How Fedironics’ iMeter aims to prevent electricity theft & improve energy management in Nigeria

Fedironics Intelligent Metering Company is a smart metering company founded and incorporated in 2016. At Fedironics they believe that everyone has a personal power and that access to electricity is key to unleashing this power for the good of humanity. Fedironics provides iMeter, a smart and affordable electricity meter designed to improve access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa starting from Nigeria, by giving electricity consumers and utility companies control over how electricity is used through smart metering technology, electricity theft prevention, convenient energy management and bill payment software solutions.

TechMoran caught up with Ugochukwu Ifediora C.E.O Fedironics Intelligent Metering Company and here is what he told us;

How did you come up with this idea? What inspired the birth of your company?
Growing up in our community Aba, south of Nigeria, inaccurate and outrageous electricity bills were a nightmare because you get disconnected if you don’t pay. My mother paid in tears most times. Today, it has grown worse with energy theft at its highest level, because some consumers avoid paying for power consumed through meter bypass, while consumers that have no meters are made by the utilities who loose revenues to pay for what they haven’t consumed through estimated bills, leading to poor electricity access for those who can’t afford this.
This inspired my career path in the Electricity Utilities and later the creation of the Intelligent Meter (iMeter) which gave birth to Fedironics Intelligent Metering Company. iMeter has a hardware and a software part. It is patented in Nigeria and received International Telecommunications Union’s Excellence Award.

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Outline the services or products that your company offers to the consumers. Who is your target market?
Our target customers are Electricity Utility Companies while our users are electricity users.
Fedironics provides iMeter hardware to the utilities which provides the following services
1) Smart metering technology that provides accurate digital energy measurements, billing and tariff management.
2) iMeter detects meter bypass and 5 energy thefts with the location and reports in real time to Utilities.
3) Big data management and analysis.
However we provide our users with energy management solutions and convenient payment solution via the iMeter mobile and web software applications.

What market gap did you spot that motivated your venturing into this business? How did the market receive you?
Two market gaps actually motivated us to venture into this business which include High cost of meters and “advanced” energy thefts not currently detected by available meters. The utilities in our market in Nigeria were excited about this, they loose a lot of revenue through electricity thefts because the current meters they use are unable to detect these thefts.
If somebody wants to venture into this market, what are they looking at in terms of capital, growth rate and stability?
The capital requirements to enter into this market largely depends on you business model and what percentage of the production process will be done locally or abroad.
Growth rate in our market is high because of the demand of smart meters and the influence of Government policies in Nigeria which has also brought in stability.

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How did you guys start in relation to funding, with investors or savings?
We actually started with personal savings and donations from friends and family. And in 2017 we got a grant investment from Tony Elumelu Foundations.

What are some of the barriers that you faced since launching your business?
The major barrier we have faced in launching our business is accessing funds and lack of stable electricity, which is a problem we are solving.
What keeps you going, entrepreneurship is challenging. Nowadays, everyone is venturing there.
I think entrepreneurship is a “Calling” with a big “Why”. When you are at that point of giving up, the strength of your “Why” is tested and if it’s strong enough, you will have a unique paradigm shift about who you are and your purpose on earth which fuels you up to keep going till you see results. Then these results also add more fuel to your passion.
What do you want to do for the society as a business when it comes to giving back?
We currently have a blueprint for our foundation, which will focus on free healthcare for the poor and underserved in our communities in Nigeria. We were a part of a healthcare outreach in Apirl 2018. In the long term we want to use technology to reinvent the structure and delivery of healthcare service in our communities.

How do you market your company? Any marketing advice to those who want to venture into the same?
Our key customers are the electricity utilities and marketing for us as a B2B business starts from our product development. We had meetings with each of these companies and included some of their preferences in our product designs. Lean methodology approach and proper customers validation process is very useful in developing a B2B product and makes marketing it much more easily because your product is need focused and have a shared ownership with your consumers

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Someone looking to do entrepreneurship, what’s your advice?
Ask yourself what you and the world around you will lose if you don’t become an entrepreneur! The answer to this question is the best advice on whether to be an entrepreneur or not because you are going to need a big “Why” to sustain you through the journey of entrepreneurship.

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