About two months after winning 1 million naira at the AkureTechHub pitch competition, TREP Labs are riding on the waves towards delivering hardware solutions to improve productivity in and around Africa.
The prototype company engages in an iterative approach to solving problems for clients; Test, Refine, Evaluate and Prototype (TREP—Now you see where the name of the company comes from).
In a chat with Zumalo.com, Co-founder of the company, Abiola Alayande shares his thoughts about the way forward and the need for more hardware engineers from Africa who can develop world-class solutions that can be integrated to improve and scale-up operations of the infrastructures on the continent.
What is the focus of the company…
At TREP Labs we are greatly concerned about improving productivity; hence our focus is on tools that can increase efficiency in Operations. Our operation is divided into 3; LabAfrique—a training lab that is focused on training and building the future workforce of Africa with focus on Hardware technology, Afrigarage—an innovation lab for building indigenous solutions for African problems leveraging technology and the AfrimakersHub—a hybrid of fixed and mobile hubs with tools where small hardware startups can bud into an amazing ecosystem. The aim is to provide tools, technical know-how and connection to build a thriving community.
What does a production process look like?
First, we are a prototype company.
When you tell us a problem as a client, we conceive the best possible solution. And then we engage in a planning process on how we are going to go about it, then the next step is the actual building with several test stages to iterations and then a launch—This is after it has been TREPpped; tested, refined, evaluated and prototyped.
If TREP was a person, what would the person look like?
I would say we are customer-centric. We uniquely tailor our solutions to bring relevance to our clients. The team is structured to include Hackers—Can build complex algorithms within the shortest possible time, Makers—Can tinker with electronics and create stuff by piecing different elements together and hustlers—you can see problems, identify perspectives and handle on-the-street conversations on how to solve problems.
Can you share some of the revenue generating operations at the lab?
Our courses cost as low as $10 for the training and there is also a membership subscription fee for the makers’ lab. We also run a platform where people pay to use our innovation labs and we generate revenue from sales of hardware kits and other products from the innovation lab. The plan is to scale to provide a composite—offline & online retail outlet for hardware services and democratize access to hardware skills.
Interestingly, TREP labs is just over two months old and they have worked with a whole lot of other tech brands in and around the country. So, when I asked what the next direction for the company was, considering the fact that they just won about a million naira with an opportunity to enjoy an acceleration programme at the AkureTechHub, he explains…
The winning has strengthened our belief in the fact that people have a lot of anticipation for the African hardware ecosystem. The experience has also affected the growth of some our plans and not forgetting that the cash reward will help us scale faster.
Our plan for the Next five years is to train leading Students in Technological Organizations across Africa—the GenerationNext that will develop Africa with the prerequisite hardware skills to improve and maximize the evolving infrastructure on the continent. The plan is to evolve and function as a brand that is compliant with latest and contemporary technology – Taofeek Olalekan (Co-founder, TREP Labs)
As the team prepares to launch some of its products tailored to health solutions in the next few months, the spotlight will be on TREP as the team works to ensure that Africa adequately participates in the digital revolution.