Team Gridzer, a team of four Faculty of Science students in the University of Lagos (UNILAG): Rotibi Adedeji Ifeoluwa, Joshua Chinemezu , Daniel Oluwaseyi and David Ukauwa, recently clinched a top prize of 1.5 million Naira at the Tech Money Africa Summit held in the campus in mid June. The Team’s head, Daniel Oluwaseyi, in this interview with AYOMIDE OLUFOLARIN, SOLOMON OLADIPUPO and ISAAC ALESH MELCHIZEDEK, tells more about the competition, their innovative idea and the prize.
Could you tell us about TechMoney?
Basically, we went there for the Hackaton; that was what got us involved. But according to my little findings, it was just more like a meeting between investors and entrepreneurs. There were lots of investors from counties like South Africa, from the US especially, to talk to entrepreneurs, get to know what their ideas are all about and if they could key into it. So, it was just more like a business-tech kind of circle. I think the name of the event depicted what happened, tech money, you have a tech idea and so there’s money for you as far as you can sell your idea and your idea can sell. My team did the Hackathon, and thankfully, we won.
What was the innovative idea that won the hackathon?
I don’t think I will like to say much about that. All I know is that they gave us a couple of topics to talk about and we spoke about power. Power is a very important sector in the Nigerian ecosystem. If we can solve our power issues, the country would get better. So, our innovative idea was on power.
We had to build some sort of IoT (Internet of Things) solution that comes with a mobile application that actually helps to reduce power consumption.
Could you tell us a little more about this?
I wouldn’t say much about it but how about you could switch off your electrical devices from your phone? It is just an IoT solution. An IoT is basically a new technology that is going to drive the world forward probably in the next couple of years. So, an IoT solutions that is connected to your mobile devices and electrical devices
There are those that advocate for solar panels and reduction in fossil fuels. On a general note, what is your preferred approach to the problem of energy and how does IoT features in all of these?
We generate energy in this country is in different ways: We have for the gas stations, then the transmission company of Nigeria, those are the ones who generate the gases. The way we generate electricity in this county is really not nice in all honesty. There are solar panels that could help us generate more viable electricity. But we were not really concerned about that, we are more concerned about the users, the people that actually make use of the power that is being generated. How about you are able to manage the amount of power you actually get? How about the power distribution companies (DISCOs) knowing the actual amount of power consumed by each household? At least, we were told by an industry expert that the DISCO only knows the amount of power that is being generated to a particular area and not the amount that is being generated to each household; so it is actually a very terrible situation.
What is your opinion on the future of innovation. Do you think there is still going to be a place for those that are not in the science world?
I believe every innovation that is coming up right now into the world needs some sort of Information Technology (IT). IT is virtually in every sector: If you have one innovative idea in education, you need IT. In agriculture, you need IT; if you have an innovative idea in whatever sector I think you need IT because nobody wants to go back to pencil and paper.
What inspired the solution you proferred that won you the prize?
First of all, it was a competition. Before the competition, obviously, we didn’t really think about that. But we looked at the topics they gave us: they gave us fintech, power, lifestyle, and one other one. We looked at it all and asked, “Which one is more of a problem to us in Nigeria?”. It was power, so we had to think of something on power for us to solve. We would have gone into fintech; fintech is buzzing currently, but we were quite certain that most people would be doing fintech and it happened that way. We just needed to be smart and play on the psychology of what is happening right now.
How would the 1.5 million prize help to fuel the innovative idea that you have?
As regards the cash prize, we can’t really say much on that because we are not really clear on it. I don’t think we are actually getting the 1.5 million naira in cash. They told us we’ll be travelling. We can’t really say; when we meet the organizers, we will talk more on that but for now I can’t really say.
What advice do you have for people out there that are passionate about this kind of thing but do not really get the platform to exhibit some of their ideas?
I just feel time and chance happens to everyone. So, before that time comes, and before that chance comes, I think we should just make good use of our time so that when chance comes knocking, we would not miss it. Self development is key.