Scottish technology company Cojengo are enjoying great success in Africa less than a year since receiving seed-funding from Gabriel Investments. In the last month, Cojengo have secured a formal partnership with the College of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture at Addis Ababa University, and also celebrated the launch of their VetAfrica app in the Microsoft Store.
Such huge strides are more impressive considering the company was only formed by Craig Taylor and associates in October last year. Having established their market-place, Cojengo are able to focus on expansion throughout Africa, but Craig concedes that the initial support he received from Gabriel provided them with the firm foundation they are now building on.
He said: We had a different vision of how we’d start out, which actually involved quite a lot of risk. Then I was introduced to Gabriel, via Josh Sauter (advisor at the Strathclyde Enterprise Hub) and Barry Hochfield, an Enterprise Partner and Gabriel Business Angel. Having never started a company before, or had much experience with investment funds, it was all new to me, but Gill and her team made the process as easy as possible
With Gabriel support secured, Cojengo are honing their products, primarily the VetAfrica app which protects the livelihood of rural farmers by allowing them to quickly diagnose livestock; a process made more effective with access to the resources of the Veterinary College in one of Africa’s top 30 Universities.
Craig said: It was extremely important for us to form a partnership with an African Veterinary institution, as we now have an insight into the real problems that people face every day. The alliance with Addis Ababa University allows us to meet decision makers on the continent and obtain commitments to our development, but even more crucially we will be able to meet our users and better understand their challenges so that we can evolve VetAfrica around their needs.
The University is not the only high-profile partnership Cojengo have brokered during their short cycle, having spotted and exploited an opening earlier this year with software monoliths Microsoft.
Craig said: I previously worked in the Microsoft channel, gaining some relevant experience and a knowledge of the way they operate. When they launched the 4Afrika initiative, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take the work I’d done as a student in 2008 and move it forward commercially.
Craig’s final-year project offered a solution to the regular loss of precious livestock in the Horn of Africa, and he felt it would be well-suited to the Microsoft 4Afrika initiative, built on the dual beliefs that technology can accelerate growth for Africa, and Africa can also accelerate technology for the world.
VetAfrica was born.
Craig said: Getting the app live and approved by Microsoft has been our main focus to date. It really means a lot to us. From a business perspective, we can now reach a much wider group of users and start to ramp up marketing activity, and the feedback we receive will help us develop future versions of VetAfrica to the benefit of the country
Now dividing his time between Glasgow and East Africa, Craig has travelled quite a distance since first jotting-down a business idea on a University notepad. He had this to say to any aspiring entrepreneurs:
If you have an idea or product you believe in, be passionate, do your market research and due diligence, and don’t be put off if your business plan is only in the early stages. Gabriel value promise and personality, and can help evolve your business with their experience, advice and expansive network