We talked to Dare Odumade on how Chekkit makes the products we buy trackable, and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dare Odumade: We are faring well, thank God, and thanks for your concern. Interestingly, our products and services have surged in demand amongst this period’s difficulties as brands now look for mediums to accelerate consumer data sampling without hosting infield activations.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Chekkit?
Dare Odumade: I’m a serial internet entrepreneur with failure and success stories over ten years and counting. I started my journey into building software solutions from University as an undergraduate at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, where I co-founded a social network for the University which got over 30,000 students to sign Up and later founded a Music streaming and messaging solution which crashed due to lack of capital. You can read more about my story here.
In 2017 during my training at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Ghana, just after I completed an Entrepreneurial training at the SDA Bocconi School of Management Studies in Milan, Italy – I was eager to put my problem-solving skills to building an infrastructural software solution that can make life better for Africans then I met with a pharmacist friend of mine, who shared her story with me about her experience with patients who had died as a result of Unknowingly taking substandard or counterfeit antimalarial medication. I thought that anyone could fall into this danger. Data showed no adequate market sensitization about how 5-8 out of 10 versions of a product may be fake or substandard in the African market because of the heavily fragmented and porous consumer goods supply chains. This was why I started to develop Chekkit as a product authentication solution that provides value for both Consumers and Product producers by leveraging blockchain technology and artificial intelligence. The company officially launched in 2018 and has grown to have some of the best brains/talents on the continent join the team. We’ve expanded our business and impact by over 2000% in the past two years.
How does Chekkit innovate?
Dare Oduma: Chekkit generates unique identifiers for unit products in the form of pin and QR stored on the blockchain network, which leverages existing product information like barcode numbers in developing the unique identifier (UID). These UIDs are printed on a sticker label affixed on the product. Consumers can verify them via our website, or by dialing the USSD code – *347*03*PIN#, instantly you verify the authenticity of the product you can answer 2-3 survey questions after which an instant digital gift is given to the consumer. These gifts could be airtime or merchandise, or loyalty points, which are redeemable. Simultaneously, on the flip side, the product producers get access to the insights generated from the consumer’s answers, thus helping them better understand what their consumers think about their product.
Furthermore, we have partnered with GS1 and other giants in the pharmaceutical industry to develop a blockchain secured ledger system that allows verified global producers to trade directly with verified distributors to track and trace securely on the entire supply chain mechanics in Nigeria and the Middle East. This product would be launching soon.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dare Odumade: The coronavirus pandemic slowed down operations but, interestingly, has increased the demand for our consumer intelligence service from the FMCG customer’s point of view. The FMCG client can not organize in market experiential activation marketing to gather consumers’ groups because of the pandemic. As such, they are continually searching for digital, experiential marketing alternatives, and there’s no better consumer intelligence service in the market except Chekkit.
Thus, we are coping just fine.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dare Odumade: Yes, we had to create flexible remote structures and stringent reporting systems to keep the entire team in check, which has led us to understand our team and their strengths better. It was very challenging at first, but we got the hang of the new normal.
We also learned how to apply our technology to solve covid-19 problems for government agencies and policymakers – this helped us develop a key feature in our product, which we offered to bodies like Africa CDC.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Chekkit in the future?
Dare Odumade: We take stress relief measures like sponsored holidays, retreats, and vacations to re-energize the team.
We source the best talents in Nigeria and worldwide to work with and ensure we give them the most favorable work conditions to ensure they deliver.
Over the next 12 months, we plan to reach >100 consumers with our anti-counterfeiting solution and grow by another 1000% as we’ve grown by 2000% over the last 24 months. We are currently available in Nigeria and Afghanistan, and we are also looking to spread across UAE and West Africa over the next 2-3 years.
Our vision is to be the seal of Genuity for every great tangible product and help consumers understand these products’ history.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dare Odumade: Our competitors are, Sproxil, Mpedigree, ubqt, and pharma secure.
Our differentiators are:
1. Integration of DAG blockchain to secure all the pins and consumer data we collect.
2. Real-time consumer insights generated from survey questions that pop up during the authentication process.
3. We reward consumers for authentication with digital rewards – including instant airtime, loyalty points, and merchandise
Your final thoughts?
Dare Odumade: We are an impact first, then for-profit business, and are looking to expand from 10 million labels, which are available in Nigeria and Afghanistan, to 100 million, over the next 12 months to increase the number of consumers we protect.
We are on a mission to make every tangible consumer product smarter, safer, and trackable.
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