Alumni Speak March 2016: Growing a Business Internationally

MEAC_AlumniSpeak_Headers2_March
Jun 24 2016

Alumni Speak March 2016: Growing a Business Internationally

March

Speakers: Kobe Okrah, Orogone BD

(Absent)    Sandel Forbes, Exotic Hair products

Kobe Okrah

Brief Bio:

Kobe Okrah hailing from Ghana, West Africa has become very successful as a full-time entrepreneur after graduating from the illustrious Morgan State University in 2005. Orgone BD, was founded by Kobe and serves primarily as a project management company that develops products, services and projects centered around energy. Before his success as an entrepreneur, Kobe’s experience started at BGE, First Energy, Exelon, and even consulting nationally. Kobe’s inspiration to start his own company was ignited from visiting his home country while on travel for work and he was able to witness the lack of electric infrastructure in Ghana. This lack of infrastructure then sparked curiosity; he wanted to take measures into his own hands. Nonetheless, Orogone BD was established in 2010.

Industry: Growing a business internationally, Energy

Key Points:

    • Morgan State University Class of 2005; Electrical and Computer Engineering Degree
    • Post graduation job history
      • BGE, First Energy, International consulting
    • Originally from Ghana, moved to US in 2001 to attend college
    • His expertise is in the energy space, primarily in electric utilities (the energy/electricity used to power homes)
    • Main point: To focus on market expansion into foreign countries and specifically in Ghana and West African countries.
    • Wishes to expand his business back home to Ghana to build electric infrastructure
      • Witnessed Ghana’s infrastructure while on travel for work, a work project grew into a long term personal project for himself that grew into inspiration to start a business
      • The lack of electrical infrastructure inspired Okrah to start his business
      • Wanted to make Ghana an ideal place for investors to build power plants and energy infrastructures
    • Orogone BD was established in 2010
    • Built a system model that displayed natural gas availability, pricing available resources and a projected timeline over the next 5-10 years
    • Received “Export Maryland’ 5,000 grant from Maryland Department of Commerce
      • Very lengthy process; Orogone BD applied in 2012 and did not win grant until 2015.
      • Plenty other resources in Maryland for aspiring small business owners
      • Solar power subsidies
    • Currently working on a portfolio project; that reflects the 7 different phases of the life cycle
      • Solar, Hydro, Gas, Water, Wind…
      • Projects allow him to show expertise “Shows that the project was meaningful”
    • Has installed 20 solar panels on various properties in Ghana, anticipates installing 3 more (Supplies enough energy for 10 houses) “Position a project for the common good of all people” “Transparency is key” “Our value is really understanding the energy space”
    • His executive board consists of individuals he has worked for/with before.
  • “People in other countries may find you more appealing/attractive than people in your own hometown”
      • Basically he uses Ghana as a prototype/precedent for what he wants to implement in neighboring countries.“Ghana is a launching pad…it is easier because we’re from there”
      • Wants to teach Ghanaian engineers what they do at Orogone BD and how they run their business so that one day they can do the same and have the knowledge to maintenance the systems already in place. This builds core capability; Orogone BD has a corporate social responsibility to help Ghanaians.
    • Technology’s Role at Orogone BD:
      • Complex system power flows, system stability, electromagnetics
      • Microsoft Excel is vital.
        • Allows company to produce financial models and shows future cash flows
      • Microsoft Powerpoint
      • Project Management platforms
        • Helps produce deliverables, schedules etc.
      • The most important are the communication tools:
        • Email: allows seamless international communication
        • Viber, WhatsUp App, Facebook
  • “The people are the most complicated part of business”
  • “The more mistakes you make, the luckier you become”
  • “You don’t need to be an engineer to do what I do”
  • Favorite Professor:
    • Dr. Corey Diggins (MBA Program)
      • Helped Kobe pull back from engineering and focused more on the business aspect (the people, managerial perspectives, finances)
  • Advice for the viewers:
    • Focus on one speciality of business or your core capability/functional capability and enhance that skill. That skill will be beneficial to any business or starting a business of your own.
  • When growing a business internationally, you have to physically go to the country for at least 2 weeks to really scope and plan feasibility
    • Find local partnerships; find them by spending time at that foreign country “You have to put in the time”

Tweetable Quotes:

    • “Position a project for the common good of all people”  (Tweet This)
    • “Transparency is key” (Tweet This)
    • “Our value is really understanding the energy space” (Tweet This)
  • “People in other countries may find you more appealing/attractive than people in your own hometown” (Tweet This)
    • “Ghana is a launching pad…it is easier because we’re from there” (Tweet This)
  • “The people are the most complicated part of business” (Tweet This)
  • “The more mistakes you make, the luckier you become” (Tweet This)
  • “You don’t need to be an engineer to do what I do” (Tweet This)

Contact Info:

Twitter: @Koby.Okrah

Website: www.orgonebd.com

Email: kwabena.okrah@orgonebd.com