During Mobile West Africa’s demo day in Lagos, Nigeria, we saw a selection of startups solving local issue, all expecting a reward and more exposure of being the top startup of the conference.

Traffic Butter ended up second, behind Find a Med, however it is our personal favorite. Why? Just imagine a Waze for Africa’s most populous country, getting data from traffic by community-powered notifications, and updates for users by SMS, Twitter or on iOs/Android apps. Lagos is competing (and regularly winning) for the “worst traffic jams in the world”. The central business district is located on an island with limited access, and the number of cars has jumped from

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We had a discussion with Stanley Okafor, founder of Traffic Butter. Here is our chat, which hopefully will help discover a bit more of this amazing country and the problems local startups manage to solve.

An interview with Traffic Butter founder Stanley Okafor

Innovation is Everywhere: When did you launch Traffic Butter, and how did you do it?

Traffic Butter: I started Trafficbutter in November 2010.

TrafficButter’s goal is simple: to help Nigerians NAVIGATE SMARTER and ease the traffic stress on them by providing real-time traffic updates through an easy to use mobile App that captures traffic updates, and presents them to its users in a concise manner. The TrafficButter Mobile App is available for download for Blackberry devices, Android devices, Apple ipads and Iphones. Our primary market right now is Lagos State with a population of over 18,000,000 people.

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IEV: How was Traffic Butter launched? Did you start with a hackhaton?

TB: No. It started off as a twitter handle / Facebook page and then evolved into an app. Originally, it was a side-project which had to become a full-time project given the 24hr nature of demand for traffic updates and our recognition of the business opportunity traffic updates presents.

 

IEV: What are the milestones you have achieved so far, in terms of users, and recognition or partnerships?

TB:

  • Number of users: We have a total of 66,000 plus users across the app and our twitter handle
  • Partnership with companies or institutions:
    • We have enjoyed an informal partnership with the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency
    • We have also enjoyed an informal partnership with the Lagos TrafficRadio, Inspiration FM and Radio Continental – 3 local radio stations which use our content and information stream to inform their millions of users on current traffic conditions.
    • We have also partnered with a Vehicle tracking company to deliver vehicle tracking services to our numerous users.
    • We came in 2nd at the Mobile West Africa App Developer Competition
    • Our twitter handle was a 1st level nominee for The Shorty Awards which honors the best of social media, recognizing the people and organizations producing real-time short form content across Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and the rest of the social Web.
    • We also partnered with the Largest Telecommunications Company in Nigeria to deliver Traffic Updates via SMS.
  • We were also nominated for the Nigeria Youth Merit Awards in the “Best Use of Social Media” Category for the innovativeness and usefulness of our work.
  • We have been featured on Nigerian Television Authority International, VentureBurn, Ventures Africa, and more.

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Funding, talent, and a supportive ecosystem: this is what is missing in Nigeria startup scene for Traffic Butter

IEV: What are the challenges you have faced so far, or that you feel you will face soon?

TB: Funding and Talent. These 2 challenges have existed from day one. We need more of these to take the app to the next level, by investing in product development, Talent acquisition, Marketing and West African regional expansion.

 

IEV: Did someone or something helped you within the Nigerian startup ecosystem?

TB: Not at all. We have run everything on personal resources and efforts so far and gotten no help. Except for the occasional media and press coverage.

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IEV: What is your actual funding if it can be disclosed?

TB: So far, we have put in about $20,000 of our own funds.

 

IEV: What funding would you be looking for, and at what time?

TB: We are looking for $250,000 in Q3, 2014.

 

IEV: Thanks Stanley for your time, we wish you a lot of success with Traffic Butter in the dense traffic of Lagos and, hopefully, other cities in Nigeria and West Africa. You can follow Traffic Butter’s Twitter Feed here.