Art & Design // ZoomIn On Kayee Au (InvestED)
Art is a creative activity that is either expressed through imagination or technical skill by an artist.
The main purpose of art is so that it can be admired and appreciated. As we celebrate Art and Design in the month of April, we decided to catch up with co-founder and chief creative officer of InvestED, Kayee Au; who combines both skills to tell meaningful stories that benefit the community.
InvestED is a mobile app that creates animated education to build better and more stable livelihoods for people.
Learn more about Kayee as a leading entrepreneur as we ZoomIn on her life and her use of art to positively impact communities worldwide.
Who is Kayee?
I am the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of InvestED app. I have a background in animation and using media to promote financial literacy and social change.
How has your life journey been? From where you were to where you are now?
I attended film school at the University of Southern California to study animation. It was there that I realised Hollywood was not for me because I wanted to take part in projects with greater social impact. Following graduation, I worked for a ministry in Arusha, where we created financial literacy comic books in partnership with World Vision and Vision Fund Tanzania. I then traveled around Italy making films with an international community. When I came back to California, I used my experience to co-found InvestED because I believe education and storytelling creates better opportunity.
At what point in your life did you realise that art was your calling?
I always knew I wanted to do something creative and impactful. As a child, when I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was always torn between wanting to be an artist so I could create cool art; or a doctor so I could save people. It’s been clear from the start that I needed a career focused on both artistic storytelling and social impact.
What’s the inspiration behind InvestEd?
The experience and knowledge I acquired prior to moving here inspired me to start a company to benefit people through storytelling and education. I partnered with my now co-founder to create InvestED two and a half years ago. The tech startup culture in Nairobi made it the perfect place for us to begin our journey.
Who would you say influenced you to pursue this career path?
Lord of the Rings is one inspiration because it blew my 10-year-old mind that Gollum was created through CG (laughs). I wanted to know how to use that creative magic to help society. Storytelling is a huge influence for me but I also care about people and I want to be able to use my skills to help make the world a better place.
As a creative, where does your inspiration come from?
Definitely from people. I’m a big people person in the sense that I think there is so much strength, resilience, and beauty built into every single person. I’m inspired by the depth of the individuals and communities I meet. The fact that every human, no matter who they are- carries a brokenness and also shares the same need for love and nurturing- that is something I want to share with the world.
If you weren’t a creative director, what would you be?
(Thinks) I don’t know! Honestly, being a creative director is what I love to do. I’m a visionary. I love creating art but just sitting there illustrating in the office every day- that would drain me! I enjoy the planning process and seeing just how far I can stretch myself and my team. If not a creative director, I’d want to do something that involves a creative process, visioning and social impact. It has to involve those three things.
What are some of the roles you carry out at InvestEd?
It involves a lot of illustration. I also help with the storytelling and directing our content. A lot of it is management, planning out day to day tasks of the team and talking to potential partners, businesses and investors as well.
What do you love most about your job?
Definitely the work we get to do. It doesn’t happen often, but I love being able to go out into the field and see the reactions of the people we get to impact through our projects. The city of Nairobi itself inspires me on a daily basis because it has an ever-changing, ever-evolving culture.
What keeps you motivated?
Other entrepreneurs; my friends. Sometimes talking to other people to get their perspectives and personal stories on entrepreneurship. Reading biographies as well. Going to the gym so I can shatter my personal glass ceilings.
What song would you say brings out your creative side?
I listen to different types of music. They range from African music to Latin music to rock, classical and house- amongst many others. I can’t really choose. It all depends on my mood.
Who is one entrepreneur who has been your greatest inspiration?
My current inspiration is Elon Musk because I’m reading his biography. It inspires me how he just thinks of crazy ideas like going to Mars, and that he literally doesn’t know how to take no for an answer- but he’s also really willing to work hard to get there. I think it helped that he didn’t have a conventional childhood and his entire life has been experimenting and innovating over and over again. I think that’s part of what made him as successful as he is today.
One piece of advice you’d give to budding entrepreneurs?
You should definitely have funds saved up because you’re about to go on a rocky journey. You have to make sure you are passionate about what you’re doing and constantly test your product/service it in the market you want to dive into. Also, you have to have tough skin as an entrepreneur.
Tell us one of the greatest business tips you’ve ever received?
Mine is more of an analogy that talks about the mental and psychological toll that being an entrepreneur takes on you. Entrepreneurship is like everyone seeing this guy on a lion and thinking how brave and smart he must be to get there. But meanwhile, the guy on the lion is thinking: “How did I get here? How do I not get eaten by this crazy beast?” That’s what running a startup is like- we just have to remember that we’re all faking it until we become it. Keeping this in mind gives us a chance to act more kindly towards one another.
Why did you choose to work from a coworking space? Specifically Nairobi Garage?
I love the creativity and social aspect of the space. I love meeting people here because they all have a great motive and cause that they are pursuing. Speaking as a creative, we need to separate home life from office life. The garage is one spot that helps us focus when it comes to our work.
Want to join a ready-built community of Nairobi’s most high-growth and high-impact ventures? Book a tour today!