This is what guides me constantly no matter what business or personal circumstances I am facing, or will come up in the future. It helps me define what I want to leave behind as my legacy. It’s a purpose that’s bigger than me, and goes beyond what I want for myself, and instead, what I want to achieve for humankind.”
Charania added, “Another important lesson to always remember is that, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. Former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was famous for saying this. It’s a significant lesson, and also a good reminder of the importance of developing your own personal MTP so that you know your North Star whenever professional or personal challenges knock you off your feet.”