By Laurie Laker ’12
Placing third in this year’s Big Idea competition seems to have been just the beginning for Ogugu, the business analytics platform developed by Colorado College students Harvey Kadyanji ’18, John Roy Ballossini Dommett ’18, and Niyanta Khatri ’17, as well as Brian Biamah of the University of Oklahoma.
Seeking to empower micro-enterprises in Tanzania, Ogugu is a human-centered platform that helps improve businesses’ inventory management, allowing them to create more immediate, positive change across the technology and business sectors. Expanding the platform across multiple national markets is the ultimate goal, but for now the Tanzanian market serves as both a launching pad and testing ground.
In late March, following their third-place award of $10,000 from the Big Idea, the Ogugu team found that they had been selected to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative University’s (CGI U) annual meeting this October, at Northeastern University in Boston.
“The Big Idea gave us the validation of our idea, which started as a project for my computer science class in Block 2,” says Kadyanji. “The CC community helped us kick-start and test the idea and give us the confidence to push us to the next level. Our participation in the CGI U would have been impossible without the Big Idea.”
Former President Bill Clinton launched the CGI U in 2007, bringing together the next generation of leaders at campuses around the world to take action on global challenges. The 10th annual CGI U meeting brings together more than 1,100 innovative and entrepreneurial students from across the country, all making what the CGI calls Commitments to Action across five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty, and public health. As a participant in the CGI U, Ogugu will be able to tap into the entire CGI U network, which fosters partnerships and provides access to more than $750,000 in funding for selected students to turn their ideas into action.
“Acceptance into CGI U is huge for us,” says Dommett. “I still cannot believe that we did it.
“The Big Idea was just a starting point for us. We are hoping to continue to achieve bigger ideas and goals. CGI U provides us with the opportunity for further funding, mentorship, and a huge platform for networking. We hope to get the recognition and growth from CGI U,” he says.
CC’s Big Idea competition, launched in 2012, is a student competition to foster innovation and ideas, culminating in a presentation competition with $50,000 of prize money to launch the winning startups. Judged by prominent entrepreneurs and CC faculty, the competition is in its fifth year and growing every year.
With two members of the Ogugu team being rising seniors, the company is looking to grow and expand in the coming year at CC, utilizing the award money from the Big Idea to improve its mobile platform technologies, broaden consumer and business audiences, and become a flagship of technological and entrepreneurial collaboration.
“The future is exciting, for sure,” says Khatri. “We have a lot of uncertainty to embrace because the market may not respond the way that we’d like, despite having done 6-7 months of research, and pushing out a sales team to get feedback.
"We are optimistic and hoping to learn from whatever happens in the future. Our goal for now is to get 100 businesses up and running with our app by June 1 of this year,” she says.
Kadyanji elaborates further on the ambitions of the fledgling company, saying “We want to create real tech impact across Tanzania, and hopefully all of Africa by 2022!”