James Githinji, best know as TheCure J-Soul , went to Sunshine Secondary School. He was the last ‘breed’ that wore shorts. The girls (apparently) loved his legs. He became the Games Captain in Form 3 and could wear trousers, though he mentions they did not have a swimming pool back then (imagine), and used to swim at Moi Educational Center.
He later studied BCom at Strathmore University, majored in marketing with a minor in business administration. He had a passion for marketing. It came naturally (notes or not). He cleared university in 2010.
He has worked in various industries, mainly automobile and FMCGs.
He heard about Instagram in 2013. He joined, and his first post was his mother’s room. It is still his first post (I confirmed). He posted a lot of humour, and his friends and their friends started following him. In 2014 he adopted a more structured posting on his Instagram page, and a few months later he had a few companies calling. He has digitally marketed for Heinekenn, Airtel, Burger King, TaxiNet, Muthaiga Golf Club and several SMEs.
Starting a business
James’ business is called The Cure Agency. He started toying with the idea in February 2019. It took him 2-3 months to actually tell his boss that he was leaving. There was always the hesitation to take the leap. He describes it as the hardest thing he has had to do.
Luckily, when he left employment, he was retained by his former employer as a consultant. They agreed on his scope of work; minimum presentations and meetings and guiding employees in data management.
“I had rent. I could now focus on getting the business off the ground,” he explains his relief.
James says his passion is now his work. He has found self-employment fulfilling and in line with his long-term goals.
“There is a show on Netflix called Explained, where they bring out two things about billionaires,” he says. “They gather a lot of wealth from passive income, and none of them is employed.”
However, for aspiring business owners, James insists that you should only leave your day job if you are passionate about what you want to venture into. It gets challenging, but passion will always wake you up in the morning.
James has two role models.
“My dad has always had an admirable work ethic. I have only seen him miss work once,” he says. “I have seen him grow from when we did not have a car, to our first car, to a better car, a house and so on. You could see all the stages.”
He believes he got his work ethic from his dad. He has always been on time. Even in his customer care job, he always wore a tie.
“I also want to meet Eliud Kipchoge. I remember when he tried the challenge with Nike. Many people would give up after that failure,” he says. “He never gave up. He gave the world so much hope when he broke the world record last year.
James is most inspired by Kipchoge’s resilience and his humility.
“I like his humility and how simply he lives his life. This tattoo on my arm, is a prayer to God to keep me humble, despite all that I achieve in this world,” he says, pointing to a tattoo on his arm that reads Galatians 6:14.
James has a mentee, called Victor, who helps him in designing his campaigns. He has experience in face-to-face advertising, and James is assisting him to plug into the online sphere. He guides him on the approach to digital marketing, the dos and don’ts, discerning what the customers want to hear and the approach to specific clients’ campaigns.
Every now and then, he also guides some SMEs in their engagement with the market at no pay.
Advise to upcoming influencers
He insists that you have to connect with the brand before you take up a digital marketing assignment.
“It is very important that you connect with a product. I was able to successfully run a campaign for Burger King because my friends and followers know me as a foodie,” he says.
James is of the opinion that influencers should sieve the assignments they take up. Your identity has to match the brand that you are working with. Otherwise, your followers will not relate to the product, and will see that you are only in it for the money.
“The goal is to remain authentic. It should never look like an ad, even if you are being paid for the campaign,” he advises.
“If I cannot relate or connect with a product, I turn down the assignment. Otherwise, it will be a betrayal to the client, myself and my followers,” he says, pointing out an influencer who used an iPhone to market another phone on a twitter ad.
He is on his third Heineken.
“Kaa mbaya mbaya,” he says. “If your instinct keeps knocking on your door, it gets to a point where you have to open.”
This mantra has gotten him to make hard decisions when called upon to. For instance, he did not inform his mother before quitting his job. He just did it.
Plans for 2020?
“Our focus in 2020 is on corporate clients, trainings, PR and events,” he says.
They have noticed that many corporate clients think that digital marketing is easy, and therefore hire interns to do it. They want to show them there is a science to it. They have a couple of repeat clients, including the British High Commission and Kilifi Festival. They have already hired a salesperson and have identified a portfolio of clients that they want to approach.
He believes there is a gap in skills set in corporates as far as digital marketing is concerned. They intend to exploit this opportunity using training as a strategy to penetrate digital marketing in corporates.
The Cure Agency is also working with the Kilifi Festival for an event in April and will be hosting a morning show on Asylum Radio, an online radio, from Monday to Friday at 8am to 10am.
“The idea is to provide an alternative to the radio content in the current morning shows. We will have different themes: Motivational Mondays, money Tuesdays, karaoke Wednesdays, TBT on Thursdays and sampling of various products in the market on Friday,” he says.
James believes PR should not be shelved until there is a crisis. It can be used to shape sales. The company will focus on entrenching this concept in their training.
The Cure Agency will continue its involvement in charity work in 2020 through its foundation, The Cure Foundation. The Cure Agency commits 10% of its revenue to the Foundation. The Foundation has been involved in a street boys housing project in Umoja, where in collaboration with a street life organization ran by Kayla Neys has housed 25 street boys and managed to send 5 back home.
One of his childhood memories is being dropped and picked from school by his mother in their Toyota 700. He wants to revive it, so if you see a bearded guy in a blue KKH 278, wave and say hello.
He will probably stop and say a thing or two. If “nini nini” (which he literally said more than 100 times during the interview) is not one of them, report the car stolen.