A story is told of a young lad who loved music so much, it was his passion. While working, walking or just relaxing, he would always have a pair of headphones on, listening to his favorite tunes. In the spirit of loving music, the lad decided to make his way to Live at the Elephant (a live music venue located in the outskirts of Nairobi CBD), one afternoon. He spent about three hours there and after he got his fill of music, he made his way back to his apartment in Kilimani area in Nairobi. In a plot twist, the lad found that his house had been broken into and everything, including his computer, documents, electronics, furniture and his priced headphones had all been stolen.
Skipping all the unnecessary parts of this story, it was time for our lad to replace his headphones. He went to Nairobi’s CBD and started looking around. To his disappointment, he could not find anything that would suit him. The headphones he found were either too expensive or, to quote him, “too crappy”. “It was very hard to find something that I was happy about,” he says. Through this experience, Larry Liu (our lad in this story), decided to take a bold step and create headphones that would be affordable to the masses, while at the same time offering quality sound, thus Pace Africa.
Keep Your Own Pace
Pace, a name he settled on due to the attachment he has to it. Larry explains that “Keep your own pace” is his personal philosophy and he believes that everybody needs to find and keep their own pace. Larry says that he wanted to set up a brand that had energy to encourage everybody to keep their own pace, in addition to creating products that “looked cool and offered quality that was awesome at an affordable price”
Pace Africa was started in February 2017, and after a lot of market research and product development, the company’s first product, Pace Focus, a set of bluetooth headphones was launched on September 29. Larry explains that the product was named Focus, because the goal of the product was to assist its user in focusing on whatever they were doing. “We believe that Pace Focus is a beautiful product that people would appreciate, it’s all about creating value,” says Larry.
The team behind Pace Africa, consists of two teams, one in Kenya and one in China. The Kenyan team does all the heavy lifting, including designing the products, engineering the sound curve, marketing and sales while the China team consists only of the production chain managers. Larry says that if it was feasible, Pace would manufacture all its products locally but for now, they have to rely on China for this.
“It ‘s all about creating value”
At inception, Pace Africa formed partnerships that would enable it to attain its vision. One such partnership was with Music and Audio Producer, Jibril Blessing, popularly known as J.Blessing in the East African entertainment space. “Our industry is all about good sound, as an audio producer, I ended up buying expensive products just for the good sound. When I met Larry, I believed that the product was very ripe for the market, we partnered and here we are,” said J.Blessing.
Larry Liu and J.Blessing would work together to grow Pace Africa from just a startup aiming to make margins from headphone sales to a company that would make an impact in Kenya’s entertainment space. “We want to involve everyone because my experience in Music is not Larry’s experience,” explains J.Blessing. For this reason, Pace Africa is working with various people in the creative arts space; from students, to models, to artists, through a foundation that would see Pace Africa support a number of individuals nurture their talents.
From Kenya to the world
“In Africa, so many things start in Kenya,” says J. Blessing as he explains Pace Africa’s vision. Larry adds to this, saying that they are working towards building an international, fun company “where employees will enjoy working.”
In general, Pace Africa aims to become a world renowned company, with its foundation deeply rooted in Kenya. The vision? From Kenya, to the world.