18 episodes

Launching a dating app in Vietnam.

Scaling a farm-tech business in Pakistan.

Building a one-of-a-kind, no-water toilet for refugee camps throughout Jordan.

Founders from emerging and frontier markets face unique challenges when starting and scaling their businesses.

These are their stories.

New episodes every other week.

Not From Silicon Valley David Zabinsky

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 44 Ratings

Launching a dating app in Vietnam.

Scaling a farm-tech business in Pakistan.

Building a one-of-a-kind, no-water toilet for refugee camps throughout Jordan.

Founders from emerging and frontier markets face unique challenges when starting and scaling their businesses.

These are their stories.

New episodes every other week.

    Navalayo Osembo - Creating the Kenyan Running Shoe (Enda)

    Navalayo Osembo - Creating the Kenyan Running Shoe (Enda)

    New York Marathon...Boston Marathon...London Marathon...Tokyo Marathon...you name it! 

    It seems every year, no matter the city, it’s a Kenyan runner bringing home first place.

    And that’s because, well…Kenyans are really, really good long distance runners. 

    And as we’ll hear in this episode, it’s because…yes…the high altitudes, but also because running is such a big part of the Kenyan social fabric.

    Running means something to do, it means employment, and it means, for some...an escape.

    And because of all this, we've seen some of the best runners on the planet come from Kenya…but the running shoes on their feet?

    Nike…Adidas…New Balance...?

    From Kenya? 

    Not so much.

    Which begs the question:

    If the world’s greatest runners come from Kenya…shouldn’t the world’s greatest running shoes come from Kenya, too?

    Well, to answer succinctly, there hasn’t really ever been a Kenyan running shoe to compete with the big names…

    Until now.

    Meet Enda, which launched on Kickstarter in 2016 as a 'Made in Kenya' running shoe.

    Enda, in Swahili? 

    It means 'go'…and in the past 3 years?

    Oh...it’s been 'go' all right...no better, it's been 'run' for Founder Navalayo Osembo-Ombati and Enda, seeing three digit growth and massive headlines ever since 2019.

    But to get here…to a point where Nava and Enda aren’t just making an awesome running shoe, but instead making Kenya proud?

    It hasn't been easy...

    It’s been, for lack of a better phrase:

    A grueling, and ever-impressive marathon.

    • 52 min
    Ahmad Yousry - Delivering Groceries in Cairo in Under 20 Minutes (Rabbit)

    Ahmad Yousry - Delivering Groceries in Cairo in Under 20 Minutes (Rabbit)

    All right.

    I know what you’re thinking.

    Another grocery delivery app?

    I mean...come on!

    DoorDash, Seamless, Instashop, Instacart, Talabat, Swiggy, UberEats, Delivery Hero…man...wherever you are in the world, chances are you can order your groceries from home, at the click of a button.

    But it’s not just the app store where we’re…drowning in grocery delivery options, right? Have you read through the TechCrunch lately?

    Ig’s a race…no, a full-out sprint amongst grocery delivery startup promising you your groceries in as little time as possible.

    That is, as soon as one raises like a trillion bucks (hyperbole, of course) to get you your groceries in ten minutes, another one comes along, promising you your groceries in nine.

    It’s insane…


    And for Ahmad Yousry and Rabbit in Egypt?

    Well, to call a spade a spade...it’s been more of the same.

    They had the pre-seed heard all around the world last year: $11 million dollars, before even launching! It was the biggest of its kind in the history of the entire Middle East.

    But Rabbit’s story…Ahmad’s story?

    It’s not just yet another case study on raising money fast or delivering milk and bread fast…but rather: on building fast.

    It took he and his team 130 days…yep: 130 days…between coming up with the idea for Rabbit….and making Rabbit’s first delivery.

    And in the process, he’s helped put Egypt…well, on the damn map, inspiring a generation of Egyptians to dream big and move quick…like a Rabbit.

