Jared Shittu, a tech entrepreneur, has developed INVIVOservices Inc – a US-based start-up owned and run from Nigeria, to provide live translation applications using API for online audio and video conferences.
Jared and Victory Oyekpen – his co-founder were inspired to establish INVIVOservices Inc out of their personal experiences while working remotely during the initial lockdown to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Out of our frustrating personal experiences with language differences while working remotely when we were trying to do business last year prompted us to establish INVIVOservices Inc,” Jared says.
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“We wanted to change that for others as the pandemic had accelerated the use of online audio and video,” Jared further says.
“We started INVIVOservices Inc and are currently developing our flagship product – Baabell, because we have a strong belief that by helping people connect faster across language differences,” he adds.
The young entrepreneur tells Start-Up Digest that his business started with no initial start-up capital.
“We started with a free landing page on strikingly.com,” he notes.
He says the business applied to competitions and accelerator programmes to access grants and mentorship to scale.
He states that the business has grown since kick-starting operations in September 2020 and was able to gain traffic of over 300 pre-order requests within its first fifty days.
The young entrepreneur adds that with the support from family and friends who believed in their vision, they were able to raise and sustain sizable capital for the business.
Currently, INVIVOservices Inc has five full-time employees from different geographies.
He notes that the business plans to increase its staff strength to 15 and continue to increase its commitment towards gender mainstreaming in the short run.
In the long run, he says the business plans to become developers, content creators, sales, and business professional’s favourite digital microphones when using digital audio and video platforms.
“We hope to grow into an employee engagement and automated performance management platform for digital entrepreneurs and small businesses across the globe that have employees working remotely or hybrid,” he says.
“This means building a larger infrastructure and switching to a B2B model,” he explains.
Speaking on its flagship products – Baabell, Jared says it helps small businesses adapt to the ‘new normal’ by providing high-quality user experiences that reduce the friction of communicating on a professional level even across language barriers.
“With Baabell, SMBs can now offer their online audio contents and customer support in multiple languages without extra costs or workforce,” he says.
According to him, INVIVOservices Inc recently raised an undisclosed sum and emerged as a top female-led AI startup in the EMEA region after joining NVIDIA Inception.
On challenges confronting the business, he says the biggest challenge that confronted the business was running a US-based business from Nigeria.
“One of the hardest parts about building our company has been the fact that we were outsiders trying to get into the ‘cool kids club’,” he says.
“It was difficult as immigrants and black digital entrepreneurs running a U.S based company from Nigeria,” he further says.
“When it came to attracting talent, advisors, market-entry, and investment, we had to forge our path from the get-go and do things our way to build a team and product we would be proud of,” he explains.
Evaluating the tech ecosystem in Nigeria, he notes that the industry is the country’s new oil but poor laws and policies have limited the industry growth.
He states that Nigeria’s tech industry is among the top in Africa with the most number of start-ups businesses in the ecosystem and 3 unicorn businesses.
On his advice to other entrepreneurs, “At your early stages, sell your vision, build an army/tribe, enlist mentors, raise money with SAFEs or convertible notes, iterate on your product fast and surpass your milestones with every raise.”
“The notion that people could steal your idea is something you should get rid of. Ask for help and talk about what you are doing,” he advises.