Chinese, Kenyan team make music together

Larry Liu is the embodiment of the flourishing China-Kenya friendship and pioneered initiatives that have transformed the market.

Larry Liu talks to his colleague at iHub, an incubation space for innovators in the upscale district of Nairobi. 

Larry Liu is the embodiment of the flourishing China-Kenya friendship, having lived in the east African nation for four years and pioneered initiatives that have transformed the market.

The 27-year-old is now the CEO of Pace Africa, a year-old start-up that has introduced high-end entertainment gadgets in the east African market. He is on a mission to make an enduring impact in his new-found home.

Together with Jibril Blessing, Liu and six other Kenyan colleagues have secured a working space at iHub, an incubation space for innovators in the upscale district of the capital of Nairobi. 

Liu said the company, which he co-founded with renowned Kenyan Video director Blessing, commonly known as J Blessing, is reshaping entertainment in the country.

“Ours is a start-up that has been growing pretty fast since its establishment in April 2017,” he said.

“We deal with quality audio products like earphones and headphones. They are cool, trendy and meant for the young.”

His seven Kenyan colleagues including co-founder Blessing, comprise a sales representative, two digital marketers, a brand manager, an administrator and a customer care representative. 

iHub is a prized destination for local and foreign technology wizards who have pioneered thriving start-ups across key economic sectors.

The upper floor of Senteu Plaza, where iHub is housed, has elegant interior decor, comfy seats and wide corridors.

Its roofing is environment-friendly while its brown floor tiles bring out an authentic feel to technology enthusiasts who flock to the place every day.

Liu and his team clearly enjoy the ambience at the iHub as they exchange views on how to grow an enterprise that is slowly reshaping how African music lovers enjoy their favorite songs. 

He said his vision is to design niche entertainment gadgets for the African market, the potential of which is profound thanks to a burgeoning young population.

“We are a local company with an international vision,” said Liu.

“Our products are designed here and sold through online platforms.” 

He said KeepPace.Net has also set up a foundation to support up and coming musicians.

The bubbly aerospace engineering major said that his startup will soon venture into sports, digital shoes, smart watches and artificial intelligence speakers.


Kenyan musicians use PACE headphones and earphones in their daily work. 

“It is within our near-term goals to promote healthy lifestyles through technology,” he said.

He said that PACE headphones are already a hit in the local market thanks to savvy marketing and endorsement by top celebrities.

“In March, President Uhuru Kenyatta endorsed our headphones and bought dozens. Our products have also been endorsed by top artists, celebrities and business executives,” said Liu.

Pace Africa was founded out of a strong belief in the continent’s potential to produce quality entertainment gadgets that can generate global appeal, he said.

Kenya’s growing army of innovators, artists and budding entrepreneurs have forged enduring friendships with their Chinese counterparts to establish thriving enterprises.

Blessing said his partnership with Liu marked a new beginning in his quest to transform the entertainment industry using technology.

“The idea behind PACE was to give quality music listenership to the ordinary person at a reasonable cost and our brand has grown tremendously,” Blessing said.

“We are young in the market and the reception from Kenyans is positive.”

He noted that a random encounter with Liu at the innovation hub was not in vain since they later bonded and shared a similar vision of transforming the way Kenyans accessed their favorite music.

“My meeting with Larry was per chance and after a brief exchange I realized we shared a similar vision,” he said.

“It was a coincidence that both of us wanted to actualize the vision of establishing an indigenous company with the potential to spread globally.”

He had a positive gut feeling about how a talented and entrepreneurial Kenyan youth could join forces with his Chinese counterpart to establish an indigenous start-up in entertainment industry, that had potential to spread tentacles globally.

“What makes us different is having a combination of Chinese and Kenyan talents to grow a brand,” he said.

“My 14 years of experience in the music industry and Larry’s background in aerospace engineering makes us a great combination.”

He said that his relationship with Larry is rock solid while differences in culture and working norms have not affected their shared dream of establishing a thriving entertainment start-up.

Kenyan music lovers have embraced PACE headphones and earphones to listen to their favorite musicians at the home, workplace and during long-distance traveling.

One of the sales representatives at Pace Africa, Linet Riguru said the market for high-quality devices to stream music has potential for growth in Kenya thanks to rising incomes in urban and peri-urban areas.

“I have always used our headphones to listen to different genres of music and I can confirm they have a crisp sound and their portability is ideal while traveling,” she said.

Ruguru gave a glowing tribute about the working relationship between Chinese and young Kenyan technological entrepreneurs to help reshape the music business.

Nekesa Were, the acting managing director of iHub, said the relationship between Chinese innovators like Larry and their Kenyan counterparts is mutually beneficial.

“Larry is not the first Chinese to come through the iHub but may be one of the more prolific ,” Were said.

“And by that I mean he has gone out of his way to build interaction between him, his team and iHub so that it is a win-win relationship.

“We have a lot of Chinese businesspeople that walk in through the doors.

“We see lots of potential and opportunities for us as iHub and community.”

Khaligraph Jones, a renowned Kenyan musician who has developed a strong attachment to PACE headphones because of their sleekness, said a partnership between Chinese and local innovators has injected vitality in the entertainment industry.

“The sound, quality and everything about PACE is great,” said Jones.

“As an artist I would say that and also because of the fact that it is easily accessible in terms of pricing.

“When we have people from China and Kenya collaborating, it shows unity and growth.

“We want to see this collaboration create more opportunities for people here in Kenya and China as well,” he added. 

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