In this interview, we talk to our first ever startup from Madagascar. We talk to Solofon Rafeno, the Founder and CEO at DizzitUp. DizzitUp wants to improve the electricity supply of a billion people in 20 countries across Africa and South East Asia. DizzitUp wants to be its affordable and reliable green energy. To improve the billing and raise funds for the initial investments they want to put the system on a blockchain and raise funds in an ICO.
DizzitUp was one of the contesters of the Blockchain Startup Summit pitch competition, which took at Frankfurt School of Management and Finance.
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Joe: Hello and welcome everybody. This is Joe from Startuprad.io your startup podcast and YouTube blog. This evening I’m actually here live and direct at Frankfurt School of Management and Finance in lovely Frankfurt. And I do have my very very first startup from Madagascar, Africa. Hello Solofo.
Solofo: Thank you
Joe: Sorry for butchering your name.
Solofo: No, Solofo is fine, Solofo is my first name.
Joe: And you are here because we are at the Blockchain Startup Summit co-hosted by EU startups.com. I picked you because you’ve just been pitching and you do some interesting stuff with your startup it’s called DizziditUp, right?
Solofo: Yes, it’s called DizzitUp.
Joe: Does it in do music?
Solofo: yeah, I’m fond of music, I’m fond of jazz, I love the gypsy and I just mix up my passion with business. In fact, with these, you’ve got a digital so if the digital is up DizzitUp.
Joe: I see. What does this startup actually do because we already know it has something to do with block chain but a lot of startups out there have something to do with block chain, what do you do?
Solofo: Okay, unlike your average startups we Ghana take care of real life with DizzitUp. By the way, DizzitUp is never company but the name of a service in Ghana. We’ll rollout beginning of next year will be different where we are working on that it’s gonna be shorter, it’s gonna be a more African name but it’s won’t be DigitUp.
In fact, DizzitUp I would say a carbon-free electricity and digital infrastructure service provider for the emerging market for Africa mainly and Southeast Asia. You know why? in fact, if you look at the word it is two regions, two continents Africans and Southeast Asia. They do suffer for a very very bad electricity infrastructure. If you look at Africa, just Africa we’re about fifty percent African people six hundred million people they don’t have access to the electricity. You could not imagine that.
Joe: For everybody who doesn’t know what six hundred million is like, it’s more people than live in the whole the European Union.
Solofo: Yeah, Europe is about five hundred and twenty.
Joe: Yeah, It’s below 600 so it’s a whole European Union plus Germegian.
Joe: Okay, now we got a house number okay go ahead.
Solofo: So, even if you don’t have electricity because they’re not poor not all Ghana live in rural part but even for people living in the big city in a suburb for big cities like Nairobi, like Lagos, like Dhaka, their house might be not connected to the network. That’s the first point, the second point is that sometimes they could not afford to buy the access to electricity. We do live in Europe or in states I don’t know you’ve got a lot of our people looking but electricity for us is a given, we don’t think about this, we move everywhere, we sell our house, we go take another house, and the day we get in the house we got electricity it’s not a problem, in Africa it is.
Joe: I see. And that’s why your company is working?
Solofo: Yeah. We’ve been working on that for one year right now and in fact, we’re gonna roll out something very very innovative because we just fought beyond the electricity problem. In fact, we gonna provide these people a solar-based electricity first, local production in-house, and on top of that we’re gonna lay out a very innovative network, even cloud computing infrastructure we’re gonna help these people to get into the market that we know right now which mean to run business, have internet access, even running applications, and all of that stuff. So, to kind of provide them a way to leapfrog to go from the electricity nightmare to the knowledge and digital economy.
Joe: And how do you do that? now, imagine you have some house somewhere in, for example, Madagascar it’s off the grid how do you get solar electricity there?
Solofo: Okay, in fact, we’ve got two markets; one is what we call the off-grid market and the second one is on-grid. Off-grid means that they don’t have a connection to the network you might have a nice house but you don’t have a link to the network. For these people, we will ship inside the house a smart battery linked to a solar PV but it’s the smart battery that’s gonna provide the electricity, and the Internet access, and everything for running application on top. That’s the first market, the second market is people for on-grid one it’s a bit tricky, it’s for people who are wealthy enough, they have a nice house, they are connected to the network, but they do suffer from what we call outrage in Africa which means that you pay 30 euros per month for having electricity but every day you got two hours, three hours’ outage no electricity. Yeah, it sucks your appliance, your fridge, your TV, and all that. So, today the only way for these people is to buy full diesel power generator that you put nearby your house which is nasty.
Joe: And every time you have an outage you have to get out start your diesel engine.
Solofo: It is very noisy, it smells, and it’s not really climate friendly.
Joe: Yeah, I get that one.
Solofo: So, we like the off-grid we’re developing systems but we’ll take over your existing networks in case of failure. It’s real-time takeover systems again, a smart battery with a solar PV but with a smart very intelligent inside. It’s like the Tesla power wall but the system from Tesla is very expensive it’s about 12 key diaries plus tax.
Joe: Diaries is still a local currency?
Solofo: No. I’m speaking about the US market but Tesla today is providing the battery system but it’s for the US market. What we are developing is something smaller but cop with the environment in Africa and smarter which means that we have a kind of a selective backup system in case of failure. All of that are linked together that’s gonna help us to provide digital services on top.
Joe: That is pretty cool. We will have for everybody who’s watching this go down here in the show notes we have a link, are you on LinkedIn?
Solofo: Yeah, I’m on LinkedIn I have a video as well and a presentation.
Joe: We have a link to your LinkedIn profile, people can reach out there as well as a link to your website.
Solofo: Yeah. Don’t you want to speak about the blockchain part of a project because we spend a lot of time on the infrastructure which is important?
Joe: Sure, go ahead.
Solofo: Okay, so once we’ve got it into whatsoever project is very ambitious because we are not only doing the infrastructure but we’re gonna have a signal layer which is a blockchain infrastructure that could help us to recruit people to finance the projects. For example, we’re gonna launch the security token offering for financing the project, it’s a project about 400 million dollars for five years. So, if you are in the States, if you’re in Europe, if you are in Africa, if you are in Asia, you could buy a piece of an asset that we have. Because it’s a security token you’re gonna have dividend and your token will be liquid and it’s completely different from the traditional license that they used to have. that’s why are you got to use blockchain.
Joe: But you have to have it there as in terms of financing so you don’t necessarily need it to run your company; you have it as a means of pre-financing it to get it a kick start.
Solofo: Yeah, the strategy is we’re gonna have two rounds. The first round is traditional fundraising; we are in this process right now we are raising 3.5 million euros that’s about 4 million dollars directly to VCs. There will be shareholders of a company, the only shareholders of a company and then every year we launch this security token offering for people all over the world. They could finance their project and get a return from dividend with day one as well because they will be part of a company as well. That’s the way we do that so one; traditional fundraising and second crypto-based security token offering in a regulated country. That’s it, as simple as that.
Joe: Officially that’s it. Okay, nothing I have forgotten everything’s fine?
Solofo: life is fine, life is fine.
Joe: Very good last word thank you very much it was a pleasure.
Solofo: Thank you.
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