Dropifi is a Ghanaian information technology start-up which provides back-end support to companies.
The company has a solid system which enables companies in any part of the world, mostly small and medium-scale enterprises, to install widgets on their personal computers or tablets, so that customers can contact them.
This means that the “Contact us” function will be performed on behalf of the companies by Dropifi, from its offices at East Legon, within the premises of Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology.
In 60 seconds, companies can seamlessly deploy Dropifi’s simple and intuitive contact widget and get real-time enquiries from customers on their websites.
Co-Founders, Mr Kamil Nabong and Philip Effah Mensah, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that messages that passed through its system went through rigorous anti-spam filters before being further processed to uncover the personality and emotions behind the message.
“For instance, the person contacting the company may only provide the email address, but we will go and do further search to lift the veil on the person and make that detailed information available to the company the customer wants to reach,” Mr Nabong said.
Dropifi’s smart widget allows companies to better analyse incoming “contact us” messages.
Using the Dropifi contact widget, companies also see incoming message trending data in relation to industry metrics, the demographic and social media profiles of the sender analyse the real emotions behind the messages and easily integrate with their existing CRMs, e-commerce and blogging platforms.
Ultimately, the programme seeks to clear out the era of long and scary website “contact us” forms that deny businesses of valuable feedback and leads, but will still deliver business critical insights and a spam-free customer engagement.
Since 2011 Dropifi, the graduates of the Ghanaian-based Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), have been making waves in Ghana as well as internationally.
MEST trains smart young entrepreneurs in the area of information and communications technology (ICT).
After their two-year training, the school encourages graduates to group up, develop business plans and form businesses. Bankable viable ones are funded and housed as a modern incubator for startups where they benefit from technical support, hi-speed Internet and funding of between US$70,000 and US$100,000 for 18 months.
Dropifi co-founders, however, peaked during their training and therefore left the MEST after their first six months and spent the rest of the period at the United State’s Silicon Valley, where ICT giants are created.
This was after they had won the Global Startup Open competition where they beat 50 international startups to win the Kauffman Foundation Award; they were flown to Rio in March to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) where they received the award.
Whilst in Rio, they showcased the programme to Dave McClure, Founder of 500 Startups, and shortly after, received an invitation to join the accelerator programme.
“Dropifi is the first African investment for 500 Startups. Very few seed investors in Silicon Valley will put money into markets as early as Africa, but we think talent exists in every corner of the globe. Dropifi has a killer team and a promising product with global reach. The fact that they hail from Ghana makes it even cooler,” Mr Dave McClure was quoted as saying.
In Silicon Valley, they enjoyed mentorship from top industry experts and other colleague startups from around the world to further develop the Dropifi widget and spread its use around the world.
The Meltwater magic
Interestingly, Dropifi is only one of the 12 companies that MEST has facilitated, which in their start-up stages are together employing 80 people.
The Business Development Fellow at MEST Incubator, Mr Anirudh Narla, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that the Incubator offered the most affordable office accommodation in the country.
He said there was so much potential in the country in the ICT sector, but the programme required additional funding from the private sector and direct support from the government.
The director said infrastructure was a challenge, as well as reliable Internet and penetration and smart phone use.
“Most of the companies here require additional funding but they don’t get access to it. Currently, we try to woo investors from UK and US,” Mr Narla said.
Secondly, hiring employees is often a challenge as there were not many talents cut for the industry.
Mr Narla suggested a special venture capital fund to promote ICT training and entrepreneurship in the country as was the case in countries such as the United States and Singapore, where the government had a lot of funding in the sector.
Currently, about 50 per cent of the companies operating in the incubator have apps targeting the local market, while the rest targets the global environment.
On visit at MEST, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Ms Penny Pritzker, interacted with the start-up companies in the incubator in May 18, urged them to work hard and pledged the support of the United States to remove some of the bottlenecks that hindered their efforts at dealing conveniently with US companies.
“This work is extremely important for global growth. We want our youth to start businesses. If we help with startups around the world, we can spur global growth,” she said when she later interacted with a segment of the media in Accra.