TESTED – @MiAlpesh
“The Dream is Free, but the Hu$Tle comes at a cost”
“The rhythm of Tested is as palpable as a hard-hitting hip-hop classic from Jay Z, as humorous as a Russell Howard or SNL skit and as emotional as an R&B ballad from Marvin Gaye or Beyoncé.” – Buki Mosaku
From the African bush to the streets of London, from the souks of Tangier and the concrete jungle of Hong Kong to the bling of Dubai and back to mother Africa; this is a riveting true story of what happens when an entrepreneur tries, tries and tries and fails more times than he succeeds. A soul searching narrative full of highs and lows, culminating in the creation of a pan-African consumer brand that eventually is sold to a multibillion-dollar company.
This is not a rags to riches story. Alpesh is living proof that in life we lose more times than we win. He talks about the dark side of entrepreneurship and the challenges of maintaining the human spirit to keep going no matter what. His journey confirms to us that our lives only really begin once we step outside of our comfort zone.
If you are looking to quietly tiptoe through life and hope to reach the grave safely then this book may not help you! However, if you are looking to thrive regardless of what life throws at you and keep getting stronger and wiser in the process, then this book will help you on your journey.
This is a memoir of a Soul TESTED
“Alpesh keeps it real, real funny too!! An amazing book that tells a beautiful story lived fully and intensely. The unbelievable hustle , the emotional rollercoaster , the ins and outs of a journey! How the entrepreneurial journey began small and became a huge success. How it all fell apart and how the real hustler always gets back up. I could not put this book down, every word was feeding my hungry desire to know what happened next!!!” – Irina Zain
”What we gonna do?”
“If we can’t find the Louis Vuitton I really don’t see what else we can buy. Maybe we should call it a day and go back home?” I said to Shoey.
I then noticed that there were a couple of guys on the next table staring at us.
“What are you guys looking for?” One of them asked.
I went silent for a bit.
“Where are you from?” They both asked one after another.
“London.” I replied.
Their eyes lit up and they immediately started talking to us about English football. Next thing we knew, the guy asked us again, “What are you looking for?”
“We want to buy quality leather goods but they must be a famous brand name. We hear there are some good bargains here in Tangier?” I replied to his question with a sense of eagerness and desperation.
I guess it was our lucky day. One of the guys (his name was Abdul Aziz) told us to follow them to their shop, where we could have a chat. Once we got into his shop, he quickly announced that one of his cousins worked at a factory that made all the Louis Vuitton leather goods, which were then supplied to some select shops in the souk. I told him we were interested but we wanted to see the place first before committing to anything as we knew what we wanted and when we saw it, we would know. We also did not fancy being ripped off like we had been a couple of days earlier. Abdul Aziz told us all was well and that we should follow him to see his cousin. He advised us that we should make a quick stop at our hotel to get some of our cash if we were ready to make a purchase. After collecting our cash from the hotel, we followed Abdul Aziz into the back alleys that led to the heart of the souk. Our hearts were beating – very fast!
Shoey and I kept looking at each other as if to say, “is this for real?” It was like a scene from a movie. Two of us following two large Moroccan dudes in black leather jackets, going deep into the souk like a gangster drug deal was about to go down. After some serious walking, we seemed to be in the deepest part of the souk where there were no shops, just plain old buildings with hardly any sunlight coming through the roofs. We stopped at one door and Abdul Aziz gave a couple of hefty knocks. A small window in the top part of the door slid open and all we could see were come large bloodshot red eyes looking at us. A few seconds later, we heard what seemed like 20 chains and door locks being unshackled.
The Moroccan guys greeted each other, hugged and started talking in Arabic but the guy with the red eyes just kept on eyeing me and Shoey up and down. We were ushered inside and led into a room that had just a rug on the floor and some large Moroccan lamps at each corner. We followed our two guys and Mr Redeyes and sat on the floor with them. The place was musky and there was a scent of incense, cigarettes and hashish in the air. Mint tea was promptly served and the guys lit cigarette after cigarette. Abdul Aziz was a real smoker. Since the time we had met him in the café I’m sure he must have smoked two packets of Marlboros. The Arabic banter between the guys was in full flow. Shoey and I just sat there in silence looking at everyone, trying to smile and maintain our innocent naive composure. Seemed to me that Mr Redeye was checking us out by asking questions about us.
