[Interview] Paul Langlois-Meurinne, CEO and Co Founder, Optimetriks, Kenya
Paul Langlois-Meurinne is the co-founder and CEO of Optimetriks, a company that has developed an innovative data collection crowdsourcing platform to help Fast Moving Consumer Good companies and institutions monitor their distribution in Africa at outlet levels.
This through retail census and retail audits in a record time, delivered through state of the art web interactive Tableau dashboards. He talked to Africa Business Communities about the concept, capturing African markets and the ultimate ambitions
Tell us a bit about Optimetriks
There is a growing opportunity for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies in the expanding Africa household consumption market. Yet around 90% of retail sales still happen in informal outlets.
Distribution in this traditional trade is costly, fragmented and dependent on multiple intermediaries. Brands have scarce information on their markets and commercial performance, which leads to mis-assessment of dynamics, universe size, out of stocks, poor merchandising and pricing noncompliance.
Our solution to those issues is to leverage a community of thousands of users, paid per visits, to perform retail census and audits, collect data on the ground, and take pictures at outlet levels through our mobile Android application and a Messenger chatbot.
Aggregated crowdsourced data is then screened, cleaned, and displayed through live web business intelligence dashboards.
We provide an agile, quick and on demand data-as-a service platform to get market insights. The innovation comes in the crowdsourcing set up, the use of artificial intelligence for image analysis, the statistical expertise for sampling and extrapolation and the web visualization.
Where are you located?
Our head office is located in Kenya, in Nairobi.
How is the company funded?
The company has been funded with the founders’ capital, sales from initial clients and a grant from the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund awarded in May 2017.
What would you say gives your company the competitive edge?
Our competitors are the traditional research companies, Ipsos, TNS, Nielsen, which usually send their own surveyors on the ground and provide generic market research as a whole, while we focus on the distribution aspect of the business and empower large communities of contributors to report information in a bottom up approach.
Operating through crowdsourcing enable us to have a lighter cost structure, increase data quality thanks to larger samples and be more agile as data is collected and displayed in near real time. Users are paid by mobile money or airtime.
Who are your clients?
Our clients are large FMCG companies, which need to sell their products through a large network of outlets and face challenges in managing their distribution networks. Typically they are in the sector of food (Nestlé), telecommunications (Airtel, Tigo, Orange), Oil (Total), beverages (Castel), dairy (Jesa), cosmectics (L'Oreal), etc.
What are the ambitions of the company going forward?
The ambition is to be the reference portal to distribution monitoring data in Africa, from market shares to census and execution KPIs (out of stocks, merchandising, etc). So far, we have been operating in 9 countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, Mali, Cameroon, Ghana, Madagascar and Guinea Bissau). We are planning to launch by the end of the year in Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Nigeria.
What is the latest news from your company?
We have conducted a proprietary census of Nairobi, identifying 80,000 unique outlets with their characteristics, pictures and GPS location. A database available off the shelf for potential clients.
We have started conducting surveys through a Facebook Messenger chatbot that can quickly collect data from a qualified panel of 50,000 respondents across Africa. We are also gradually opening up our system, by equipping some of our clients’ sales rep with our data collection app and building customized reporting.