Interview with the founder of Pigee the homing pigeon as they discuss what makes a founder tick and how meaning is found in a vision o post-capitalism.
Leonardo: Hello Leroy
Leroy: How’s it going?
Leonardo: Very well, very well thank you. You finally found a way to do what you felt was your aspiration since when you were a child. By creating a start-up, and probably with the foundations that you created with your previous company, which was also a start-up, yes.
Leroy: Yes, so everything I’ve learned in the past has taught me two things. It taught me lots of skills that I now have, and it’s also taught me that I need to learn loads more skills. Which is why I kind of read so much and speak to people so much and do as much as I can.
Leonardo: So, you think, from the point of view of meaning, all these what you’re doing now is giving you meaning is like the reason to live. So, it might look like that your meaning in life is about creating value. But you told me that actually it’s not because you want to go beyond that beyond capitalism and so now, you’re doing it with Pigee. How do you pronounce it, Pigee?
Leroy: Yes, Pigee.
Meaning and Post-Capitalism
Leonardo: So, is Pigee the current meaningful project, so to speak?
Leroy: Yes, most definitely. I’ve invested lots of money and time this last year and endless waking/ and thinking hours about it. And researching everything else so we put everything into it. Yes, so definitely any start-up, any business should be a problem solver. And the more things it can solve the
Better. So initially it solved my first world problem, which is, I go on a holiday somewhere and I love negotiating with people in street markets, trying to get cheaper prices. It’s like a sport for me. Something I learned from my mother. But then I can’t buy all the things I want because I don’t think I’m going to get this stuff home [in my suitcase].
So I was in Zanzibar on a weekend away during a work trip the year before last and I thought’ well there’s got to be a way to fix this problem. I have it all the time. Then I thought about it and figured out the solution for it. Then I figured out that not only does that mean that me and my first world self can get stuff [sent] home.
That those small shop businesses who will only normally see me once and sell me something once and it’s very unlikely that they’ll ever see me again. Now they can keep selling things to me via the app once I’m at home. So hence they can make 10x more money. They can be in contact with all of their historical customers. Making much more income. So I thought this is great.
I spend a lot of time in Kenya because we have a business out there and I’m always going to Maasai markets and of course Maasai people are traditionally not really big on capitalism. They like to just farm cows and do what they’re doing, but the ones who come out of their [farming] land into the cities to sell things. They don’t make much money and I know they would make a massive improvement [using Pigee].
I’m on the board of a charity now in London but I’m not a massively convinced person into charity. For me the best kind of charity is allowing people to make a future for them themselves. I think that’s what Pigee really enables for people. So, we’re solving issues that weren’t just money related. It was solving problems which are lifestyle related and things that are fighting poverty things that are improving people’s existence.
So, when I used to think about creating an industry and creating lots of jobs that’s what I was thinking of it for. Whereas this [Pigee] might not create thousands of employees directly, but indirectly it will hopefully improve the income of millions or thousands of people. So that is definitely does motivate me.
Leonardo: So, there are these two components. One is improving people’s lives which is completely selfless. Well not that the other is selfish, but I mean it’s completely like out. And the other, more for yourself, is the act of creation. All the start-ups here and there, doing things, inventing new ways not much for creating a unicorn as much as for creating.
Improving Lives With Technology
Leroy: Yes, I think it is going to be a unicorn, but I guess I’m a creative person anyway. And I’m a competitive person, so I like to do really difficult things. I’m not somebody who had done a lot of running but I started long distance running. I was doing 10 kilometres every day, from somebody who couldn’t run 200 meters in my early adulthood. So, anything that’s really difficult, that challenges me. I like to do.
There are other things that could be the same way [challenging] but start-ups are… You can read all these books which are increasing this roadmap for you, which weren’t even available 10- 15 years ago. But even with lots of roadmap and guidance you can get from reading lots of books and speaking to people. Still, there’s so much grey area, and I love that grey area.
I love the fact that there’s bits that no one’s quite discovered yet, that’s unique to your personal experience and journey and challenge. That really gets my juices going.
Leonardo: What next? So, you say in this life where capital is not relevant or important, it is about helping people, or enjoying the being on the beach on in a hut?
The Influence of Star Trek
Leroy: Well, I’m a real Star Tek person. When I think of the future, I imagine Star Trek. I imagine a post capitalist super technological advanced state. Where our health is extended, we’re all much smarter and we’re all discovering things around the universe.
That’s how I foresee the future and so everything in between is me figuring out what little bit I can do to help us get in that way of higher human living. Rather than going around this this kind of wheel of limited capitalism. I want us to advance in that direction.
Leonardo: So, I think that this is your calling or the reason for which you do all you do.
Well, thank you very much!