    • 38 min
    Abrar Bajwa - Revolutionizing the Agricultural Supply Chain in Pakistan (Tazah)

    Abrar Bajwa - Revolutionizing the Agricultural Supply Chain in Pakistan (Tazah)

    Let's start with some pretty staggering statistics:

    About 22-25% of Pakistan’s GDP comes from agriculture. That makes it - depending on how you measure it - an industry worth between $60 and $100 BILLION.

    40-45% of Pakistan’s eligible workforce works in the agriculture industry…from farming, to trading, to transportation & logistics. That’s nearly 30 million people.

    So, with agriculture making up such an important part of Pakistan’s economy and even social fabric, surely you’d think groceries would be easily accessible and affordable in Pakistan…right?


    The farm to table supply chain in Pakistan is SO inefficient and SO inequitable that:

    Only 60% of agricultural products actually reach it to a grocery store from the farm. The other 40%? It goes wasted...expired...perished.

    The price has gone up 4 times…yep 4 times (!) between being harvested at a farm and being sold to you when rung up at the cash register.

    And...the price of groceries in Pakistan is SO disproportionately high relative to Pakistanis' earnings that Pakistanis spend...get this: 30% of their disposable income on food items. 30%!

    And perhaps most shocking?

    Despite how much of Pakistan is built on agriculture…it remains, to this day a net IMPORTER of agricultural products.

    Crazy, huh?

    Well, now, fortunately...someone's doing something about this massively inefficient and inequitable supply chain.

    Meet Tazah: a technology platform that connects wholesalers, retailers, and restaurants DIRECTLY with farmers. 

    That is, instead of a mango having to go from farm...to trader...to commission agent...to wholesaler...to retailer...to YOU, it can go straight from farmer to retailer.

    In turn? Farmers can operative profitably...retailers can be more competitive...and Pakistani grocery shoppers can save their hard earned money.

    And Tazah - albeit new to Pakistan - is making headlines...like having the biggest pre-seed raise in Pakistan's history...and reaching a nearly $1 million GMV fewer than six months after launching.

    Abrar Bajwa and his colleagues at Tazah? Oh man...they're on to something. Something big...

    • 51 min
    Denise Sandquist - The Hottest Dating App in Vietnam (Fika)

    Denise Sandquist - The Hottest Dating App in Vietnam (Fika)

    There are stories.

    And then there are stories.

    And for Denise Sandquist, her story could - and should - be chronicled in a movie.

    We start with Denise's "gap year" -- that is, the year some 18-year-olds spend between graduating high school and starting university.

    Most backpack Europe or Southeast Asia...or volunteer...or intern. But Denise?

    Her gap year was...a 5-year gap year, where she:

    Went to spy school and learned Russian
    Lived in Moscow for 1.5 years working at the Swedish Embassy
    Moved to Vietnam in search of her biological mother that she had never met
    Studied in China for 3 semesters to learn Mandarin
    Spent time in Thailand learning how to kickbox and then won a fight night contest against an opponent with 50 victories under belt

    Like I said...could - and should! - be a movie.

    And so finally, in 2014, Denise - at 24 - enrolled in university in Sweden, only to return to Vietnam in 2016 - again, in search of her biological mother.

    And one Facebook post and 18 days later...she found her.

    For Denise? It was an indication of the power of the internet...the lesson that social media doesn't always have to push people apart, but instead, can bring them together.

    And so graduating two years later in 2018, Denise founded Fika in early 2020: a localized dating app for the Vietnamese, Southeast Asian, and East Asian markets, that - already! - has nearly 1 MILLION downloads and some incredibly novel features, like personality tests and a couples mood that gamifies relationships.

    And to grow this fast...this quick in Vietnam?

    I think you'll agree quite quickly it's a feat...only Denise would be capable of.

    Her story:

    • 54 min
    Roland Ros - Building the 'Disneyland of Social Media' in the Philippines (Kumu)

    Roland Ros - Building the 'Disneyland of Social Media' in the Philippines (Kumu)

    The BRICS.

    Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. 

    For much of the 2010s, if you were to ask any global investor or geopolitical pundit what the hottest emerging markets were, they’d likely point to one of these BRICS countries.

    More recently, countries with big, young populations like Egypt, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Vietnam have caught investors’ eyes as the "next up" markets...but theres one, well booming archipelago nation of over 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia that likely deserves a whole lot more attention than what it gets:

    The Philippines.

