Often, startup stories focus more on the product and company than they do the people that made them possible. We at The Startup Collaborative have found that our mission statement to allow everyone an unbiased investment thesis to building their own tech-centric company allows us to step aside and let the entrepreneurs be center stage. The Behind the Founder campaign is meant to do just that —  let the stories of those who call themselves TSC Fellows be told from their own perspective.

What’s your name?

Tinashe “Nash” Mahupete

Where are you from?

Zimbabwe

How did your upbringing influence you today?

My parents grew up in racially segregated, colonial Zimbabwe. I was born after Independence and my parents who had lived in a society that saw them as 3rd class citizens raised me to believe that I am no better than anyone…or less than any other person. My parents treated everyone with kindness and respect. They also taught me the definition of success: Being pleased at the end of the day that I have applied myself to the best of my abilities with a positive attitude. 

Two things were important to my parents: That we never went to bed hungry (in an environment where for others, this was not guaranteed), and the second was that there was always “Love” in our home. 

I carry all those experiences with me today. 

Whether you’ve met them or not, who is one REAL person that has influenced you?

Nelson Mandela: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” 

He was unjustly thrown in prison for almost three decades for having a dream of equality. When he was finally released, his Dream had not vanished. If anything it had become more intense. He did not hate those that had taken his freedom away, instead, he showed them compassion (Not sure I could do that). He didn’t waste his energy on emotions towards the oppressors. He kept his emotions focused on his compelling Vision for a free and equal South Africa. 

Madiba taught me that to attain your Dream, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination”

Who is one FICTIONAL character that has inspired your life/career and why?

Not sure if I have been inspired by fiction much. One of the characters I liked are from a book, “Matigari” I read when I was 14 years old. It is by Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o. 

The character, “Matigari” is a freedom fighter who returns from the wilderness after laying his weapons aside at the end of the wars of independence in his country. He returns to find the government changed but the status quo preserved. The book is written as a part allegory, part parable and part fairy tale. The author gives the reader no firm grasp on chronology or the boundaries between the magical and the real. What emerges is a moving surrealistic tribute to the spirit of independence and the challenges facing newly independent nations like my own, Zimbabwe. 

From a sketch on a napkin to officially starting up, what triggered the inception of your company?

My experiences at my job, QLI where I started almost two decades ago is the reason for my company. I was fortunate to join a company that views and treats team members as vital and integral to the success of the mission. QLI is heavily invested in people’s development at work, and also in their lives. Organizations deserve hardworking and loyal team members. Team members deserve companies invested in them. Dream Catcher helps solve that problem. This leads to succession planning, a great pain point for the majority of businesses. 

How did the founding team meet?

Network introductions

Within The Startup Collaborative, what level was the most challenging for you, your company and why?

Messaging. Truly differentiating Dream Catcher and focusing on the problem I am solving. 

Within The Startup Collaborative, what level has been the most rewarding for you, your company and why?

All have been very helpful. However, every step of validation has been vital. Validation not only helped me to get to the crux of the issues but helped me get to know who my customers are while also building an early relationship with them. 

Presently, what does a typical day look like for you and your company?

Constantly working to launch. I have a book I have written tied to the concept I am building through the Startup Collaborative. Currently, increasing book sales has been a focus. 

I am also managing the team working on building the platform and continuing with the testing process. Raising funds has been critical as I am boot-strapping.  

What’s next for you and your company?

Launch the software to the early adopters and focus on getting Dream Catcher to other organizations so that they can enjoy the bliss of coaching for Succession Planning.

See? Everyone Can Startup!