Meet Danny Manu, the Ghanaian-British entrepreneur making his mark across the globe one business venture at a time.
On the rise of becoming one of the few most successful black-owned businesses in Manchester, Danny can’t help but be thankful. “It’s been a long and stressful road to get where I am today, but I never expected this,” explains Danny. In just 6 years, Danny has built his business empire and the Mymanu brand now has customers across Europe, the US, and Asia. Danny claims his secret to success was all down to hard work, determination, and good old self-funding.
The path of the 33-year-old inventor started from an early age, but his business took to new heights in 2017, when Danny placed the world’s first truly wireless earphones with live voice translation onto the world stage. While the wireless earbuds can make phone calls and play music, their unique translation abilities make them stand out from the crowd. The wireless gadget can translate more than 30 languages in real-time, with translations going straight to your ear for a seamless conversation. A very handy tool for both businesses looking to find new customers overseas where English isn’t widely spoken and for travellers as the summer holiday season looms.
The idea of starting a consumer electronics business all started when Danny’s daughter Gabby threw her phone into the bathtub – that small daily inconvenience drew a lightbulb moment for Danny. “At the time I was working as an Aerospace Engineer, but I realised that my passions lay elsewhere. I decided then that I wanted to help people lead easier and more connected lives, and I knew I had what it takes.” Danny went on to create a waterproof voice-controlled Bluetooth speaker named after his daughter Gabby and founded his startup.
The road to success has been very challenging. Like the 88% of black startups in London, Danny built his business venture by self-funding. Many studies and research have shed light on the hardships BAME businesses deal with. Research by Dr. Stuart Fraser of Warwick Business School at the University of Warwick shows that black-owned firms are several times more likely to be denied loans than white-owned businesses. “Like all the other ethnic minority-run businesses within the UK, I had a hard time getting the funding and financial support from banks and government-funded programmes that I needed,” says Danny.
Fortunately, Danny found other ways of generating funding. “Most of my funding was through either personal savings, own sales, or money I had raised on crowdfunding sites. If you truly believe in your product and ideas, you shouldn’t have too much trouble convincing other people to believe in them, too.” Danny raised an extraordinary £5,000,000 on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, so it was clear that his faith paid off.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, Danny didn’t let his focus waver. With quick thinking and some well-established connections, Danny saw another business opportunity in sight. “I was in the midst of securing some major investment deals with top travel and hospitality firms when COVID happened, and of course, everything fell through. Suddenly everyone was talking about PPE and the general lack of safety equipment.” Danny began reaching out to his connections in Hong Kong, and by March 2020, he had established Medybird.
“I wanted to help my community and do some good, and Medybird was the perfect solution,” says Danny. “I saw how COVID 19 was affecting the BAME communities and my fellow local businesses here in Manchester – it was heartbreaking to watch.” Within weeks Medybird was suppling much needed PPE equipment to Manchester’s businesses. Danny then went on to save lives throughout the rest of the world, shipping out over 15 million PPE to countries in need.
Looking back on his success with both Medybird and the Mymanu brand, Danny is still realistic.
I remember every single point of my life that lead me here. At one point, I was stacking shelves at my local supermarket back in London – it’s crazy to see how far I’ve come.” When asked what advice he could give to other entrepreneurs and startups, he ponders. “The most important piece of advice I learnt was to focus on your successes and believe in yourself – if you surround yourself with your accomplishments and don’t stop believing in your dreams, you’ll have a real chance.
Written By: Nicole Newton