I viewed ODNC as an opportunity to upskill myself so that when I went looking for my next opportunity I would be more competitive with a larger set of skills and experiences.
Shiku Wangombe is an artist and designer, born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya. She was initially trained as an architect at USC and briefly worked at a venture studio based in Nairobi, before she launched her own design studio, Teleo Creative.
She joined ODNC with the goal of learning new skills that she could leverage to build her studio and expand her scope of work.
Why Shiku applied for the On Deck No Code Fellowship:
When I was initially thinking about ODNC, I was in a position in my life where I was just let go from my job due to Covid, and I was thinking about career transitions. I actually applied to both ODNC as well as the On Deck First 50 fellowship as I looked for what was next for me. I viewed ODNC as an opportunity to upskill myself so that when I went looking for my next opportunity I would be more competitive with a larger set of skills and experiences.
When I first considered taking the program, I discussed it with other people that I knew, and a lot of the feedback was that I should avoid it. The general quarrels I heard against it were that “the price tag is too high,” and “I’m not sure what you will get out of the program.”
Why did you decide to join the program despite initial doubts:
First, I thought that there was no harm in applying and that I would not lose anything from trying. If anything I would learn from the experience of self-reflection for the application, and from the interview process. I reasoned that most of the reasons I was getting against applying were speculative, and the interview process would give me an opportunity to get some clarity.
Second, after the interview process, I concluded that the program would be a great opportunity for me to upskill myself. Since I’d been let go from my previous job, I was looking at this as a chance to learn new tools that would either help me grow my own business, or make me more competitive if I chose to look for another role.
What Shiku got that was unexpected:
Friends. People that actually genuinely care about each other. Coming in I thought that this would be more like an academic program where we were going to be taught and lectured. Instead a lot of the learning was peer to peer, and that helped foster really great relationships.
I think that the 1:1 calls were the most transformational element of ODNC, it takes people from different backgrounds, no code OGs to no code newbies, and allows them to communicate and learn from each other. At first I was definitely “the student” in most situations but after long hours in Bubble I cultivated a level of confidence where I started to support other fellows.
What did you build during ODNC:
I built my Demo Day product ‘Pesa Note’ using Bubble. It’s a budgeting tool I created to solve a problem I had - a problem that I was sure other people from this part of the world must have too, which is accounting for mobile money expenses. At the time, I didn’t know of any budgeting tool that could help me do this, much less help automate the process of accounting for such expenses, which is the ultimate goal I have for the app.
How Shiku would describe the On Deck No Code Fellowship (ODNC):
The people are what make ODNC possible. There is such an eclectic mix of people from different geographies, industries, and ages among the fellows. This makes it such an incredible network to be a part of. In college, you get access to a similarly connected and incredible network that you grow alongside but it's mostly with people your own age and at the same stage of life as you. ODNC breaks those boundaries. Having such a diverse set of minds in one place creates an experience you cannot get anywhere else.
Advice for incoming fellows:
First, approach everything with a very open mind and with a mindset of being able to give more than you can get. Giving more than you get will actually lead you to gain a lot more in the long run, be it through the relationships you build, the experiences you get, or the things you learn.
Second, you can learn much more by teaching other people. I was able to clarify in my mind what I knew and where I had gaps in my knowledge when I helped someone else. Sometimes we can be blind to our own gaps, but we can also underestimate how much we can teach someone.
Finally, hype everyone up and view everything as positive-sum! I loved how during Demo Day when we were all presenting our projects, it felt more like a show-and-tell rather than a competition. No one in the community had a “win at all costs” mentality and you could see the support and hype in the Zoom chat and gratitude circle on the day of the event. Everyone showed up to support one another.
"They understand that organic and iterative connection is where the magic happens."
"By just putting yourself in an environment with a lot of other interesting people, good things tend to happen."