I TALKED ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO MY FATHER WITH MY CURRENT CO-FOUNDERS AND WE DISCOVERED AN INCREDIBLE INNOVATION: DRONES. WE TRULY BELIEVE DRONES REPRESENT THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE, AND COMBINING IT WITH AN INCREDIBLE SOFTWARE WE CAN DO MARVELS. THIS WAS THE FOUNDATION OF WEFLY AGRI.
TechMoran, in a chat with Joseph Biley, CEO and co-founder of WeFly Agri where he recounts how the idea came into place. WeFly Agri allows farmers and plantation owners to monitor their farmlands and plantations from their phones. This is made possible with the effective use of drones.
The startup which is present in Africa at the moment aims to expand to other parts of the world. According to Joseph,
OUR SOLUTION IS GLOBAL, AND THE NEED IS IN AFRICA, BUT ALSO LATIN AMERICA, SOUTH EAST ASIA, ETC. IN AFRICA, OUR INTENTION IS TO COVER IN THE SHORT TERM ALL THE FRENCH SPEAKING COUNTRIES, AND THEN EXPAND. STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS ALONG THAT VISION ARE BEING CONSIDERED.
Enjoy the full interview below….
Back in 2015, when I came back from France, I had the pleasure to visit my father’s plantation. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a nice and enriching family trip happened to be a financial disaster and because: We figured out that all the money my father pumped into the plantation for the last year was wasted because his employees didn’t properly do their job. My father didn’t have enough time to periodically visit his plantations and the result was millions of CFA lost. Basically I was like how can I find a solution in order to solve that issue.
Tell us more about WeFly Agri
We have the necessity to improve agricultural productivity because of the demographic boom Africa is currently going through. We also have a young and tech savvy new generation of farmers that need to have a product in their hands in order to manage their father’s plantation that will be passed on to them. The problem is that nowadays, farmers have only two options:
Either driving hours to reach their plantations and it happen to be difficult to have a global view of the area. Imagine you have hundreds of hectares where it is impossible to visit it in a single day, Or to blindly trust the plantation’s supervisor reports, and to be honest, it is not always a good idea. WeFly Agri offers farmers a third option, a solution that will enable them to visualise and monitor their plantations via a smartphone, a tablet or a computer from any location in the world.
They have a digital access to an interactive map with value added information.
It is incredible, you can move around having your plantation in your pocket, wonderful isn’t it?
The use of drones isn’t too common in the continent. How have you been able to pull this off?
I myself came across drones back in school, when I was doing my Masters in Entrepreneurship at INSEEC Business School. Drones are becoming more and more common in Africa. As a matter of fact, there is now a field to land drones for medical purposes in Rwanda. Drones are a versatile marvel of technology, that has the power to trigger a tremendous boom in many fields, such as agriculture, logistics, healthcare, etc. We therefore decided to leverage its uses in the agricultural sector, thanks to our knowledge, connections and vision.
How about the team behind WeFly Agri? Tell us about them
We are lucky to have a really amazing team, made of bright and ambitious people. We share the same vision, the same values and we are all passionate about what we do:
- I, Joseph-Olivier Biley, am a serial entrepreneur. I am the Co-founder & CEO of WeFly Agri. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in international Marketing and Finance, and a Master in Entrepreneurship from INSEEC Business School. I’ve been selected among the eight best entrepreneurs of INSEEC Group, to be part of a wonderful experience in San Francisco.
- Franck Alter is a former classmate at INSEEC. He is the Chief Financial Officer. He has a Master’s Degree in Management & Finance at Cranfield University in the UK
- Steeve Camara is the Chief Technology Officer, and lives in New York. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance at Monroe College in New York, and is currently a student at NYU, where he’s having a Master’s Degree in Project Management.
- Mehmet Issa N’DIAYE is our Chief Strategy Officer. He is a serial entrepreneur and in parallel to his position at WeFly Agri, leads an investment fund called BlackPearl. He has an Executive Certificate in Radical Innovation from the Massachussets Institute of Technology (MIT), and an MBA in Strategic Management & Economic Intelligence from Paris School of Economic Warfare (EGE)
- Paulin Konan is our lead developer; he is the extreme geek of our team: An engineer in Industrial Computing from Ecole Polyvalente Supérieure d’Informatique et d’Electronique in Morocco. He concluded his student journey with merits as the best student since the creation of the school.
- Jean-Luc Houedanou is our genius Lead designer and in charge of the user experience. He has an MsC in E-commerce from Sherbrooke University, Canada.
We also have 4 other full time employees refining our solution, and work on next moonshot projects ?
Do you have any special bias towards the agricultural sector? or you just choose to simply launch in it?
We definitely have a bias toward Agriculture. My father has been in the Agriculture for more than 20 years now, so I am used to the smell of trees… My co-founders and I truly believe agriculture is the key to Africa’s rise, and we intend to be part of that wealth creation process.
What has been the biggest challenge WeFly Agri till date? How have you been able to weather it?
The biggest challenge was in developing our solution, and go beyond the pictures. It’s true that we provide 4k images, but the actual marvel has been for us to make those map dynamic and alive, by providing farmers with useful data such as weather, production, type of tree, age, etc. It requires a lot of work, creativity and knowledge, and I’m infinitely grateful to and proud of my team for what we’ve accomplished so far.
Is there a chance WeFly Agri expands to monitoring other properties, asides lands and plantations?
Definitely, drones are versatile, and we can adapt the software to any kind of application. But for now, we are focus on agriculture.
How well has your startup gotten people to use her services? Satisfactory so far?
Our main and biggest client at the moment is a top rubber company in Cote d’Ivoire. The software is being deployed there, and so far they are amazed about what is going on. On our side, we are going through a learning process as well, as we adapt our system to the needs of the rubber tree industry, which is a really enriching experience.
Are there any possible expansions to other parts of Africa.
To Africa, I would add, the world!
What are your short and long term goals as a startup?
Short term goal is to be able to map ALL the plantations in Africa, starting with Cote d’Ivoire, in order to build what we call AfRECA: Africa Export Crop Atlas. In the long term, we intend to improve our technological tools, and why not acquire satellites!