The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in the past few years has created growing excitement about its potential to revolutionise entire industries. At its best, AI offers individuals and companies the power to augment human intelligence and automate complex tasks, enabling organisations to operate more efficiently and make data-driven decisions.
This has made many ambitious companies interested in how to leverage AI into their workflow, yet the adoption level is still low. Nine out of ten leading businesses invest in AI technologies, according to a survey, but less than 20% have deployed AI capabilities in their operations.
By 2030, the growth in AI technology has the potential to contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy and as such it has become imperative for more companies to adopt this technology.
ZeroComplex AI simplifies AI integration for businesses by supercharging their current digital infrastructure with AI capabilities via its AI Workflows. Its AI workflows enable businesses to improve their efficiency, lower operating costs, and ultimately increase revenue which drives growth.
The trio are also co-founders of Crenet, a B2B technology consulting and implementation company that builds digital products for enterprise organisations. Crenet’s client roster consists of The Office of The Presidency, Afrexim Bank, Nigerian Bar Association, NIBSS, Vetiva and The Tony Elumelu Foundation amongst others.
An idea over lunch
Sometime in 2023, Olateru, Agoro and Adebayo were discussing over lunch, when the topic of AI came up.
The discussion was centred on how this new technology could help African companies. From the team’s experience building products, they knew integration of AI capabilities would be a likely pain point, so over the next weeks, Olateru and his team went to work on testing their hypothesis.
“The major problem we envisaged was that a lot of businesses were going to have to integrate AI into their existing infrastructure. So we said let’s be that go-to entity,” Olateru told BenDada.com over a call.
“I think Agoro bought the domain during lunch, Sola worked on the landing page which I started showing to our clients who expressed interest.”
An early feedback they got from some clients was the need for a user-friendly interface that offered access to Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which would enable them to easily connect to the various ZeroComplex AI tools and their distinct functionalities.
The team's comprehensive expertise, developed through involvement in a range of significant projects, including the creation of the inaugural tech platform for the Tony Elumelu Foundation's Entrepreneurship Program, the development of a unified dispute resolution system for NIBSS, and the implementation of a Banking-as-a-Service solution for a prominent financial institution, has equipped them with the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully initiate and advance this new venture.
“From our first client we kept listening and refining our offering,” Olateru said. The ZeroComplex AI team settled for a Software as a Service (SaaS) model which allowed them to charge clients based on monthly subscriptions and/or API calls made.
The Pitch2Win Effect
While this was ongoing, someone suggested that the team apply to compete at Pitch2Win – a startup competition run by TechCircle to help early-stage Nigerian firms raise money and grow their businesses.
Initially, Olateru was hesitant but after reconsidering, he applied on behalf of the team.
“I didn’t tell the rest of the team I had applied because I didn’t think much would come out of it until I got a notification that ZeroComplex AI was shortlisted among the top 50 startups,” Olateru said.
ZeroComplex went on to get shortlisted among the top 10 startups and went on to be the second-place winner. This experience provided further validation that they were on the right track and gave them greater visibility to the investors.
Their first investor was one of the pitch coaches assigned to the startup at the Pitch2Win competition.
“We were assigned a coach who was supposed to help us refine our pitch deck for the duration of an hour but that extended to four hours as she kept on pointing out many possibilities,” Olateru said. “The call session ended with her saying that irrespective of what happens at the competition, her VC firm will invest in our startup.”
On the day of the final presentation, Olumide Soyombo, founding partner at Voltron Capital who was one of the judges, reached out to the team at ZeroComplex AI expressing his delight at their idea. This conversation led to investments from Voltron Capital, Henry Kaestner’s Kaleo Ventures, Alpha Gaps, Velocity Digital, and other prestigious angel investors shortly after the competition.
Bolstered by a recently closed pre-seed round and a few product launches in view, Olateru believes that ZeroCompex AI is best positioned to help businesses reduce costs, improve efficiency and revenue.
“We’re excited about the progress made so far but we’re still maintaining a bootstrapper’s mindset as we set out to help more African companies integrate AI capabilities into their current system via our AI workflows,” Olateru said.