INTERVIEW: Luminous Empire, A startup company working to bring the best of Electronics from Nigeria to Nigerians and the world at large
Luminous Empire is an Engineering Startup run by three student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. They talked to the Frillxtra Team about the company and the challenges of running it.
Frillxtra: Tell us about yourselves?
Opeyemi: My name is Ajadi Opeyemi Samuel, the CEO of Luminous Empire and with me are my personal assistants Okelola Steven Oluwadamilare and Ajadi Toluwani.
Luminous Empire is a Startup which started about 4 years ago. We are interested in the re-creation and inventions of electronics and training people in our field of knowledge and research.
In our short existence, we have been able to design a few things from scratch and won a couple of design competitions - under the hood and out in the open if I may add.
Frillxtra: Entice us with a few things you've designed
Opeyemi: We once designed remote controlled a remote controlled extension where we could control each port in 4 days. i.e you can turn off your cookers switch from the sitting room when the alarm goes off in the kitchen. Aside being a very interesting design, the time cap made it an almost impossible feat at the time - especially for a Nigerian.
The icing on the cake was the fact that the design was made to absorb the Nigerian Erratic Power situation. It could deal with low currents and sustain well in abnormally high currents.
We have also designed Passworded door systems that could be opened with RFI (Radio Frequency Identification), Regina Scans, Key swipes etc. It was also equipped with the ability to inform the house owner if suspectable movements were recorded around the house.
We had a Switchless house dream which we made come through by creating a device that could control all the electronic devices in the house . It could turn security light as darkness covers.
Frillxtra: These things are available Across the world, why is your design different?
Opeyemi: That's a serious question. Well, one of the things that makes our design is the fact that it not a copycat design. We believe in the flow of what is in your head through your hands.
I once came up with a self pilot drone system design, that could help people who were involved in an accident. It could bring Hospitals blood supply faster than any means commonly used today. By using preprogrammed radio frequencys in the hospital, the drone could pilot itself to the hospital and avoid obstacles along the way. That is not available anywhere in the world at the moment.
Another very different invention at Luminous Empire is the Car Scanner we designed to be place on highways. It could scan cars for firearms and request for the Gun Licence before alerting ther relevant authorities. It connects to the Gun Database and verifies the Gun to avoid embarrasing stops for people who are legible to own guns.
Frillxtra: That is fabulous, but I think I can beat that with a fast moving car?
Opeyemi: It was actually designed to scan the car as it maneuvers a road bump and In a situation where someone crosses the bump too dangerously. The Road Patrol would be notified to do a simple stop and search. That way we could have stopped the infamous Offa Robbery tha took many lives.
Frillxtra: People do not readily welcome change in this part of the world. What are the ways you intend to mollify people into accepting your design?
Opeyemi: I agree with my mentor when he said, "Growth is slow, Development is fast". We need to proceed slowly. Accepting such these designs is not the major problem at the moment. Making people accept it is more of a feat.
Now to answer your question, we once attempted teaching secondary school students how to design a few things (a remote controlled fan, a temperature controlled fan, signal jammer, SMS triggered bombs, etc). The aim was to create a peak their your minds into the possibilities of technology driven world and create a smooth path into their own inventions. We wrote a textbook that was sold almost at the price it was printed, that will continue to educate them when we are no longer around.
But, we had to stop because the response wasn't promising. So when I finally graduate, I intend to co-author the book with an Indian. A white face always does the job with Nigerians.
Frillxtra: Do you know publishers matter too?
Opeyemi; Yeah, but we weren't able to get a famous publisher. You know, Life is in phases, men are in sizes.
Frillxtra: I remember I didn't want an extra book that needs to be read as a secondary school student. There was enough chemistry and physics already. But there had to be other people that will be interested in the things you have to offer. Do you have Training arrangements in Place for interested applicants from all works of life?
