Finance professional turned venture builder and now Chief Operating Officer at Kubik, Mike Tekable has a passion for people, data, and technology. As a child of Ethiopia, he is motivated to bring sustainable development to the continent while actualizing Kubik’s mission.
Mike joins us in conversation about his role, the impacts of Kubik, and the importance of building a startup on a strong foundation of principles. Read on to hear more about Mike and his motivations to build dignity through clean and affordable living for all.
Can you describe Kubik in three words?
The biggest word that comes to mind is adapted. We’re building a lot of things very quickly, and learning a lot in the process. We often make assumptions and work on a base of these assumptions, but when we get new information we’re able to incorporate it quickly.
Another word that comes to mind is exciting. Working with everyone on the team, with so many different backgrounds, and different interests, I think the work environment has been pretty exciting.
The last word is inspiring. The vision that Penda and Kidus have in building Kubik is very infectious. Every new journey so far has been extremely inspiring. I think the vision of building dignity through housing is something very tangible that you see when you travel to Ethiopia and Kenya, it’s making a real change.
Tell me about yourself. What has shaped you into the person you are today?
Change has been a constant factor throughout my life. I grew up in a lot of different places from a very early age. My formative years were spent in the US and in Canada, and then most of my childhood in Germany. I consider myself a child of Ethiopia too, with my Ethiopian heritage, despite never actually living there. A big part of feeling connected to Ethiopia was formed through my mother. She helped me connect to Ethiopia by exposing me to the culture and customs and stressed incorporating other cultures into my life. She’s been a huge, huge influence on my life.
She started her own company at 50 years old. She was taking calculated risks and some people would not have done that, and that has been something that she’s passed on to me.
What inspires you to work for the betterment of others and the planet?
It comes back to my childhood. Growing up in the Global North, I had the luxuries of being able to travel, having a house, and having a clean living space. This was always put into perspective and contrasted when I visited Ethiopia. These extreme differences were some of the motivating factors to move to the continent, especially Ethiopia or East Africa.
There are a lot of extremely talented people in the region, and a lot of exciting work and development will happen in the next few years. I want to be part of that and facilitate that change.
Do you have a favorite memory from working at Kubik so far? What’s the best part of your job at Kubik?
So far, my favorite memory was our first big Brick-by-Brick session. Brick-by-Brick is our semi-annual management retreat where we come together and discuss everything related to Kubik. The first one was back in May, and it was so interesting because we were convening for the first time as management thinking about the culture, principles, and foundation we want to set for Kubik. It was a very instrumental time. We had a lot of discussions, and a lot of debates, and ultimately it created a very strong foundation for Kubik. I’ve seen that culture is often an afterthought for startups, and I am happy that we’ve recognized that people and culture more broadly are our most important asset.
My favorite part of my day-to-day work is interaction with all the different teams. My role naturally creates this dynamic of bringing everyone together and understanding everyone’s work, I feel very energized by that. I’m very fortunate to be in this position.
What do you see for the future of Kubik?
What I’m most excited about is the environmental impact we’ll have, but also the development of jobs and worker formalization. At Kubik, we have strong principles but I’m excited to put these into practice, improving people’s lives. In the near future, I think we’ll see a lot of these principles being implemented and actualized.
I also see growth. Right now we’re under 10 people working at Kubik. Once we have the factory set up we will be around 200 people in this organization. It’s daunting but extremely exciting.
It’s comforting to know what the team has already been able to do, but we all understand that this mission is not something that will get done by just 10 people. I’m extremely excited to welcome new people to Kubik and confident that they’ll have the passion that we share as a management team, but with an ability to grow and develop our culture.
The exciting part about where we are is that we are doing stuff but this is where we actually start doing stuff. The beginning of actualizing our principles starts now. We are about to take the first step to actually make the change we say we’ll do.
Interested in joining our mission to build dignity through clean and affordable living for all? Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org