Lauren Dunford, the co-founder of Safi Analytics who was accused by her former team member has responded to the ouster accusations. In a story we ran two days ago, we detailed how Kennedy Nganga was allegedly ousted by his expatriates’ co-founders. Kennedy Nganga narrated how his other two co-founders, i.e. Lauren Dunford and Weston McBride whom he met back in 2017 prearranged his ouster from the company they had founded.
Lauren Dunford has refuted the claims and termed them as untrue. When we reached out to listen to her side of the story, she indicated that Kennedy was simply an employee who had a Kenyan employee contract. According to Lauren, Kennedy was entitled to a monthly salary and was part of an employee share option program.
“Kennedy and I were first introduced in late June 2017 by a mutual friend. Based on what he shared, he was both passionate about and skilled in the kind of analytics on which Safi Analytics was focused.” Lauren told Founder360°.
“Before that, Jason Dunford and I had registered the company in the US in March 2017. We also registered the company in Kenya in July 2017, before Kennedy’s employment in September 2017.” She added.
Lauren also added that while the company is registered in Kenya as Safi Analytics, it was earlier registered in the U.S as SafiGen; and in both countries, the company is registered under Lauren Dunford and her husband Jason Dunford.
Read: The Founder of Kenyan Startup Safi Analytics has Allegedly Been Ousted by His Expatriate Co-founders
She further reiterated that the title “co-founder” as earlier given to Kennedy was simply done in good faith and to appreciate him for joining the team at such an early stage, but the title did not have any ownership on paper. The only other title he had was as Director of data.
“Kennedy is not listed in the founding and registration documents. He is not the founder of the company.”
Lauren’s account also negates Kennedy claims of having built the prototype product together. While she agrees that they came to Kenya with simply an idea when they met Kennedy, the main product that Safi Analytics is using was built by two Argentinians engineers brought in by Weston McBride, a co-founder and the current CTO. She also adds that the prototype that Kennedy built was never and has never been used as the main product of the company.
Another bone of contention Kennedy had raised was the severance package he was offered. Lauren has also refuted the claims that Safi Analytics did not sufficiently remunerate Kennedy.
“This is incorrect. Kennedy was paid his terminal dues in August 2018. We are confident that our adherence to our values as well as local laws at every stage will be clear when interrogated during the court process.”
At this stage, it simply difficult to verify each of their claims since none of them has produced any legal documents of the ownership or the employment terms. Lauren has indicated that due to the court case process, she’s unable to release any of the documents or email correspondence we requested.
What is very key and not yet clear is the justifiable reason as to what led to Kennedy’s dismissal from the company. Both parties are yet to shed a light on this. According to Kennedy, there was a lot of cajoling and pressure for him to resign from the company and give up his shares in exchange for a separation offer. But even then, he does not indicate what led to the pressure.
Was it a case of non-performance on Kennedy’s side? From the statement Safi Analytics shared publicly, Lauren highlights that Kennedy had specific goals to achieve and he received frequent feedback on his performance both verbally and in writing.
Or was it simply a case of one party being “greedy” and “dishonest…”? In this case Lauren. Note that Kennedy was the one leading the operations in Kenya. Not only was he given the co-founder title but he solely ran the company from September 2017 to December 2017 and from January 2018 to July of the same year. And this was when Lauren was still completing her grad studies. If indeed, Lauren gave him the title “co-founder” on “good faith” as she described to us, then she would have granted her first senior-most employee corresponding shares on the “same faith” to back that up.
Better yet, can this be a case of an unjustifiable ignorance on Kennedy’s side? From the statements given, Kennedy seems to have operated on words and promissory notes of good faith from Lauren and Jason. He claims to have been told that the company was registered a Delaware corporation in the US and that local subsidiary had been set up in trust under Jason Dunford; in that Jason was not sure he would be with the company for a long time and he would ultimately leave. Did he do any due diligence? Why didn’t follow up to be included in an equal partner as he claims to be one? Why would he agree to be put on employee share option program yet he believed to have been a co-founder just like Lauren and Jason? Did he miss to read the fine print?
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