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Meet the Africans behind Ocular AI: The startup making history at Y Combinator

Silicon Valley startup Ocular AI, founded by a Zambian and Zimbabwean software engineer duo, has been selected for the Y Combinator Winter 2024 batch.

Meet the Africans behind Ocular AI: The startup making history at Y Combinator
Ocular AI co-founders; Michael Moyo and Louis Murerwa

Y Combinator has accepted Ocular AI, a Silicon Valley-based startup, into its winter 2024 batch. The startup offers a platform that allows users to search, visualise, and take action on their work and engineering tools and data in one unified platform. 

Founded in 2024, Ocular AI brings together the expertise of Micheal Moyo (CEO), a Zambian with Microsoft experience, and Louis Murerwa, a Zimbabwean software engineer previously at Google.

While Murerwa highlights being one of the first Zimbabweans accepted into Y Combinator, Ocular AI's current market focus remains unclear.

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We define African startups by their primary market impact (in terms of operations or revenue), not just founder origin or HQ.

Take Calendly for instance, the founder, Tope Awotona is of Nigerian descent, the product is also used in Africa. However, it is not an African-focused company, which is why it is not counted as an African unicorn.

According to Moyo, "Ocular AI is born out of a vision to revolutionize how teams interact with their work, engineering tools and data. Having worked at Microsoft and Google, Louis and I experienced first-hand the complexities of navigating information access, data, and tool discovery across multiple SaaS tools both in the general workplace and engineering."

Around 2017/2018, their dreams took flight as Moyo and Murerwa landed in Boston with full scholarships to Dartmouth College. There, Moyo delved into the world of Biomedical & Computer Engineering, while Murerwa pursued a degree in Computer Science. And that's where their paths crossed.

Leveraging his undergraduate internships at both Novartis and Microsoft, Moyo landed a coveted software engineering position at Microsoft after graduation. Driven by a passion for social impact, he established The MentalLiberty Foundation, a Lusaka-based organisation that, through secured grants of over $15,000, strives to eradicate mental healthcare disparities in Zambia. He also founded two startups Ipahive, a Zambian fintech empowering African businesses through APIs and SME financing solutions and Qurre Health.

"Having worked at Microsoft and Google, Louis and I experienced first-hand the complexities of navigating information access, data, and tool discovery across multiple SaaS tools both in the general workplace and engineering," Moyo said.

Two Google internships provided Murerwa with invaluable experience in large-scale software development. Thereafter, he landed a full-time software engineering position, where he worked for two years. In January 2024, he embarked on a new chapter, leaving New York where he worked at Google for San Francisco.

"My co-founder and I started Ocular AI with a vision to revolutionise how teams interact with their work, engineering tools and data. At Google and Microsoft, it was very difficult to know what was happening, when, where and how it affected other teams," Murerwa stated in a LinkedIn post.

While still in its early days, Ocular AI is aiming to revolutionise workplace efficiency by streamlining access to information and automating tasks. Their platform consolidates a company's existing software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, cloud infrastructure, tools, dashboards, and data into a single, unified platform. This integration leverages AI to facilitate "generative knowledge discovery," enabling users to easily search, visualise, and extract insights from their data.

Related Article: Y Combinator backs only three African startups for 2024 winter batch

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