For close to a year Cameroon has been in a tense state on the political front. The government has toggled the internet on and off in the country in order to keep misinformation and animosity in check. Despite the adverse situation, Cameroon-based Zuoix developed an innovative offline tracking mechanism for use by vehicle owners. The tracking system, Zoomed, has since won a prestigious award in the country for innovation and is currently in use by several individuals and companies. TechMoran spoke to Zuoix CEO Zuo Bruno about the company, its journey so far and plans for the future.
Tell us about yourselves; your team, your educational and professional backgrounds, and your journey with Zuoix so far
Firstly I want to thank you for inviting me into this forum. It is a great pleasure for me and the entire Zuoix team to be with you. Well, my name is Zuo Bruno, Founder and CEO of Zuoix which is an Offensive Information Security Company based in Limbe, Cameroon I am 34 years old today, happily married too. My team is made up of young and talented people, I work with Fergus Assam, Numfor Bridget, Tabot Ebai, Zuo Patience (My Wife), Dieter Trapp and Blaise Amadou amongst others, we work with a number of local electricians too.
How would you best describe Zuoix briefly, what does it do? Tell us about your product Zoomed?
ZUOIX is an Offensive Information Security company found in Limbe, Cameroon. The company quickly gained grounds in Silicon Mountain Ecosystem where it offered free Cyber Forensics Classes and other training mostly for free. Just like ZOOMED, we have other successful projects like RAfrica (listen to free radio stations across Africa via any smart device), GCE Helper (facilitates students writing the Cameroon Government Common Entrance Advanced and Ordinary Level pass with good grades), SOS (Smart Office Security ; a home/office building security system based on SMS) and ongoing projects like Crime Line and Motrix.
ZOOMED stands for ZUOIX Object Oriented Motor Electronic Device. It is a car security system that makes use of the SMS platform, GPS technology, Bluetooth and many modern technologies to secure cars. ZOOMED works solely by sending SMS commands from your existing mobile device such as your mobile phone (Any Type) Smart Watches, laptops, Fixed Phones or tablets, to your fleet of cars. ZOOMED makes use of specific SMS commands to carry our different functions on your fleet or car which include the following:
Overspeeding Checks, alerts and analysis
SOS Alarm with Artificial Intelligence
Accident Prediction and Prevention
Fuel Management / consumption Analysis
No Internet Required
Each car is secured with a password allowing only the car owner to carry out specific functions. Our team is constantly working on the clock to make ZOOMED a better service for use in Cameroon and across Africa.
What market gap did you spot that motivated you to start this company?
Honestly, I was motivated to create this application because of the disconnection of the internet from the English speaking regions of Cameroon, during this time a lot of people I knew lost their cars even though they had subscribed for Car security companies, some paying up to $500 just for installation fees and as high as $50 USD for monthly maintenance fees. However, when these cars were stolen, the owners could not recover them, the reason being that these systems relied entirely on internet connectivity, and once they were taken out of the country, the internet settings would change making it impossible for these cars to connect back to their owners. So, I immediately recognised that this was a problem and I wanted to solve it with technology. Another reason was the high cost of securing cars which excluded the average Cameroonian from enjoying the service, I thought that an SMS based system will be cheaper and also the internet services were difficult for some people to understand and use but SMS is easier and covers a wide area of the territory across the country and Africa at large.
Who is your target market?
Our target market is anybody who needs to secure any Automobile (Vehicles, Yacht, Ships, Motorbikes, just to name a few.). Anybody who wants a very good security system on their Automobiles. This includes but not limited to logistics companies, transport agencies and motor taxi operators even delivery companies and governments
How does your company make money?
Well, for now, we make money from selling our products to our loyal customers. We charge very low (since SMS is cheaper in Africa than the internet) we charge an installation fee from $100 USD and a monthly maintenance fee which can be paid daily of 17 US cents or monthly from $6
Who would you say is your major competition in this space at the moment?
We have a lot of competitors, all car tracking companies in Cameroon and Africa are our competitors. The difference though is that while all of our competitors secure cars using the internet (which is available to only 13% of the African population) we are making use of SMS which is available to more than 76% of the population and by extension we cover more territory just by using SMS.
What is your vision for the company in the next 5 years? What is your plan for expansion? Any new products coming soon?
Definitely, expand. Move to a much bigger office and employ a lot of people. We plan to make not only Africa but the world a better place. We want to have a major influence on the development of Africa as a whole and the world at large. Currently we have Four (04) projects we are currently working on and we hope that in a short while we will be able to put them in the market, The first is SMS Office Security (SOS) which will secure homes and offices using SMS, We are also working on a Fishing application which will allow local fishermen to locate fish in rivers, lakes and coastlines using SMS. We are also testing out Crime Prediction with SMS with an Application code-named CrimeLine and Lastly Motrix, a custom-made device for convoy security.
At the moment, how do you measure your own success? What are your metrics?
Well, we are doing quite well at the moment and if we are to scale we need to do even better. We currently have 105 paying client of which 90 are champions (Clients really dedicated to the product) we have a total of 612 individual installations and currently available in Cameroon, Ghana, Congo Brazzaville, Congo Kinshasha, Benin and hoping to scale even more to other markets, we have a 2% churn rate which is pretty good for a startup like us.
What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs?
Failure is not a crime and it should not stop you, you have to be self-motivating, pushful and never give up. Like they always say; Good Things Takes Time, and I will tell them to always remember that they owe their innovation to Africa, it is their responsibility.