A University of Nairobi Bachelor of Commerce student who lost his laptop got angry and swore to teach criminals a lesson.
That is how 23-year-old Kelvin Macharia has come up with a wireless CCTV system through Internet searches and combing through books. The surveillance system can relay pictures, video and sound on e-mail to designated handsets.
His desire to develop a burglar-proof wireless surveillance camera was triggered when he lost his laptop in his Nairobi house this year.
Although Macharia had stored his laptop in a room installed with CCTV surveillance, he was shocked to find the digital video recorder linked to the surveillance system missing.
The third born in a family of six then embarked on improving the system to include CCTV cameras which can send image, video and voice to a storage system (DVR) without cables.
The prototype circuit board which was developed in a period of five months, Macharia says, relays data from the surveillance cameras to the storage system through wireless modules.
“The system can best curb insecurity and even control traffic jams in towns since the security agencies can easily monitor the happenings from the comfort of their offices and sending the personnel to the ground,” Mr Macharia says.
He says the system can be hidden easily. “The cables will always lead the burglars to where the information is stored. The surveillance cameras cannot be easily vandalised if installed on major streets.”
The system can however be configured to suit the user’s needs so that it relays e-mail alarms to designated contacts in form of pictures, videos and sounds.
This requires Internet and is suitable especially at night since it sends an alarm to handsets, laptops and desktops, he said.
Macharia has so far developed four types of systems installed with different features and specifications.
The cameras include wireless covert (small hidden) cameras, wireless indoor cameras, wireless outdoor cameras and wireless waterproof cameras. The system also supports mobile phone surveillance system.
Developing the system was not smooth sailing for Macharia, though.
“Everything was made through trial and error by people who never cared to listen to critics and I followed the path. For the last five months I have been having sleepless nights but the fruits are worth my efforts”, Mr Macharia said.
The soft-spoken student also runs Sunrise Tracking Limited, a car tracking company he founded three years ago.
The son of peasant farmers who grew in the outskirts of Nakuru town, says he witnessed how poverty devastates, but braved the biting poverty driven by the desire to create a better future. “I recall my life as pupil was not a bed of roses,” he said oozing confidence.
As a young boy in primary school Macharia was always fascinated by technology and had big dreams. In class 7, he had already come up with an idea of telling time without looking at the watch, he named it Sundial, he would get a board and calibrate it then tell time using shadows.
He joined Nakuru High School, now a national institution, for his secondary education where he got involved in many activities. He became a founder member of the Research Club of Kenya.
During one of his science congresses he came up with an idea to eradicate ants from dormitories, a project that became third nationally and gained national acclamation even from the Ministry of Industrialisation.
He chaired the Club while at Nakuru Boys, which gave him the opportunity to network with the country’s top research firms.
After sitting the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education, he got a job at one of the research firms, where he earned a monthly salary of Sh18,000, and by the time he was ready to enter university, he had already saved Sh300,000.
Next Big Thing
He then started researching security-related business ventures and suppliers in countries like South Africa, the United states and India.
He also attended a leadership and entrepreneurship course at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa to hone his business skills in 2011.
The same year, Mr Macharia was one of eight finalists in the Next Big Thing, a programme run by the Business Daily that aims to bring together great ideas and investors.
Mr Macharia was pitching an organic insecticide he had invented while in high school. At university, few people know about his entrepreneurial achievements, he says.
Route less travelled
“My colleagues are often surprised when they see me driving to campus or when they find out that l can rent a house in South C,” says Mr Macharia.
Having had decided to choose the route that is less travelled by majority of the youth— that of creating employment. Mr Macharia already employs seven people on a full time basis.
His company makes a profit of between Sh100,000 and Sh150,000 against an average monthly turnover of Sh350,000.
He has come up with an application for fleet management system that assists vehicle owners and companies to manage their vehicles and get reports and history right from the comfort of their handsets.
The firm, which is based on the fourth floor of Windsor House in Nairobi recently expanded to Nakuru Town in what Mr Macharia says is a move feed his people with fruits of his labour.
“I was brought up in Nakuru and wanted to give back to the society so I opened a branch there,” says Mr Macharia, adding that his client list includes individuals, car hire companies and corporates.
He has chosen to focus on security solutions and hopes to have an office in each East African country in a period of two years.