About 30 minutes later, the whole atmosphere changed. Mr Redeye clapped his hands and shouted loudly in Arabic and suddenly it all started popping off. Like a theatrical circus show, the curtains at the back of the room came apart and, one by one, we saw young kids coming out of the woodwork with bags – lots of them. They quickly emptied the bags to reveal even smaller bags, belts, wallets and purses.
All of them were Louis Vuitton!
My eyes popped out of my head. I went crazy with excitement and couldn’t keep my hands off the goods. The craftsmanship, the logos, the designs, the zips, the stitching were all exactly like the Louis Vuittons I had seen before. It goes without saying that we knew we were dealing in fakes and I’m not shy to admit that. Yes, we went to Tangier to buy leather goods but, f**k that, we were going to leave with fake Louis Vuitton leather goods!
The smile on our faces was unreal. We had found what we were looking for. We now had to seal the deal and the haggling started. Coming from the UK we were not used to haggling like this, but that was when our Gujarati genes may have kicked in. We asked the price of each item and set aside what we wanted. Shoey was busy writing down the prices as they came out of Mr Redeye’s mouth. Funnily enough, all of a sudden Mr Redeye’s English also became much better. Once we had chosen all the items, we had to think about two things; how much money had we got and how the f***k were we going to carry all this stuff back to Hull?
My first experience of hardcore bargaining had started. I showed the Arab guys the money that we had on us. I knew if we showed our money it would be very hard for them not to sell us something. I also felt that as we had been introduced to them by other locals that maybe we could get a better bargain. They started high and we started low. The aim was to meet somewhere in the middle. We must have spent two hours in that joint and we must have drunk 20 gallons of mint tea, but the excitement was all around. Eventually, we settled on a price and a quantity that we could afford. To make the case stronger for better pricing, I started bullshitting and promised them tons of repeat orders. I told them we had a massive market back in the UK. The truth was we didn’t have any market whatsoever. This was all just one big gamble with our government grant money.”
“I laughed, I cried but I learned so much more than how to push for my dreams. In between his sharing of foibles and triumphs, Alpesh teaches culture and the culture of global business as well as drops little lines of wisdom… If you want a REAL story (memoir) with a “behind the scenes” look at what entrepreneurship and “hustle” looks like and a chance to get to know the man behind the brands-this book is for you. I highly recommend it. “ – Natasha Stevens
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alpesh runs Peshmode Ltd, a UK based Advisory and Business Consultancy specialising in Go to Market Strategies, Entrepreneurship, Intrapreneurship and Results orientated Sales solutions. He has been dubbed as one of the first Tech Innovators to come out of emerging markets and has worked with industry giants such as Visa, Vodafone, Western Union and Uber.
Alpesh is a Public speaker and has appeared on several panels such as The Titan Academy, The GSMA ,The African Leadership Network and The Wharton Africa Conference.
“A book about true entrepreneurship that is both enjoyable and full of life and business lessons. It features stories and lessons of true entrepreneurship told through a compelling and emotional narrative. The author utilizes a cinematic and conversational writing style that evokes vivid mental imagery and draws you into the story of his personal journey.“ – Jeff M
“Alpesh with his from the hip brilliant writing, manage to take you with him on this amazing yet painful journey without any hidden agendas, just the hardcore truth on the world out there and the constant struggle to make the real “QUAN”. He is not afraid, hesitant or embarrassed to spill his guts there and then, and boy…..you certainly gonna feel it with him! So, for all the boys and girls out there who have an aspiration to achieve recognition, respect and decent if not great looking bank accounts, this is a MUST READ, trust me it will save u few (if not many) errors along the way.” – Doron Nagar