Karibu Kenya

When people ask me what keeps me up at night, two things come to mind. The first is quite literal. It’s the eerily familiar buzz of tiny, blood-sucking mosquitos that somehow manage to successfully hide themselves in my bed net…only to show themselves once my REM cycles have begun to take shape. Catching bed net mosquitos in the middle of the night is an arduous but necessary process, and I’ve become quite the ninja since I moved to Nairobi two weeks ago.

The other thought preventing my sleep is the massive disparities in healthcare outcomes and access that still exist throughout the developing world. It’s motivated me for over a decade to pursue a career in global health; it’s what has allowed me to travel the world, and it’s still what enables me to direct my education and experience towards a cause I care about. As a recent addition to Flare, I am quite grateful to find a both a team and a product that aligns with my personal beliefs so directly.

I first learned of Flare when finishing my MBA last Spring at MIT. I knew Caitlin, one of the founders, well; not surprisingly, there were not a ton of global heath professionals in our business school. What surprised me was not her impressive background at the Clinton Health Access Initiative, but rather her willingness to escape her comfort zone by taking on quant heavy classes and roles. While I stuck with the familiarity of storytelling at McKinsey, she made the masochistic decision to study finance and work in impact investments. I was impressed.

We both launched social enterprises during school, yet while I transitioned out of mine close to graduation, I could see Flare gaining attention. And why shouldn’t it? It was such a brilliantly simple idea, and truly resonated with competition judges, investors, professors and our classmates. She was creating on-demand emergency response for environments that already have the vehicles, but lack the infrastructure to centrally deploy them. I told myself that I shouldn’t see the enterprise as competition, rather as an opportunity.

Last summer, while working as an entrepreneurial mentor at start up incubators in Mexico and Algeria, I reached out to the team, humbly offering my help. Luckily for me, it happened to be a very exciting time for the company. The pilot was launching and the largest ambulance companies in Nairobi were already on board. I could be instrumental in helping oversee the pilot, as well shape the strategic direction of the company ☺

So here I am…first time living in Kenya. In less than two weeks, I have been blown away. What first hit me was the warmth and undeniable talent of other co-founder, Maria. She is the CTO, and manages the technical development of the prototype. She also is an artist and makes all of our marketing materials hit next level sexiness. Since landing, I’ve already met with ambulance dispatchers, African angel investors, and a myriad of other start ups looking to hit gold in Africa’s chaotic start up epicenter. It seems like an opportune time to be on the ground in Kenya, to try to make a difference, and to launch a product that has the potential to disrupt emergency response throughout Africa.

Rahul Kulkarni

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