IPTLC: Good day sir, can you please introduce yourself?
TOMI: My name is Kolawole Tomi, a co-founder and CEO at Vinsighte Technology, I’m a final year medical student of the University of Ibadan. Also, I’m an entrepreneur and a digital health technologist. I love sport and I’m a Chelsea fan, I watch football, boxing and Basketball.
IPTLC: It’s such an honour to meet you. You mentioned in your introduction that you co-founded Vinsighte Technology, tell us about Vinsighte Technology.
TOMI: Vinsighte basically, is a digital world venture which uses technology to aide those who are visually impaired to be able to read and navigate their environment independently. What we did is that we developed an artificial intelligence software that reads to visually impaired persons or simply put it helps blind people to read. As at now, we have about 1000 visually impaired users, and we’ve been able to generate revenue of over $30000 in the past 12 to 16 months.
IPTLC: Wow, you’re doing an amazing work over there! We truly need more people like you in our world. I am particularly fascinated by the revenue part. Who came up with such a brilliant Idea?
TOMI: I did. In 2018.
IPTLC: I can safely say that I am interviewing a great man. Look Mama, I made it!!! So what was the process like? Tedious? Below what you expected? Or just as you envisaged it would be?
TOMI: Actually, the process was not easy, it took us about two years to develop the final product that we put into the market. It was however a whole lot of work as it is not a technology that is so easy like that; we had to develop artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. The technology was also not a familiar one in Africa.
IPTLC: 2 years? That’s a pretty long time. I thought since the idea was already on ground, it wouldn’t take more than a few months to execute. I really do appreciate the resilience and determination you and your team put into this, its highly commendable.
TOMI: We have prototypes that we were piloting and testing for those two years and we were making money from, but because of the delicate nature of the kind of product we are trying to release into the market for blind persons, we could not just launch like that until we ensure that our product was 100% so that’s why it took two years. Initially we were building hardware but had to switch to software at a point. So, it was a whole lot work to ensure that we are trying to bring out something perfect. Plus, it was not a familiar or an easy kind of technology so we had to be extremely careful, and that’s why it took that long. Eventually all paid off and the good thing is that before we launch, we were able to make money from what we had and partnership.
IPTLC: Considering the amount of work, you’ve expended on this great invention, where do you see the company in 5 to 10 years?
TOMI: Well, I see us being a massive company, a global brand in 5 to 10 years from now. But the funniest thing is we may not be with the name Vinsighte because we might have changed our mode of operation as well as a bit of our market to be able to expand and reach out to more people. As a group, I see us being able to reach out to various people not just the visually impaired, other market segments and I see us creating technology products that we can use in other spaces like finance and the likes because our goal is to be a constant developing and innovative company that solves variant problems within the african demography.
IPTLC: Do you know what Intellectual Property is and if you do, how do you think IP can help build your company into a stronger, resilient and more competitive one, is there a way you think IP can help you generate more revenue?
TOMI: Basically, our IP is structured on our technology, and that IP is the new concept and innovation we are able to develop around our technology, making it unique from other people’s own. It is more structured on the algorithms that we wrote to build our technology that’s where our IP is embedded. The truth is in Africa really, IP doesn’t really help to generate revenue, as much as in the developed countries. For instance, whenever Microsoft develops a new kind of algorithm or technological structure, for like 3 to 5 years they have exclusive right on it and nobody gets to use it and when people want to start using it, they start paying what is known as royalties. But in a place like Nigeria, people hardly make any form of revenue or profit from IP. We just register rights for registration sake really, because the IP regulations are not so strong. However, its always preferable to register any IPR for in case somebody comes to say why are you doing what I’ve already done and things like that. We actually have a few IP but we didn’t really register them. But in the long run especially when you’re building a global product, IP can be very important.
IPTLC: It is interesting to know you have knowledge of what IP is. And as you’ve rightly said, Nigeria is a little backward when it comes to Intellectual Property. Notwithstanding, it is important to register your rights in your works. There are different rules guiding the protection IP rights in various countries. And considering the fact that you’re going beyond the shores of Nigeria to promote your invention and generate funds for the production, it is advisable to patent your invention. You can also trademark your logo as well as the name of your product. There different rights embedded in the invention which can come in handy now and in the future. This rights although intangible are invaluable. Finally ,it is my pleasure to tell you also that the Intellectual Property and Technology Law Club is always available for any advice or information on IP. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Thank you so much for your time, it’s been an honour interviewing you and sharing your story on our platform. We wish you greater success.
TOMI: Thank you…It’s a great pleasure 🙇🏾