I first came across the dancing robot on TikTok and in the video which went viral, the robot was dancing with the Dance General. I have to say that I was impressed by how well the robot was dancing considering how big it was. So, when I came across the team during the Chapa Dimba tournament I was elated. I was fortunate enough get a chance to have a chat with Brendan Olouch, the young man behind the robot and this is his story.

@dance_general Between Me & the robot whonis the real commando?! #dancegeneral #commando ♬ original sound – Diamond Platnumz

Brendan Olouch is a 28 year old engineer having graduated with a Bsc Pure Physics from Kibabii University. When Brendan graduated from university, he tried to get a job in his field of expertise but unfortunately none were forthcoming. Fortunately for him, at around the same time one of his friends who had travelled to China came across the robots while there and he was so impressed by them that he imported a robot suit that he was using to get gigs at events. With jobs not forthcoming Brendan decided to join his friend so as to try make ends meet.

Overtime, Brendan Oluoch using his engineering knowledge decided to study how the imported robot was made with a view of making it himself. That is how they were able to reverse engineer the robot suit to a point that they have made several of them to suit various occasions. This made it cheaper for them as they were able to utilize locally sourced materials as opposed to imports. He indicated that he is happy with his current hustle because it has enabled him to apply what he learned in school while at the same time making him some money.

The fact that they design and build the robot suits themselves, has enabled them to customize the suits with ease depending on the clients taste and preferences. Brendan Olouch shared that they are in the process of installing led lights on the entire suit so as to enable them do night gigs for any client who has an evening event.

Given how heavy and cumbersome the suit looks, I was interested in knowing how they manage to work for an entire day. To which Brendan explained that the only heavy part is the feet because they have metallic parts for stability. They also take regular breaks during gigs so as to ensure that they don’t get too exhausted which helps them to rejuvenate and keep their concentration.

To ensure that both the robots and fans are safe during events, Brendan Oluoch shared that he is always deliberate on his movements whenever he is in the suit. Before making any move he always scans the environment to ensure that there is no danger. Which helps him avoid drastic moves which could make him topple over or hurt someone. Also, the suit is made of fibre which is rubbery and can cushion him in the event of a fall. He also has belts that tie him into the suit to prevent an instance where he could fall out of the suit and hurt himself. He added that the legs have springs in them which help him keep balance in the event that he trips or steps on a sharp stone. Lastly, whenever he is walking, he always has someone near him who is looking out for him and warns him in case of any danger.

What many people don’t know is that initially the robots were not dancing but rather just engaging people at events while standing. However, being that Brendan is also a dancer, he decided to spice up the routine by incorporating a few dance moves which made the dancing robots an online sensation.

As it is often said, hard work and persistence pays and Brendan Oluoch and his team are a living testimony of this. This is because before they got their first gig with Safaricom, they had pitched a couple of times but they were not successful. However, they did not give up and kept trying their luck up until they finally got a chance to work with them. They were invited to Safaricom Headquarters for a staff event where they must have put on a good show that they got invited for a Safaricom Gomoka activation where they also delivered. It was this consistency that saw them get invited to be part of the Chapa Dimba tournament.

According to Brendan, working with the Chapa Dimba tournament was the turning point in their business. This is because courtesy of the popularity of Chapa Dimba, many people got to know them not to mention that it helped them go viral on TikTok. He shared that his followers grew from a mere 200 people to over 27,000 followers. It has also helped them land many other clients who were impressed by their concept including Total, Cleanshelf Supermarket among others. He also got to network with various people and is assured of more jobs in the future.

Brendan believes that the Chapa Dimba tournament has had a very big impact on the grassroots football. This is because it has given young footballers who would have otherwise remained unknown a platform where they could showcase their skills and have their talent discovered. He gave the example of players like Benson Omalla who was discovered via Chapa Dimba and has gone on to become one of the top goal scorers in the Kenya Premier League.

His advice to young people who might be looking to do something similar is that in whatever they decide to pursue. They should put in hard work and persistence which will enable them to achieve what they want. He shared that if it weren’t for hard work, persistence and patience, they would not have made it this far. In their case it took them over 6 months to build just one robot suit and they had to make several for the business to be viable.