A response to Sesinam's assertion that Vokacom adopted the SnooCode idea for its Digital Addressing Solution

A response to Sesinam's assertion that Vokacom adopted the SnooCode idea for its Digital Addressing Solution

Our attention has been drawn to some statements that have been made by Sessinam of SnooCode per above subject and we write to respond to the issues raised.

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A response to Sesinam's assertion that Vokacom adopted the SnooCode idea for its Digital Addressing Solution

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1. Innohub Accelerator and Innohub offering SnooCode $10k for 15%

The Innohub Accelerator Program works with Small and Growing Businesses to become sustainable, scalable and investment ready through a structured business development support and pre-seed package.

In March 2016, Innohub made an open call for applications for the Innohub Accelerator Program. It was openly stated that the program was structured at $10k investment for 15% equity. This obviously put off a number of ventures from applying but it was important to make that disclosure to ensure the alignment of expectations. All applicants therefore were aware and indeed Innohub kept confirming with applicants if this was well understood and acceptable.

The application process went through 2 stages: online application and investment pitches by shortlisted applicant to a panel. The online applications were screened internally by Innohub. The investment panel was made up of reps from the program investors (Vokacom) and Innohub advisory board members.

SnooCode applied to the program and was shortlisted to pitch to the investment panel. During his pitch, the panel enquired from Ses why a startup like SnooCode's that obviously needed a huge cash investment would apply for $10k knowing fully well that it required a 15% equity stake. In response, Ses indicated that the key objective for SnooCode was the business development support element and not the size of the investment. There was no point in the pitch presentation that technical issues were discussed. Ses may want to share the pitch deck for your perusal.

At the investment pitch, SnooCode also indicated that the Accelerator sessions would be attended by its marketing lead (Michael from GIMPA) who was present with Ses. He can independently confirm what was discussed.

The panel was also concerned that SnooCode had no business structures beyond the founder, and that it was simply an App without any commercial viability. Ses responded again that Micheal, through the assistance on the program, would be tasked to fix that.

SnooCode was subsequently notified of its admission into the program and attended the launch event. At no point did Innohub plead with SnooCode to attend the launch as is being falsely alleged.

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SnooCode also never attended any of the Accelerator sessions after the launch. Neither Ses nor Michael for that matter.

It is therefore surprising that Sessinam presents his 'facts' as though Snoocode was not aware of the program equity requirements for investment before applying to the Accelerator Program. It is quite disingenuous how he states "they offered $10k for 15%". This level of dishonesty must stop.

2. Vokacom interest in SnooCode

Following the investment pitch and the launch, Vokacom expressed is desire to directly invest in SnooCode which we found positive as from our earlier assertion, a startup with SnooCode's traction had a bigger funding requirement than that offered by the accelerator program.

This was communicated to Ses and an investor meeting was set up after the launch of the Accelerator between him and Vokacom in the presence of Innohub.

At this meeting Vokacom indicated that the interest in SnooCode was because it could complement a solution they were also developing.

Ses responded to Vokacom's interest that he currently had a financier in the UK and therefore needed permission before proceeding with any negotiations.

Once again, technical issues were not discussed at this meeting which was brief and focused on negotiating an investment deal in principle.

Sessinam later reverted to the Vokacom team that an initial due diligence conducted by his investors on Vokacom could not find much information on the company hence SnooCode could not proceed with the investment discussions.

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The assertion that Vokacom mentioned the national digital addressing project would be given to it to implement is a blatant lie and the Vokacom team will be duly notified.

3. The relationship between Innohub and Vokacom/2.0

Vokacom invested in Innohub through its investment arm 2.0. This investment included a commitment to invest $50k annually in the Innohub’s Accelerator Program.

This relationship has never been a secret and any partner of Innohub is made aware of the fact that Innohub is sponsored by a local corporate.

The launch of the Accelerator highlighted this and the Vokacom team was very much a part of the launch where they explained their motivation for backing Innohub to support starts up and SMEs. The CEO of Vokacom was one of the three speakers at the launch of the Accelerator Program and I clearly remember one of his statements that "start-ups should avoid the risk of being made celebrities when they had no substance”, and that “you are either making money or making noise”. He added that although their annual revenue was $10m, he or his company is hardly known by anyone because he chooses to focus on building the business rather than falling for hype, and that is what we need to learn from. Not so surprised that some “experts” on Facebook say Vokacom is a 2017 company.

4. AsaaseGPS and Ghana Post bid

Vokacom originally built the core or what is AsaaseGPS and now GhanaPostGPS for internal use. This platform was based on earlier geolocation subcontracting work the company had done for CMS Supatrak in the UK back between 2007- 2010. This work entailed helping the cities of Oxford and Birmingham track council vehicles such buses and dumpsters and mapping out 2 square Metre Points of Interest on maps to indicate where Bins and Bus stops were.

When the government announced that a committee had been setup for the implementation of the digital addressing solution, Vokacom requested that Innohub supports it with strategic consulting to enable it put in a winning bid for it's in-house solution.

We advised Vokacom to give the SnooCode deal another shot and synergize to have a stronger bid as two local IT firms who have the solution. Our advice was based especially on what we thought to be the skill sets of Ses, rather than the app. Vokacom therefore gave Innobub permission to make a follow-up on the earlier negotiations with SnooCode. Ses however indicated a potential valuation range in the millions of Pounds which effectively ended Vokacom's interest in synergising with SnooCode.

Other strategic options that fell through was a joint partnership with What3Words which eventually opted to partner with Harley Reed to put in a bid as well.

The team then reverted to the original option of bidding alone with its in-house solution. That was when a strategic decision was made to make the solution public as AsaaseGPS hence the app being launch this year in the Android and iOS stores.

A consortium was also formed with the Dentsu Aegis Network, a marketing and communications powerhouse which includes Insel. This is the company behind the MTN Mobile Money campaign, TiGo drop that yam campaign, etc. Vokacom served as the lead and technology partner. This partnership was very key as a scan of the EOI pointed to a project with a heavy marketing and public information component.

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The tender process itself involved over 20 companies including SnooCode with 6 being shortlisted. The 6 also included What3Words (Harley Reed) and Subah (Melchia).

A lot of work has gone into putting in a winning bid. It is sad that because of so much noise in the startup ecosystem an 'elite class' has been created and serious companies that decide to keep their work quiet are deemed as newcomers and outsiders. There are a number of very quiet Ghanaian Tech companies building amazing global solutions but they avoid all the hype. Building sustainable and profitable businesses surely goes beyond social media hype and engineered. As Nana Osei Afrifa famously said “you are either making money or making noise”, and at Innohub, we believe in businesses making the right mix of impacts and profit so let's do it.

Nelson Amo

CEO, Innohub Limited

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Source: YEN.com.gh

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