It’s overcast in Accra on a late Wednesday morning. Around the McCarthy Hills, there’s an office building in which the current occupants are doing behind the scenes work for a company called tinyDavid, the makers of the app called SnooCode.
There’s not a lot of furniture in the office building which has been recently moved into. There’s a couple of empty rooms, boxes which haven’t been opened yet but there’s a large room with tinyDavid employees who are sitting behind giant monitors hard at work.
The tinyDavid office uses the power of the sun for its current operations. Located in a corner of the premises are mounted solar panels which are capable of powering the entire office when the sun is out. That means tinyDavid is capable of going “off the grid” in terms of electricity and relying on the sun for 100% of their electric power in the daytime.
I went in for an interview looking to learn more about SnooCode. But I left the McCarthy hills area in awe and amazement at the other projects tinyDavid was working on. Unfortunately, details on those projects cannot be discussed at the moment but when the news breaks, I’m sure the average person will be as amazed as I was.
New Face Of The Franchise
When I got to the office, I met up with Lise Birikundavyi, the current CEO of tinyDavid. Lise has been on the job for the last couple of months but she was already up to par with the on goings at tinyDavid.
Prior to being the CEO at tinyDavid, Lise had worked as part of the investment team with EWB Ventures. She had started her career in the operations team of Innocap Investment Management and completed her MBA at the Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF). Although she doesn’t have a technology background, Lise seemed more than capable of running tinyDavid per my conversations with her.
We talked about the highs and lows of running a startup like tinyDavid, especially in a place like Ghana. When discussing challenges, Lise did state that it could be challenging especially as a startup but she was looking forward to new opportunities with SnooCode as well as the new projects upcoming at tinyDavid.
We were joined later in the conversation by Sesinam “Ses” Dagadu, the founder of tinyDavid. Before he was full time at tinyDavid, Sesinam was working at Ecobank back in 2007. The backstory is that he noticed that he was having trouble with locations in Ghana especially when he was out in the field trying to sign up new clients. He saw that there was a major problem with addressing and locations and so he decided to change that.
He returned to the UK to complete his MEng Engineering with Business Management degree and then started working on a solution to a problem that he observed, not just in Ghana, but in most third world countries. tinyDavid was founded in 2011 and subsequently birthed SnooCode in 2014.
Per conversations with Ses, he has a grand vision for what he wants to do with tinyDavid and SnooCode. He shared some personal projects that he’s working on which were off the record but if those projects were to come to fruition, they could be groundbreaking in Ghana.
More Than Just An App
I had some misconceptions about SnooCode, I have to admit. Firstly, I thought SnooCode was basically a Google Maps alternative and didn’t see the need to even use if I had to find a location in Ghana.
But after conversations with Lise and Sesinam, I realized my misconceptions were misplaced.
So what exactly is a “SnooCode” in the first place? A SnooCODE is a 6 or 7-digit alphanumeric code that acts like a UK post code or a US Zip Code except over 200 x more precise. A SnooCODE like COF-K8D can locate a house to within less than 7 metres. The beauty of a platform like SnooCode, is that it can operate online or offline.
When asked about monitoring active users on SnooCode, both Lise and Ses emphasized that they take the issue of privacy seriously and that they don’t actively monitor user activity on the app. Perhaps, maybe in the future, tinyDavid would be able to get the numbers of active users without infringing on privacy. At the moment, SnooCode has more than 15,000 + downloads on both Google Play Store and iOS store.
So, to be clear, SnooCode is not competing with Google Maps, Here Maps or any other mapping application. What SnooCode intends to be, is the de facto digital addressing system which not only Ghana needs, but also Africa as well.
It’s easy to locate a building like the National Theatre on Google Maps. But what about the cool food joint in the corner which serves some of the best food that your friends talk about?
Of course, your friends can easily WhatsApp the location or drop a pin on Google map and send you the location. But SnooCode makes all of it more convenient. Firstly, by giving that food joint a SnooCode, you’ve basically given it an address. That means, if that famed food spot starts doing food delivery, they just need to send the code to someone else for easy location.
SnooCode uses whatever default map application is on your phone to send you the directions. It’s basically killing two birds with one stone:
- It gives a location an address.
- Allows you get the location on your map app.
Mad Scientists and Public Visibility
On my visit to the tinyDavid office, I was given a tour and also shown what future projects tinyDavid is currently working on. Unfortunately, I can’t divulge what was shown to me but all I can say is this: MIND BLOWN.
tinyDavid is currently working on using different technologies to work on some cool concepts and SnooCode will play a vital role in those projects.
The tinyDavid team is currently comprised of ten (10) talented individuals who work in different departments including marketing. Interestingly enough, tinyDavid has full time mathematicans on staff.
Yes. Mathematicians. Not the accounting or financing type. But mathematicians who crunch numbers to make sure SnooCode works as accurate as possible.
tinyDavid haven’t done a lot of mass marketing with SnooCode. You’re not going to see giant billboards showcasing the SnooCode app. SnooCode has made its name by word of mouth, some public interviews, and the introduction of some products like SnooCodeRed where ambulances can use SnooCode to drive to locations which may not appear on regular maps. But this year, they’re going to be a bit more visible.
SnooCode is partnering with Chale Wote 2017 this year to help festival goers find certain places and events on the map using SnooCode.
SnooCode may not be a brand name among many people but they have been getting recognition regardless. They’ve won awards, been runners up and received recognition from the likes of Coca Cola, British Counsel and Vodafone for the work that they’ve done.
But they will be going bigger and looking beyond Ghana as they try to establish themselves as a digital address system for other places beyond the Ghanaian border.
The Next Big Thing
Before I left the tinyDavid office, Sesinam and I talked about what the future looks like. He has plans for other things with SnooCode which were off the record. But there’s definitely some prospects he’s looking at which sounded groundbreaking but will require some major work.
Overall, tinyDavid is a good position. They have a new office in a great spot at McCarthy Hills. Their new CEO Lise Birikundavyi is a great fit and with her expertise, seems more than capable of taking tinyDavid to the next level. Sesinam Dagadu is busy focusing on the next big thing at tinyDavid and will eventually reveal upcoming projects which I’m unable to speak about at the moment.
Before I set off on my way home to write this piece, I asked Sesinam about what the full meaning of SnooCode stood for. He smiled and jokingly said he couldn’t reveal that. But he did tell me what the full meaning of SnooCode was.
It wasn’t off the record, but the full name “SNOO” is kind of complicated. I say we stick with the name “SnooCode” for now.
Updated: Article has been updated to state that Lise Birikundavyi worked at EWB Ventures prior to her role at CEO at tinyDavid. The article has also been corrected to show that SnooCode has been downloaded more than 10,000+ on both the iOS and Google Playstore.
Joseph-Albert Kuuire is the creator and editor of TechNovaGh.com, an online digital platform focusing on technology in Ghana.
I’m also a UX Designer, book reader, and tech enthusiast (duh!)
Email: [email protected]