    Consider some of these staggering statistics:

    The Philippines has a population of over 110 million, with a median age less than 26.

    There are 12 million Filipinos living abroad...outside the Philippines, like in the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, and, really everywhere in between.

    A vast majority of Filipinos speak English, making the Philippines the 3rd largest fluently-English speaking country in the entire world.

    Now combine these population statistics with the facts that a) there’s billions being spent to lay 4G infrastructure throughout the entire country, b) there’s been an influx of really affordable smart phones flooding the Filipino market, and c) you have a digitally native country that’s been called the 'social media, texting, and selfie capitals of the world', and well, you have the perfect storm for an imminent Filipino tech boom.

    And for Roland Ros and live streaming social media app Kumo, it’s been boom indeed.

    Starting in 2018, Kumu has taken on the name “the Disneyland of social media”...allowing content creators to live stream what it is they do best: from shooting hoops, to singing, to just ... hanging out with their communities.

    Think: a Twitch ... without the video games.

    And with viewers rewarding creators with micro gifts, (akin to flipping the guitar-playing street performer a buck), Kumu has become the highest grossing social app in the Philippines with over 10 million users, raising over $100 million in the process, and is well on its way - no matter who you speak to - to becoming a Filipino unicorn.

    But to get here, seemingly overnight, for Kumu founder and Filipino-American Roland Ros, it’s been a far longer, far harder journey...one of back-and-forth-travel, of introspection, of failure, and of a newfound love for his wonderful, ever-growing homeland: 

    The Philippines.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Michael Khoi - 'Buy Now, Pay Later' in Central Asia and the Levant (ZoodPay)

    Michael Khoi - 'Buy Now, Pay Later' in Central Asia and the Levant (ZoodPay)

    Four letters: 


    Buy now, pay later.

    It’s all the craze these days.

    Square, for example, just announced plans to buy the Australian BNPL company Afterpay for...get this: 29 BILLION dollars.

    On the side of the equator, Swedish BNPL player Klarna raised $639 million in their recent round at a $45.6 BILLION dollar valuation….and the US based BNPL Affirm, who IPO’d earlier this year, has today a $33 billion market cap.


    But what is BNPL?

    Well: it depends who you ask.

    Ask a consumer - that is, you or me shopping online, and it's a way to buy an expensive piece of furniture or the new iPhone in instalments instead of upfront, all at once.

    Ask an e-commerce player - that is an Amazon or an online D2C brand, and it’s a way to drastically increase checkout conversion rates.

    Ask a financial advisor, and well, it could be just another way for people to take on really bad debt they just cant afford…

    But ask Michael Khoi, founder and CEO of ZoodPay and ZoodMall?

    BNPL is a way of empowering a mother in Uzbekistan earning 400 dollars per month to buy clothes for her child.

    It's about letting the young Iraqi buy groceries before his pay check comes in

    It’s about giving the 8 MILLION Jordanians who don’t have access to credit….access.

    And - in bringing BNPL with ZoodPay to the likes of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan - Michael’s also caused an e-commerce wave in the form of ZoodMall, a digital platform that gives access to interest-free, personal loans and….what he calls ‘necessary shopping’ to over 110 million people.

    And in the process, he’s just raised….nearly 40m dollars in one of Central Asia’s biggest Series B rounds EVER.

    Michael...ZoodPay...they’re not here to burden customers with debt to buy a new car, no - the average loan they make is $100.

    Instead, they’re here to make life for Uzbek, Kazakh, Iraqi, Lebanese, Jordanian...and soon other customers...just a little bit easier.

    • 47 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
44 Ratings

44 Ratings

alexf031 ,

My favorite podcast

How has no one done this yet? In depth, intimate conversations with founders from all around the world, in the most unimaginable places? David is absolutely brilliant…and so are each one of his guests.

MJGee31 ,

Great content

Love this! It’s very informative and the host is very engaging by keeping us interested.

Dosh or Jonna ,


Using a well understood format to showcase stories we’d otherwise hear!

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