Richard Odjrado is a 32-year-old tech developer from the Republic of Benin. He is the founder and CEO of AS World Tech, which manufactures laptops, smartwatches and smart glasses. He founded the company after he lost his smartphone at a party and could not trace it. He, therefore, built the smartwatch to help anyone trace and recover their lost or stolen phones.
His invented smartwatch, AS Watch V7, works like Apple or Samsung smartwatch, which allows anyone to answer phone calls, text messages or get text messages. According to the tech developer, AS (Asuka Spirit) stands for “warrior, protector, heroic spirit” in the Fongbe language of the Republic of Benin.
“In the global technological universe, where our values and cultures are absent, it gives us our place in the concert of nations. We innovate with technological products that respect Africa, that solve our problems and accompany us in our daily lives,” he told Tech Build Africa.
His smartwatch is cheaper and has more functions than the ones made by big corporations, he said. The smartwatch is water-resistant, helps in checking one’s body temperature and its unique feature helps secure smartphones against theft and neglect.
In other words, when one is about three meters away from their phone, the watch will vibrate and they will get a text message letting them know that they are away from their phone. This means that as long as one is wearing AS Watch, they can no longer forget their phone or lose their phone.
As already mentioned, the AS Watch is not the only product he makes. He also produces laptops and he has given them interesting local names such as Shango 2, Orisha, Shadey, Ogun, and so on, according to the Business Insider. His computers are also great for the environment because one wouldn’t have to throw them away like other brands when they are old. All one needs to do is just upgrade them.
The Beninese entrepreneur also wanted to reduce traffic accidents, so he invented connected glasses which allow people to listen to music and to make calls, he said.
His tech venture has attracted interest from some global brands who are offering him good money for an outright purchase. According to Business Insider, some global tech giants have separately offered him $2 million and $3 million in a bid to buy him out but he turned them down.
Odjrado has been an entrepreneur since age 14. He has been involved in the digital transformation of Africa in both the private and public service for more than five years. He plans to train local engineers in Africa to prove to the rest of the world that the continent has what it takes to compete.
“We will train local engineers in African countries and set up a co-creation process with users in order to have high-level user experiences. The future is in Africa and Africa is us,” he told Tech Build Africa. “Africa can’t do anything without local synergy. That’s why we are all about Shining Together and to do that we need to take action now and together.”
Starting AS World Tech has not been an easy journey for Odjrado. According to him, banks are not willing to support startups like him due to the risk involved.
“We have encountered difficulties at the seed level, in research and development and the biggest difficulty is financial. Banks do not give much interest to startups because of the risks and this is a big break,” he noted.
Odjrado has survived largely because of his drive and persistence which he wants other entrepreneurs who want to be like him to have.
“Be persistent and have a clear vision of the objectives. Do not neglect the fact of being surrounded by a good team that shares the vision of the startup or the company.”