Tracified is a startup that we’ve seen at many events. They’re one of the first startups that were accepted into StartupX Foundry at its inception. Their goal is to let you know exactly where your food and everything else you buy comes from. Here’s how its founders went from having stable corporate jobs to tackling challenges in the startup jungle in their attempt to build a world of trust.
Dileepa Jayathilake began his career as a Software Engineer at MilleniumIT. He then joined 99X Technology where he worked in the research team for the past 10 years. During this decade, he had the chance to experiment with a variety of product ideas. Many of these were born as solutions to problems he’d identified while building products for customers.
One such experiment was Web Accessibility Guide. This was an app Dileepa had built to inform developers of how friendly their web apps are for the visually impaired. Another experiment was a Fuzzy Logic based app that was used to store vague logical ideas that spawn out of team brainstormings. A third a mobile app was Televisionary that aimed to make watching TV a social experience. Many of these experiments would go on to win awards at competitions like NBQSA. However, they were all dead-ends since they couldn’t be commercialized.
Meanwhile, Uthpalie Tilakaratna began her career working at a startup. Originally whilst she enjoyed the fast-paced environment of a startup, she wanted to move into a more corporate setting, thus joining HSBC. From there on she did everything from project management to business development, then later specializing in eCommerce. She landed at 99X Technology where she landed the position of Manager eCommerce.
Yet, as time paced, she yearned to return to the fast-paced environment of a startup. She would get her wish. So would Dileepa who desired to build a product that could be commercialized. And it was all thanks to fish in Norway. Dileepa shared with us that they spotted an opportunity while building an e-commerce platform for a customer in Norway.
The customer in question was a business that caught fish in Norway and then had it shipped to China. The business prided itself on having a patented refrigeration technique that always guaranteed the freshness of their fish. However, once the fish was handed over to their partners, the business wasn’t able to check if the same level of quality was maintained until the fish reached the end customer. Thus, the seed was planted for Tracified.
When they first saw this problem, it was decided to focus on the food industry. Uthpalie explained to us that this was where they felt the most urgency was. “Considering food-related diseases, this is where we felt we could make the biggest impact,” she said. Thus, they built a team with 4 full-time developers, QA specialists, and interns. Dileepa added that they’ve formed partnerships with universities to allow interns to work from their campus.
When the team began work, they noticed that the data necessary to solve it was already in the ERP systems utilized by businesses. However, it wasn’t shown to customers. As such, it meant mostly taking the data from existing systems and presenting it in a new manner. Of course, there were cases where they needed to capture fresh data.
This is where the Tracified officer app and integrations with IoT systems from their partners come into the equation. Yet, when building the entire platform, the biggest wasn’t collecting the data. Dileepa explained to us that it was actually at the concept level. “Traditional traceability platforms aren’t powerful because they just collect data and show it. We wanted to implement a modern platform that communicates value throughout the supply chain,” said Dileepa.
To that end, they understood that Tracified had to be a platform that was future-proofed. This was why they chose to implement blockchain. While they offer traceability, their end goal is to help businesses obtain something even greater. That is trust from their customers.
The vision of Tracified is to become the traceability platform for the fourth industrial revolution. To make that possible, progressive technologies like IoT, cloud computing, etc. will play vital roles. As such Tracified aims to act as the integration platform for all these technologies. Once integrated, businesses can then make trusted guarantees to their customers.
Dileepa elaborated on this saying, “Traditionally, this was built with economic trust where brands spend money on advertising. So as an end consumer, you trust the brand won’t play tricks on you to risk losing brand value. But a new startup can’t afford that. For a Sri Lankan coconut oil exporter hoping to enter the Chinese market, his problem is to build trust with consumers he may never meet.”
Yet, one important lesson Dileepa and Uthpalie learned was that companies valued the productivity of their supply chains. They didn’t want employees spending time filling forms to enter traceability data. As such, Tracified had to redesign their backend. These changes would continue in the form of customizations. This was because the supply chains of businesses can be radically different, even in the same industry.
On August 2018, the 1st version of Tracified went live. This was the beta version, which they had implemented with Saaraketha Organics. They also tested it with a few simulated test cases. The system itself works by collecting data from different points in the supply chain. This data can then be customized by the business and presented to customers.
The data itself would be gathered from four sources. The first would be through the ERP systems that businesses already utilize. The second would be IoT devices such as humidity sensors. The third would be the Tracified officer app, which can be used to enter data that was previously captured manually. The fourth would be delivery systems utilized by businesses and their logistics partners.
The Tracified software platform comes with a series of API’s. It’s these API’s that ensure data can be captured from all these different sources and stored in a single place. Once the business customizes the data it can be presented in the form of a QR code. Customers can then scan the QR code to see the entire journey the product took.
Currently, Tracified is a member of StartupX Foundry. As such, their primary funding comes from 99X Technology. Dileepa and Uthpalie shared that they’re expected to generate revenue from 2019 onwards. And at the moment, they offer the software platform with an implementation fee and a monthly licensing fee. The exact amount varies on the complexity and level of integration the business seeks.
With this pricing model, they’ve currently obtained four customers based in Sri Lanka. Yet, this has been one of the biggest challenges Tracified has to face. Dileepa and Uthpalie shared with us that businesses and consumers in Sri Lanka don’t consider traceability to be a priority.
The exception to the rule has been small businesses that prioritize their social responsibility. But they feel this rule doesn’t exist at all in Australian and other mature regional markets. Here Dileepa and Uthpalie found there was a keen interest in traceability. As such, Tracified is looking at expanding into these markets, having already acquired a customer in Australia and is exploring the Norwegian market.
And they’re not the only ones that believe in the platform. The startup has won a number of awards over the years. This includes the Gold Award under the retail and supply management category at NBQSA 2017. This automatically made them a nominee for the 2017 APICTA awards. The latest award they won was for the best startup pitch on sustainable solutions at the Oslo Innovation Week.
And the latest award they’ve acquired is for being the winner at the eSwabhinamani awards under the business/commerce category. Ultimately, Tracified aims to be the platform that ensures products are trustworthy. Both Uthpalie and Dileepa believe this is how they can create a great impact.
This is because it’ll help achieve the 12th UN Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring responsible production and responsible consumption. Furthermore, Tracified hopes to share what they’ve learned using blockchain to solve actual business problems over the past 2 years with the community. “The challenges we’ve faced and overcome are lessons we want to share, to help blockchain development move forward,” said Dileepa.
In the end, Tracified shows us one of the few practical examples of blockchain. Furthermore, it was only a few days ago that there was an E Coli outbreak in the US due to tainted romaine lettuce. Such instances serve as examples of the problem that Tracified is working to solve.
Therefore, one can hope we’ll see businesses take traceability seriously for the Tracified team to create the great impact they envision. A world where you can trust the food you eat and everything else you buy. A world where you can trust the smallest of businesses from countries you’ve never even heard of.
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.