TechInAfrica – Meet Moses Olafenwa, the DeepQuest AI founder – DeepStack is an AI server you can easily install, use completely offline or on the cloud for Face Recognition, Object Detection, Scene Recognition and Custom Recognition APIs to build business and industrial applications.
First of all, can you pitch us your company in just a few sentences ?
DeepQuest AI is a company that specialize in build AI Platforms that works entirely offline, without connecting to third party cloud servers, thereby saving 98% of API costs, eradicates problems of network latency and ensures 100% data privacy.
Can you tell us more about yourself, your personal background, your experience and how you went to this journey ?
I am Moses Olafenwa, the CEO and Co-founder of DeepQuest AI. I am a Computer Vision Engineer and Artificial Intelligence Expert. I am also an experienced computer programmer with over 7 years experience in major programming languages like Java, Python, C# and technologies like web, mobile, desktop and cloud. My journey into the world of Artificial Intelligence began in late 2017.
Can you tell us more about Nigeria ? Why this market ?
Nigeria is a country with many human and natural resources. There has been tremendous increase in the infusion of digital technology into the economy with the young population readily taking the challenge to be part of and contribute to the emerging tech trends. Artificial Intelligence on the other hand is still in infancy stage in Nigeria, but with the momentum being gathered since the past 1 year, AI should become a major player in the economy in 2 years.
What are the main issues you have been facing Nigeria ?
For our firm that works primarily on deep tech like AI, it is hard to find the talents with the skillset the technology needs. Also, most industry and business stakeholders have limited understanding of the potentials AI has. Therefore, it takes a lot more effort to convince these stakeholders of the need to prioritize AI and invest heavily in it.
Who are your main competitors around? And outside of the country, who are your inspiration?
Interestingly, almost every major player out there in the business of providing AI APIs on the cloud are our competitors, most especially the tech giants. What differentiates our platforms and solutions is that it offers AI with very low cost options, simple to setup, independently controlled and ensures 100% privacy; a combination no other major player offers out there. Our team is inspired by the front-runners in the global community of AI researchers a well as companies like NVIDIA whose dominance in the AI and Computing market is driven by continuous delivery of innovation and value.
What is your point of view, as a startup founder, about Nigeria ?
The Nigerian population is made up of so many brilliant minds that can build technologies and solutions that will compete favorably in the global scene, enough for us to start exporting technology as a nation. However, the environment and government policies are not helpful and despite the natural resources the country has, the most important tech programs in Nigeria are by foreign entities. Nigeria may continue to lose its most valuable assets, the youths, until steps are taking to invest in technology for long term results. There is need to invest in future technologies like AI that spans beyond short term and immediate returns.
Is it hard to find investors there?
Finding investors isn’t much of a problem in Nigeria, but finding the right investor is a major problem, especially for those building in deep tech. Most investors are very particular about the immediate business value your solution has. Most of the time, they fail to see the potential impact your solution has, which was and still is the driving force for tech firms that become giants today.
What do you think is lacking to Nigeria to develop it more? What are the main barriers to develop a startup there?
Nigeria is lacking critical infrastructure such as power, reliable and affordable internet connectivity. Secondly, the educational and vocational system in Nigeria is too focused on legacy technologies that are years behind the current trend. Also, there aren’t enough programs, incentives and sponsorships for innovations and ideas that are critical to technological and economic growth. Startups generally lack the financial, advisory and infrastructural resources they need to bring their ideas to reality.
What is your perspective for the next years on Nigeria and more regionally on Africa?
The world is becoming a more connected global ecosystem and so far, Nigeria and most of sub-Saharan Africa have been striving a lot to be part of this technology shift. In a couple of years, we will start seeing first of its kind innovations and solutions built in Africa. With this, stakeholders and power players should be able to step in to energize the ecosystem and place the continent on the global technology map.
As you know, we are always on the look of great startups, new products and amazing entrepreneurs, could you name a few locally or regionally in Nigeria ?
One of the most fascinating startups I have seen in Nigeria is Quadron Studios. They produce Disney-level animations and have been developing impressive Virtual Reality solutions for immersive industrial training.