Meet Zed Engineering, a trio that created a tracking device (Astra), that monitors potential malicious activity from your vehicle or motorbike. We got to interview the team of creatives and innovators from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, in our 3rd building series with this amazing product that will blow your mind.
- Joy @wht_snow - Marketing and Public Relations Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador
- Stephen @stinekaguri- Software Development, Server Management
- Brian @blasius_brian - Deals with Firmware for microcontrollers, Designs electronics, and runs simulations
Brian: Vehicle and motorcycle theft has been a problem for decades everywhere and there have been trackers made to combat this. Normal trackers did not have real-time notifications, and we got ahead of that by creating an android app that links our tracker to your phone. When your vehicle is in motion you'll get notified.
We also have a battery protection feature. People's batteries get stolen from cars in garages and get exchanged for old ones. The battery protection system was tested by one of our technicians from campus and he was able to detect battery theft from his car. We are glad we were able to solve a major problem.
Brian: No. They are more or less the same for all types of vehicles.
Joy: There is a very funny story behind it because last year we had chosen a name for our company but we didn’t have the funds to register it. Luckily this year we got the money but unfortunately, the name had already been taken by another company. So we chose from a list of names and went with ZED.
Joy: I have been exposed to many resources and skills, one being the ability to connect and interact with people. It's made it very easy for us to sell our product. Microsoft Learn's vast resources and benefits like Azure for storage, have come in handy too.
Stephen: Due to geographical differences and the technicalities of the product, progress was slower. Also, shipping components from China got slackened due to the lockdowns and the pandemic.
Stephen: Shipping costs from China are relatively cheaper. There is also more variety in the Chinese market because that's where most of the hardware is fabricated.
Julia: Have you encountered any new or threatening competitors in the industry and how do you plan on attaining a competitive advantage?
Brian: Yes. In fact, there are so many competitors in the market. One of the challenges we’ve encountered is having small-scale production. A large-scale company could produce a thousand pieces at a go. If we produced twenty pieces at a time and we both sold our pieces at a thousand shillings, we won't make as much profit. We ought to work twice as hard as the bigger companies and perfect our art. We have to make sure there are no technical mistakes from the get-go to compel our customers to stay for the quality work.
Joy: Nothing really. We just move forward and learn from our mistakes, what’s done is done!
Sonia: Joy, have you faced any challenge being the only female in the team and what advice would you give to other women who might be in your position?
Joy: These guys have been awesome and I'm comfortable working with them. My advice would be when interacting with people or rather when making friends, make sure you choose people who have the same drive and or motivation as yourself. This will help in the future. In case you get stuck, those people will push you to levels you never imagined.
Joy: Steve was the first person I met and talked to in my class. Steve eventually met Brian and later on, Steve introduced me to Brian. Before we knew it, we were a trio.
Steve: We have been having a few issues with funds. Yes, investors have come who want to buy shares (apparently we don’t know how many shares we have). So the money mostly comes from our pockets, we enjoy funding the project.
Brian: We have a prototype already, both software and hardware revision is being done. We are doing designs for manufacture. We want to do a mass production making our product cheaper with high quality. Our target is to have one hundred units by August.
We intend to deal with more products other than trackers. Every product will have a specific name just like how our tracker is called Astra.
Joy: For now, we do not have a company contact, we are using our contacts. So if you want to reach us you could contact us personally.
Steve: Just start small, and you'll grow eventually. Taking the first step is key.
Brian: I have been sharing this with my teammates. One of the most motivational tweets for me is thanks to Elon Musks' Twitter page.
The best thing about engineering is feedback, never expect positive feedback. This will come a long way in your journey.
Imagine Cup Kenya would like to thank Zed Engineering for sharing their journey with us. Please leave a comment on what you'd want to see next or any feedback you might have for us. Catch the full interview on our YouTube Channel: