Lessons from the journey of a rising Nigerian tech entrepreneur

Omasirichukwu Udeinya, Microsoft #Insiders4Good Fellow and tech entrepreneur, began his project during a university class where a professor gave an assignment: identify a problem in the community and develop a database solution. Omasiri started with the school clinic. With both parents in the medical field, he was no stranger to healthcare settings. But analyzing the clinic from the perspective of a problem-solver sparked an idea.

“I noticed that they were still dealing with paper files,” Omasiri says. “There were a lot of things we could automate, and many gray areas in their processes that we could improve upon.”

So he built an application that digitized recordkeeping and workflows for the clinic, but what started as “just a toy application sufficient for the course assignment” would spark an entrepreneurial journey. Today, Omasiri is the founder and lead software engineer of Chart Synergy, a software company that currently serves 5 hospitals in Nigeria impacting more than 30,000 patients.

Chart Synergy provides an affordable cloud-based solution that enables healthcare facilities to transition from paper to electronic records and manage everything digitally, from patient information and billing to analyzing clinical data. With Chart Synergy, hospitals have been able to run more efficiently. They’ve reduced long wait times for patients, freed up space taken up by paper files, and improved care as a result of doctors being able to access accurate and comprehensive patient records.

Omasiri is eager to do more. “I’ve really wanted to build artificial intelligence into the solution,” he says. “The bigger vision is to use data and AI to help doctors make better decisions. But right now, we’re focusing on the basics.”

While Omasiri had initially built AI features into Chart Synergy, he quickly discovered while marketing the solution that many Nigerian hospitals needed to start with growing their comfort with the internet and computers. They weren’t ready to see the benefits of AI, let alone incorporate it into their operations. It’s a lesson that most entrepreneurs have encountered when developing a minimum viable product–the right question isn’t necessarily “Can this product be built?” but rather “Should this product be built?”

Omasiri refocused the product on deeply addressing customers’ core needs–an affordable digital-records solution that didn’t require heavy investments in servers and other hardware or even constant connectivity to the internet. Now that Chart Synergy has several early adopters, the positive impact they are reporting can be a springboard toward reaching more customers and adding more features to the product as demand grows.

It hasn’t been easy journey, but it’s been rewarding. “I discovered that money isn’t the ultimate motivator,” Omasiri explains. “Sometimes as an entrepreneur, you don’t make money. You go flat. But I kept going and wondering why I was still at it. I realized it was because people were already dependent on the solution. I imagined what would happen if my sister or father or mother went to a hospital, and they could not find their records. The doctor could make blind decisions without knowing any of the patient’s history, which is the case with so many patients here [in Nigeria]. The issues are important and could affect me or my family, too.”

For Omasiri, being an entrepreneur has revealed a few things about himself personally as well. “I didn’t know that I would be able to keep pushing,” he says. “Normally, I would have started doing something else. But seeing that someone out there is benefiting from what I’m doing has kept me going. And I’m still learning. I’m still discovering new things every day.”

Omasirichukwu Udeinya was awarded a Microsoft #Insiders4Good Fellowship, part of a new initiative at Microsoft designed to support promising entrepreneurs with extraordinary solutions to social problems.