Rodgers Muhadi and Sam Masinde have been friends for close to 10 years now. They met in Nakuru where they lived in the same neighbourhood. “Even back then we used to work on some pet projects together!” says Sam. As fate would have it, they found themselves in the same university, Egerton University in Njoro where Rodgers was a few classes ahead of Sam. Rodgers pursued a degree in Electronics while Sam pursued one in computer science.
After completing university, Rodgers worked first as an engineering consultant and was also a retail outlet owner. He later worked for a payments company before joining a leading enterprise software solutions company in Kenya. From his engineering background and work experience, he was fascinated by micro-chip technonogy especially as used in smartcards and wanted to build a product around it. In late 2012 when Sam completed university, they came together and started working on their first product which was a school Smart Card for school fees, attendance among others, which used “chip-to-cloud” technology by basically integrating a Near Field Communication (NFC), smartcard to a web-based solution which led to the birth their company Cardplanet Solutions Ltd.
Later in 2013, they realized the potential of electronic money transfers tied specifically to allocated expenses. They extended their solution from just a student payment card to becoming an online platform electronic medical and nutritional vouchers platform, using mobile phone technology. This product branded as Paykind, is now their main product.
Using Paykind, one can instantly mass distribute digital vouchers to people via SMS on both feature and smartphones. These vouchers can be redeemed by the receiver at any of the certified vendors. The Paykind platform can be used for highly specific uses, including remittances or aid grants earmarked specifically for education, healthcare expenses, or food. Paykind provides valuable tracking and analytics in real-time to monitor voucher redemption, product choices, frequently visited stores and identity of the user. Donors and aid organizations across Africa work hard to guarantee funds are allocated for specific services or resources. While international donations into food, health and education seem large on scale ($42Bn to Africa yearly), the direct impact of these donations are diluted by high overhead costs, distribution hurdles, information inefficiencies, and corruption. What if donors were able to know that 100% of that money made it to the intended beneficiaries?
Currently the startup is made up of a team of four , Rodgers who is the CEO and Sam who is the CTO, both of them are co-founders .Brian who joined the team in 2014 is their lead developer and was also at Egerton University, where he shared the same class with Sam. It is interesting that both Sam and Brian were among the best in their class. Chris joined them recently to aid their growth as the head of sales.
In late 2012, Cardplanet Solutions was accepted into Nailab incubation. In 2013 they joined Savannah Fund accelerator where they got mentorship and funding of $25,000 to launch a number of products. Currently they are incubated at the m:lab business incubation program. The incubation space offers a quiet and dedicated space conducive for team building and “heads down” focus. Incubation at m:lab East Africa also improves access to resources including investors, mentors, potential partners, mobile trainings and an avid mobile community
Late last year, the startup was accepted into Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups. Cardplanet was the second African startup to be accepted at 500 Startups and the first Kenyan startup to make it to Silicon Valley accelerator. They were able to raise funding of $100,000 at 500 Startups. The startup has raised a total of $125,000 and is looking to raise another $250,000 to help with their growth plan for the next two years.