Honeywell Group‘s venture capital programme for African startups, Itanna, held its second acceleration programme where three innovative startups, Gerocare, E-Estate and SimbiBot showcased their solutions to problems in health, real estate, education and the automotive business in Nigeria.
The three Nigerian startups were selected among over 200 applications from innovative founders. The applicants were from eight African countries in need of capital investment and the much-needed brand backing from Honeywell Group which has been in operation for nearly 50 years.
The acceleration programme is held for four months at Itanna Enterprise Factory in Lagos. Tech startups that participate and make it to the Demo Day (day of pitching and exhibition) get capital investment as well as advisory services from industry experts and mentorship from established tech entrepreneurs.
Startups solving real problems
This year’s finalists were four and were from different sectors of the economy. They were on a quest to end the traditional method still being applied by Nigerians in their daily activities.
Gerocare is a tech health-startup established to take care of the medical needs of senior citizens (elderly) in Nigeria. It was founded by Dr Ebinosa Ofrey, Bruce Lucas and Ajibola Meraiybu in 2017.
It was co-founded by Hassan Tobiloba, Salako Segun and Ejinne Ogbuo in 2017. It is a tech startup operating in the real estate business. It provides electronic estate management service to gated communities and residential estates.
It is an education tech startup looking to transform the archaic method of learning in Nigeria’s educational system. In 2017, the startup was founded by Abdulazeez Ogunjobi and Sodeeq Elusoji.
Carido is an automotive tech startup connecting automobile owners with verified automobile service pro riders close to them. The startup was founded by Juatus Obaoye and Abdullateef Ololade in 2017. Carido didn’t pitch its tech solution at the Demo Day.
Speaking about the event and the essence of Itanna acceleration programme, Tomi Otudeko, Director at Itanna and Head of Innovation and Sustainability for Honeywell Group, told Nairametrics that, “The event was a demo day for our second acceleration programme. We’ve had two acceleration programmes in Itanna. Itanna is Honeywell Group’s corporate venture capital platform.
“This was a Demo Day to showcase three of the companies that are in our acceleration programme, the work they do and to present them to the world.
“I’m truly impressed by the companies. I’m excited by the product and services they offer. I’m quite excited that they are solving real problems and I believe that they will do amazing things.”
What’s the big deal about Itanna?
In an interview with two of the startups that presented at the Demo Day, Nairametrics was told that the investment wasn’t the motivating factor, rather, it was the value the Honeywell brand would have on their portfolio.
According to Ogunjobi of SimbiBot, “We applied to Itanna because we needed an acceleration programme and after looking around, we saw the value we could get from Itanna knowing fully well that it’s an extension of Honeywell and Honeywell is a giant company in Africa.
“And I also heard it’s (Honeywell) passionate about education, so those are things we factored in before applying. And on getting the application and the interview stage, we also saw the value we also get from the mentors and their network which made us so particular about this acceleration.”
Also speaking about the reason for applying, Lucas, the Chief Technical Officer of GeroCare said, “We did a due analysis of what we needed to grow, and most of the things we needed to grow was not funds at the time because we had funds from venture platforms which we were still managing to make sure the business succeed.
“So the next set of things we really needed was access to network. Itanna is a product of Honeywell Group which has a lot of companies in the group of companies and have access to a lot of networks. So that was the critical part of our coming.
“Then we should be in Itanna so we can have enough backing that is not money – even as much as they are also doing some financial investment in Gerocare – they will give us more than money in helping us grow. The brand itself, Honeywell Group is also a unique asset that we might not just find anywhere anytime. So that’s just part of the decision making in joining Itanna.”