OkHi, a Nairobi-based tech startup, is expanding its addressing system with new ways for people to describe where they live, prove who they are, and for businesses to connect with them.
“The traditional physical address system was invented over 200 years ago and has not scaled with global population growth. Today, there are over 4 billion people in the world without a physical address. These people are not included in the world because they don’t have access to life’s services, whether that’s getting an ambulance, or proving you are who you say you are to a bank. Our mission at OkHi is to give everyone a physical address so that they can be included in the world,” explained OkHi CEO and cofounder Timbo Drayson.
OkHi, according to the company, gives people the opportunity to create, describe and share their personal addresses, enabling the people and businesses they choose to find them. Most other addressing solutions use GPS signals to get reliably close. Using GPS for services such as Uber can get reasonably close, but never to the gate or door. OkHi uses GPS signals and adds additional data inputs such as Wifi signals and pictures to addresses, making it accurate to the doorstep. The problem that OkHi is solving is especially acute in a country like Kenya, where you have such a range of living conditions – from apartments and townhouses to sporadic plots in rural areas and extremely dense slum areas. In many cases, traditional mapping services like Google Maps have not been able to even map roads.
“Kenya doesn’t have a national addressing or postal system so people cannot receive post to their door. This also affects access to key services, such as bank accounts, which require a home address for registration. Some people purchase and share PO boxes, but the cost of $30 each year is prohibitive for many, and doesn’t provide the bank with any useful location data” added Timbo Drayson. “For businesses, the lacking address system makes it difficult to give customers a good delivery experience at a sensible cost. For example, in Kenya, it takes on average over three phone calls to get a Domino’s Pizza delivered and 2.8 calls for an Uber trip, and that’s when using GPS.”
In addition to addresses, OkHi is helping domestic and international businesses connect with Kenyans by using OkHi’s custom-built logistics technology stack, providing the software solution to manage their whole logistics. Using OkHi, businesses save on average 30% on delivery costs and time, reducing delivery failure rates by 30%, and improving customer satisfaction and retention. OkHi’s logistics technology has now enabled local businesses to successfully complete over 100,000 deliveries.
To enable further adoption, OkHi has released a new consumer mobile app to allow anyone to create and share their address and take control of which businesses have access to it. Now available on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, people can create their own custom URL to share their address with the people and businesses they choose (example of OkHi’s office at okhi.co/hq).
OkHi was co-founded in 2014 by Timbo Drayson and headquartered in Nairobi. OkHi is funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bestseller Foundation, Inovia Capital, Interaction Capital and angel investors that include former Google CFO Patrick Pichette and Airbnb co-founder and CTO Nate Blecharczyk.
OkHi continues to test new use cases to deliver on its mission to connect four billion people. Timbo Drayson stated, “OkHi is focused on addressing people not just places, creating the most accurate and valuable location platform in the world. By using our global addressing system, people can be included and get access to the services they want and need.”