Saheed Adepoju, 34, is co-founder and chief visionary of the Encipher Group, a Nigerian-based technology company that has produced the country’s first tablet computer, ‘Inye’. The word Inye is derived from Nigeria’s Igala language and means ‘Number 1’. Earlier today the Bournemouth University Advanced Computing graduate briefly let me in on his start-up story and spoke about his ambitions for his company.
What inspired your passion for personal computers?
My love affair started back when I was a mere 13 year-old in high school. I was fascinated by computer games. During my school days I met Anibe Agamah, who would later on become my co-founder at Encipher. We shared floppy disk drives with various games, and after our high school leaving exams we both set out to learn computer programming. We learnt how to code in C-language and Assembl. Anibe had a more artistic inclination and his web skills picked up and mapped out a year later. He also went on to study computer science and acquired an Msc in technology management while I ventured into software engineering.
What’s the story behind Encipher Group, and what was the inspiration for the INYE tablet computer?
Encipher was set up originally in the UK as a company which combined both strengths of the founders: Web application development and software development. This was back in June 2008. We actually set up shop when we got our first web application development job. As time went on, we decided to expand into new territories, hence our decision to branch out to making personal computers. The real inspiration for Encipher INYE is the Apple iPad. With the nature of the operating system the iPad had and its portability, we felt we had an entry point within the Nigerian market with a tablet. I had been having a look at the Android OS [operating system] since its launch in 2008 and I felt that a tablet PC running on Android OS with its open nature provided us an opportunity to get Nigerian developers building applications for it and also provided an alternative product for indigenous consumers.
Tell us about your flagship product-the Inye Tablet Computer.
The Inye tablet comes in 2 specs: INYE-1 was unveiled April 2010 and is a 7-inch resistive screen tablet. It runs android 2.1 and allows a user to connect to the internet using its inbuilt WIFI card and allows a user to also use an external 3G modem from GSM networks. It offers about 3hrs of battery life and allows HDMI output to HDMI capable devices (e.g. TV). It also allows a user to plug USB devices such as external flash drives and keyboards.
INYE-2, which was unveiled in May 2011, is an 8-inch capacitive screen tablet. It runs Android 2.2 and allows a user to connect to the internet using its inbuilt Wi-Fi card as well as using inbuilt SIM [card]. It offers about 8 hours of battery life. It also offers connection to other USB devices such as external flash drives, keyboard and mouse.
The comparative advantage to the iPad and Playbook is the nature of [operating system] our devices run. The Android OS is seen to be the fastest growing platform currently within the mobile space. The open nature of the OS allows third party developers to build relevant applications for vertical markets which are still relatively untapped at the moment.
How much do your tablets cost, and how many tablets have you sold so far?
Our tablets cost upward of $200 and we have sold close to 100 units of INYE-1. INYE-2 is yet to go into full production. Once we can clinch a funding deal, we will commence sales.
What are your future plans for the Encipher Group?
We are currently building applications for vertical markets as we believe strongly that the next scramble would be in this space for tablets. We are also working on Encipher TV, which is a setup box to allow broadcast of locally inclined programs over the internet.
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[pi_wiloke_quote quote=”To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” author=”Thomas A. Edison”]