Image Credits: Figorr
Oghenetega Iortim created Nigeria-based cold chain startup Figorr after envisioning a better means of storing and transporting temperature-sensitive products, following post-harvest losses from his fresh farm produce venture.
Figorr (formerly Gricd) operates IoT-powered solutions that provide businesses, particularly those in healthcare and agriculture, with key data such as the location, humidity and temperature of perishable products, helping entrepreneurs reduce losses resulting from from the lack of such visibility. Figorr cold storage devices are available for free, but users subscribe to access the collected data.
Iortim says Figorr is currently in the process of expanding, following an increase in demand for its solutions outside Nigeria. The expansion is fueled by a successful seed funding of $1.5 million raised in a round led by Atlantica Ventures, with participation from VestedWorld, Jaza Rift Ventures and Katapult VC. The startup has so far raised $1.7 million in equity funding and $275,000 in grants from various entities such as Google Black Founders Fund, Africa Business Heroes from Jack Ma Foundation, FbStart and Lafiya Innovators from Impact Hub.
Outside of Nigeria, Figorr solutions are currently being used in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. It recently entered the Kenyan market to capitalize on the growth of its agricultural sector.
“Kenya is a very interesting market for us, especially because of the agricultural play. We also believe it can be a very key springboard into new markets,” Iortim, founder and CEO of Figorr, told TechCrunch.
Figorr is also set to launch a risk management platform before the end of the year, which will provide insurance companies with the data needed to present bespoke products to their clients. The platform will be built around the data Figorr has been collecting for the past three years to show the risk profiles of its customers.
Iortim believes that with relevant and specific data, insurance companies will be in a better position to provide customized products.
“One big challenge we’ve seen serving the sector is that many of our customers are afraid to receive notices that their products are exposed to harsh conditions, and that’s simply because historically perishables have been a risky sector,” Iortim said.
“We help insurance companies see the opportunity by providing them with the data [and] for our customers, if something goes wrong, they will have some comfort that their insurance provides them with some level of coverage,” he said.
He says the insurance solution he is building will revolutionize the way business is done, especially for small farmers.
Iortim said that having insurance will not only insure businesses against losses, but also ensure that products are cheaper as businesses will not have to pass on costs arising from losses to their customers.
Iortim launched Figorr in 2019 as a provider of solar-powered mobile storage boxes before focusing on doubling down on the IoT component of the product.
“When we created the solution, many people were more interested in this IoT component, and in 2020 we decided to focus on helping businesses monitor temperature-sensitive products, informing them of the location as well, helping them prevent losses from happening.” happened,” he said.
Iortim expects Figorr to continue to grow, supported by rapidly growing opportunities in Africa’s agriculture and healthcare sectors.
In Nigeria, the device is mainly used in the healthcare sector to monitor temperature-sensitive products such as vaccines and insulin, while in markets such as Kenya, there is demand in the agricultural district, especially from horticulture businesses.
In sub-Saharan Africa, 37% of food produced, or 120-170 kg/year per capita, is lost or wasted due to poor storage and handling, but this is preventable if food is stored safely and monitored in real time to prevent losses. It is estimated that half of the world’s vaccines go to waste, mainly due to cold chain breaks.
Startups like Figorr help prevent these losses caused by poor storage and lack of monitoring.
“What we’re building is something that really impacts people,” Iortim said. “You can actually see the real effect on people’s lives in terms of access to health care and improved incomes.”