Opeyemi: Yes, we had one themed "Ethics of Programming" where at the end the least we expect you to be able to build is a monotone screen phone. It may be as big a Chivita Pack but it should run its functions seemlessly. The idea was to let you know the basics of Electronics. Passworded door systems, remote switches etc, at the end of the 8 weeks course.
Frillxtra: What are your views of the current societal problems in Nigeria as an Engineer?
Opeyemi: As an Engineer? I was discussing this recently with someone. Many engineering companies have come up in Nigeria and in my relatively short life time, I've seen them die.
Take for example, Two years ago, I designed a Lamp that could last at least 13 hours without reducing the lights intensity. Orders were coming in from various quarters and in the end we had to stop production. There was no staff to handle the design, we didn't have machinery we were fabricating the plastic for packaging ourselves, we spent long tedious hours producing just one and the price is Just One thousand naira above the cost of Materials. And that is what has been affecting Engineering in Nigeria as a whole.
An Electronics importer will not import 3d Printers to be sold in Nigeria because he makes more money when he takes the design abroad for packaging or import electronics that could be locally designed and sell for obscenely tiny amount of money. These imported devices get destroyed by Nigerias power condition.
Another problem in Nigeria is Engineer's don't want to share ideas. They have forgotten that the Greatest success is someone who has a successor. I could remember vividly when I came up with my own Pure sine wave inverter, I went to many engineer to pay to teach me how to make an inverter. They refused because they didn't want me to join them in the market. This attitude is really crippling developments in Nigeria as many foreign companies have various parts of their design done by many other companies.
We also need research institutes to practicalise our crazy ideas. There are none in Nigeria at the moment. I don't know if my personal assistants has something to say.
Steven: Talking about problems. I could remember when my first boss had a chance to travel abroad - South Korea to be precise- for a 6 months engineering training although he was already an electrical engineer by University standards here in Nigeria. He had also finished a 6 years artisanship training in Nigeria before the opportunity came through. He discovered that most of the things they were doing were things he was doing in Nigeria as though he was playing.
The bottom line of the story is that, we do not appreciate the our own products. There is this general believe that a white man's brain more functional than a black man's brain which is totally untrue.
One other things I'd like to touch is something I discovered recently. It was an explanation of "the speed of technology", it states that a new Engineering Syllabus is only valid for two to three years. That is, if a student spends four years in school, by the time he graduates, he has already expired. Now imagine a school like Lautech.
Toluwani: The engineering-education system in Nigeria focuses a little focuses a little too much on theoretical performance. While it is very important, practical trains the mind to know what tools to pick for all forms of problems.
Frillxtra: Now to round it all up, what advices do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Opeyemi: First of all, the concept of entrepreneurship has been misinterpreted a lot recently. I t should be understood as the "exchange of values" and 'values' is not neccessarily money. Youths of this days should focus more on acquiring marketable values that would make the society a better place.
One other thing is, we think we should make all the money off one sale. That is not an economic way of doing business. Selling products at over inflated prices has led to the economic increase in the value of that product in the times past and continues to be the grave of our economic prosperity.
Number two, Pursue your entrepreneurship dreams at an academically friendly pace. Life is in phases, men are in sizes. Don't go beyond your limit, focus on things you can handle perfectly.
Number three, If all you take out of school is your certificate. Excuse me, you have successfully failed. I say that because what awaits us after school is beyond what the result can offer. A wise man will say "it takes attitide to get to the next level, but it takes altitude to stay there". Being a student enterprenuer will go a long way into providing you with that altitude.
Steven: To start with, I'll tell the young ones to "connect with the light houses". No man is an highland. And stability is achieved when young, vibrant and dedicated people join hands to grow.
Frillxtra: Before we continue declare this interview close. Is there any device you built that is available now for sale:
amuel: We are into alternative power. People can place order for inverters and they will be developed for them.
Frillxtra: It was a really hanging out with you guys. We appreciate the time spent together. Before we go, How can our readers reach you?
Frillxtra; So do you have any clossing words?
Opeyemi: I speak for every body on my team when I say we appreciate Frillxtrra.com