We have all being concerned and worried-sick about that friend, brother, sister, and family member who did not return home😔😔. We fear that something sinister must have happened to them. We heave a sigh of relief when they eventually return home. In some other cases, sadly, they do not return. Both experiences are really terrible and no one should go through such a horrid experience. What is the solution? The desire to keep Nigerians safe and offer them quick and reliable access to emergency services prompted Ugo Akanno to set up MySecureview. Akanno in this exclusive interview throws more light on MySecureview, its value proposition, and most importantly, how it aims to keep Nigerians safe and secure. Excerpts.
Can you tell us about MySecureView?
MySecureView is a mobile platform (app and web) designed to keep users, friends, and their families safe and secure by connecting them with the closest trusted and prequalified emergency service provider. MySecureView also notifies users of incidents happening around them, their safety circle members I.e friends, families, colleagues, and their favorite places. MySecureView also provides users access to other urgent general service categories like plumbers, electricians, carpenters, mechanics e.t.c.
What prompted you to establish your startup?
My 3-year-old daughter had a medical emergency 2 years ago that almost took her life. Fortunately, I didn’t go to work that day and was able to rush her to the emergency room. This was a near-miss that made me realize how vulnerable we were in terms of our safety and security in Nigeria and the need for a system that seamlessly and quickly connects users and organizations with the closest trusted emergency service provider.
Tell us about the moment you decided to become an entrepreneur? What did you have to do to be where you are today.
It was in my 2nd year in University and we were given the assignment to write a computer program using FORTRAN 77. Most of us didn’t know much about programming or computers then so most students got a Ph.D. Computer science assistant lecturer that ran a computer lab on campus to write the codes for them.
However, I decided to do it myself. I took the code to the computer lab to have it run there. The owner of the lab after running my program, immediately started asking questions about who did it for me. He confessed that it was really good especially as I wrote in 5-6 lines without bugs what he did with 20 lines.
The word quickly spread and I ended up writing code for most of the faculty of engineering. As the workload increased with more programming assignments I decided to put together a small team and scale up our services to other faculties. We not only made quite some profit on the venture but also felt a huge sense of pride from our accomplishment. It was at that point I decided to be an entrepreneur.
I should also mention that though I have a 9-to-5 job, I am always on the lookout for opportunities to improve systems. I believe that no matter how good a system is, there is always a better way and it’s our responsibility to find it.
One of the biggest challenges many Nigerians face is security. How is MySecureView helped in this regard?
MySecureView addresses this problem by using GPS-enabled technology and MySecureView’s proprietary security algorithm to deploy solutions that warn users/organizations and their families/ employees of incidents happening around them in real-time as well as connects the user to the closest responsive service provider in record time.
Our platform enables the service provider to quickly locate the user during emergencies and the user to track the arrival of the service provider. We are also creating a risk profile of most major Nigerian cities. This automatically notifies users whenever they enter a high-risk area and gives them access to the most responsive emergency numbers in that area.
How will you describe the reception so far?
The reception initially was very challenging because people were not use to the idea of using a mobile app to request assistance during emergencies. But as we improved the service, making it more intuitive, user friendly, signing up reliable service providers, and most importantly improving the quality of reported incidents, user adoption improved significantly with organizations also seeing the need to complement their existing conventional incident notification system which is highly dependent on SMS with our solution that’s more cost-effective, accurate, reliable and inclusive of other value-added services.
Can you tell us about MySecureView’s value proposition and how do you make money?
We provide users with relevant incident notifications occurring around them, their families, and favorite places, thus ensuring the safety and security of the user and those they care about. With the state of insecurity in the country and the proliferation of fake news, the need for a trusted, robust, secure incident information management system can not be overemphasized.
MySecureView allows users to report incidents with associated multimedia (pictures and videos) at the specific location. We also have our team of incident analysts constantly searching for and reporting incidents. Once an incident is reported, other users within the radius of the incident location are immediately notified via several means (SMS, In-App, and email). The friends, contacts and family members of the nearby users are also notified regardless of their location within or outside Nigeria.
MySecureView runs a subscription based service. We have a basic FREE plan for new users, and a cost effective premium plan that costs N1,990/month. Our corporate plans are customized to each organization depending on the number of users and features they want.
How do you think MySecureView can stand out from these competitions?
Consistency is key. As a company, being consistent makes us stand out from our competitors as one that is reliable and trustworthy. A consistent system creates a line of trust and when this is broken, customers start to look elsewhere for their needs.
How did MySecureView fare during this coronavirus era?
Like most organizations, we initially switched to Hybrid Work Mode i.e. a team rotational schedule with some team members coming in on alternate days so as to minimize exposure. We then later switched completely to the remote working mode when we realized that as long as personnel had good data bandwidth, the quality of their deliverables was reasonably maintained.
The COVID-19 era interestingly saw us signing up our most valuable corporate customers to date as organizations quickly saw the need for staying up to date on incidents happening around them especially with the #EndSars protests. People also got to appreciate the value of having access to pre-qualified service providers that would have access to their homes to render services.
Capital and funds are key to starting a business? How did you go about funding MySecureView?
The initial capital for our first release was self-funded. Once the initial version released to the Android and App stores. As we gained traction, we then offered some close friends the opportunity to invest and own a stake in the business.
Many startups fail in their first five years. What measures are enshrining to ensure that MySecureView is here in the next five, 10 and 20 years?
Simplicity, innovation, and commitment are the 3 core values at the heart of MySecureView. We are constantly looking for ways to simplify our solution. We realized that people are very busy and don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring out your tech. Technology goes extinct very fast in today’s world which is why almost everything we do here at MySecureView is driven by innovation. We are constantly on the lookout for innovative and more cost-effective ways to satisfy our customers.
Finally commitment. We pride ourselves on the commitment of our team. We do not have a huge workforce, but we get a lot of great work done by the team we have. I think I like the way Steve Jobs put it, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do ….. Don’t settle”. At MySecureView, we are passionate about what we do and our team is our greatest asset. We also have a team of advisors who are part of the initial investors. Our advisors are seasoned professionals in other fields and industries who contribute immensely to various aspects of MySecureView on a part-time basis.
What are the challenges of running your startup? What are your future plans?
One of the biggest challenges of running our startup has been access to incident information as soon as they occur. Nigeria is a developing country and most of the public emergency service providers are not interconnected due to some infrastructural gaps. MySecureView exists to help bridge the gap between these organizations and users but in order to do this effectively, we need to have the right partnerships and endorsements with the government agencies (Police, FIRS, LASEMA, e.t.c).
For future plans, from a technology standpoint, we intend to integrate MySecureView algorithms into wearable devices like smart watches and other discretely held devices.
We will also be making available MySecureView APIs for integration into existing mobile applications of organizations, that way they don’t need to install another app on their phone to start getting the SecureView value.
From a market entry perspective, we currently have users in about 75% of Nigerian states and we plan to enter other African countries in the coming months. Thanks to MySecureView’s scalable technology, market entry into a new location can be done remotely and seamlessly without setting up a new office.
What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
I think Rand Fishkin puts it best… “Best way to sell something – don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, & trust of those who might buy….”
For further enquiries, contact MySecureView via firstname.lastname@example.org or call +234(0) 705 998 8777. You can also follow @mysecureview on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Download MySecureview here.