Most startups would be quite satisfied with profits of US$30,000 in only their third year of existence, and clients including the likes of Heineken. But not Rwanda’s TorQue, which after a year that saw it obtain funding from the Tigo-backed think accelerator and make it to the final of the Seedstars World global startup competition, is aiming far higher.
TorQue is a software development company that creates software that manages the distribution channels of valuable goods and services. Its mobile and cloud-based solution “Workspace” is used by Heineken’s core distributor in Rwanda and the startup believes it is poised to be the signature software for insurance companies as well as telecoms.
Founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Jean Niyotwagira told Disrupt Africa TorQue was founded with a mission to help businesses to fully manage their growth, with uptake of Workspace growing since its launch a year ago to include 40 distributors, 17 warehouses and shops, and close to 150 logins a day.
The company is not only anticipating expanding to 200 warehouses in Rwanda, plus adding insurance software, but wants to launch in Nigeria, Zambia and Congo Brazzaville in the near future. It projects increasing last year’s US$30,000 profit to US$80,000 this year, US$240,000 in 2016 and US$500,000 in 2017.
Niyotwagira said the company was poised to benefit from the realisation of many small businesses in Rwanda and elsewhere that they needed certain tools in order to manage their growth, with TorQue charging customers a one-time licence fee and a monthly subscription fee to use the system.
“For the last ten years, the economy of Rwanda has been growing, but many businesses that started during that rapid growth do not possess the tools they need to fully manage with their growth,” he said.
“The lack of tools and upgrade in human resources were starting to create bottlenecks in big distribution channels of different products, such as beverage products and telecom products that had large distribution channels. We saw an opportunity to start solving their problem by creating tailored software that were simple to be used by people with limited education background but also powerful to be used by the top management.”
TorQue recently added Prime Insurance to its list of customers, and is targeting further large multinationals looking to manage their distribution networks and collect data from the ground up.
“TorQue plans to become the largest provider of SME distribution software for the beverage, insurance, and telecom industry in the next three years,” said Niyotwagira.
Rwanda remains important as a basis for these expansion plans, with TorQue planning to achieve its goals by becoming the first or second largest provider in the Rwandan market and then expanding to markets through the network of its anchor clients.
Niyotwagira said even the projected income for the next few years did not include other possible revenue streams, such as IP and data analytics.
Indeed, big data could play a major part in the company’s future, with data collection and analytics valued by corporates and governments seeking reliable data about private sector functions and consumer patterns. Niyotwagira says data collected through Workspace has already been used for an understanding of distribution channels, and believes in the future there is a possibility the sale of data analytics could prove to be a valuable revenue stream.
“TorQue’s values would lead the company to preserve individual client data, but the analytics could be used for additional value creation for the company. Big data on African distribution and consumers may prove to be TorQue’s biggest asset,” he said.