What prompted you to launch Omniolytics?
Omniolytics(*) was launched in 2017, however, the idea was born in 2006 whilst I worked for the leading mobile operator in South Africa, Vodacom. Inspired by both the Vodacom story and having had a turbulent upbringing in a country rife with inequality and segregation, I always wanted to build a legacy depicting change and creating equal opportunities.
I identified four crucial pillars: 1) driving innovation 2) independent, agile business 3) creating fair opportunities, and 4) having a gateway to the developed economies.
After working in London for 10 years, I returned to South Africa to launch Omniolytics. Agriculture was very appealing I could help address far-reaching challenges in South Africa and the rest of Africa. There was also a direct alignment between agricultural production processes, their value chains, and technologies including IoT, machine learning, and Blockchain.
What problem(s) are you solving?
We currently focus on poultry production. Chicken is the cheapest form of animal protein with consumption rates exceeding all other meat types globally. Production processes heavily rely on manual record-keeping and individual expertise. Large commercial producers dominate the market with vertically integrated value chains and strict standards requirements. Thus there are high barriers to entry for emerging commercial producers lacking expertise and a need for the adoption of standards, market access, ability to scale and raise finance.
OmnioFarm monitors and guides producers in adopting prescribed production practices in real-time using a digital, cloud platform. This benefits emerging farmers as they can adopt the standards required to participate in the commercial value chain and reduce their risk in scaling operations. Large producers benefit from the ability to benchmark standards across their farms and facilities and reduce their risks when introducing emerging farmers and contract growers into their operations. Furthermore, detailed production profiles feed into optimizing processes and contribute to stakeholder engagement across the poultry value chain.
What is next for Omniolytics?
We are currently piloting our flagship product, Local Insights, on a commercial broiler farm with whom we have a longstanding relationship. They are also influential in the sector. During this process, we have identified required improvements and changes.
Next, we would like to expand our market validation, where we have received interest from commercial producers, public sector agencies, and academia to participate. We aim at commercially launching in mid-2022 and have identified VCs interested in further discussions. We will then also seek to conclude a global partnership with IBM, which has invested in Omniolytics.
Which are your products?
For our foundation product, Data Viz, the primary purpose is to digitally capture and visualize production facility conditions, production data, and activities in real-time. We use IoT and a custom-built web app.
Our flagship product, Local Insights, provides context and insights to the digitized data by analyzing processes, performance, and threats.
In late 2022, we will start development on Global Insights, which aims to improve stakeholder engagement and optimize processes across the poultry value chain.
What is your business model?
Customers pay a subscription fee to access the OmnioFarm products. Our foundation product, Data Viz, is a prerequisite and will include sensors, which could either be purchased upfront, or we will look to partner with a financial institution to spread the costs across the contract term. We will add a minimum profit margin and aim to reduce the sensor’s costs passed on to customers to increase uptake.
Local Insights is our key revenue driver, also charged on a subscription basis. We aim to include all features through our web app.
As part of Global Insights, we will expose APIs via a marketplace where specific features can be consumed on a revenue-sharing basis.
What is Omniolytics’ current greatest challenge?
At this point, raising capital in South Africa. We want to launch here as the challenges are compelling and we would like to use this base to maximize expansion opportunities in Africa. Another challenge is attracting the best talent on a permanent basis without adequate capital resources. Raising early-stage, pre-revenue capital through VCs is very difficult in SA as they want to engage at a point once traction has been realized.
Are you satisfied with your rate of progress?
We would have wanted to have already commercially launched at this point, thus not entirely satisfied.
We do need to recognize a few achievements in having secured seed investment through IBM and having worked with the leading scientific research council in Africa (the CSIR) in developing Local Insights and with the University of Hertfordshire (UK) in sensor development.
We have invested quite a bit of time and effort building relationships with key poultry sector and technology stakeholders and now want to capitalize on this, go to market and accelerate our growth
“Begin with the end in mind”Stephen R. Covey
(*) I am an investor.