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How blackout opened my eyes to unique business opportunity

Ruuj Caflon is entering an industry that is projected to rake in Sh3.4 trillion by 2020. His products are literally flying off the shelves and in just a month he has attracted the attention of local and international celebrities

Milliam Murigi @Millymur1

Wearable tech is an emerging industry that is taking root in the world at a fast rate. Here in Kenya a young entrepreneur is claiming a stake of the industry that CCS Insight, an international firm that offers market intelligence on future of technology, estimates will be worth Sh3.4 trillion in two years.

Ruuj Caflon, 24, from Kayole, Nairobi county, is creating clothes with LED lights and power banks. His latest is a wearable bonnet hood, which is embedded with a LED display with computerised keyboard with a word count of 5,000 words, Q1 up to Q9, dim and highlights regulation button and speed regulator.

The power bank can store enough energy that can stay on for 50 minutes. “LED clothing doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be done on a budget considering that LED lights themselves are actually readily available and affordable,” says Caflon.

He started making the clothes three months ago and says the reception is good, with artistes being his main clients. “I started using T-shirts but after receiving bonnet hoods orders, I decided to majorly concentrate on them,” says the electrical engineering student at Kenyatta University.

The motivation to start the business came from a power blackout. He had to use a phone to finish what he was doing, something he found almost impossible because he was working with one hand.

After the experience, Caflon who also doubles up as a mobile phone technician, decided to come up with a cloth with LED lights to make his work easier at night. He started by improvising LED lights from an old mobile phone before embedding it into an old T-shirt.

Though the final product was not perfect, it served the purpose. To pilot the product he started using the T- shirt he made at work and one day a customer who had brought his phone for repairs liked it and wanted to buy it. Caflon jokingly told him to part with Sh1,000 and he gladly obliged.

This is when he saw a business opportunity. He started his research and came across another innovator who was making similar product but using hoods. Last month, he officially launched Caflon Designs after he made his first hood and posted it on Instagram. The response was good and he sold the product immediately.

Luckily, someone saw the product and connected him to Kenyan rap artiste, Kaligraph Jones who ordered two pieces – one with front LED lights and flash lights at hands and rear and the original one. “When I presented the hoods to him, he liked them very much and that is when my doors opened.

I have been getting orders from musicians and high-profile people locally and internationally. A single hood goes for Sh6, 000,” he adds. Apart from hoods he is also making T-shirts with an alarm, bluetooth and digital watch worth Sh2,500.

A bra and pants with LED lights for video vixens go for Sh1,500 and he can also install the lights on trousers and shoes. “All my products are waterproof and washable so you don’t need to worry about ruining them.

They can be used for video or movie shoots and during performances to charge phone since it has a charging and USB ports, even when there is no power since it is a full LED light,” reveals Caflon.

Since they need to make the products themselves, they take a person’s measurements then buy motherboard and wires and other materials they improvise using their skills. One can get their products online, especially on his Facebook page, Ruuj Caflon.

“Since I can’t do this full time, considering that I am also a student I have partnered with my friends Raphael and Usete. This helps in ensuring that my absence doesn’t affect this business in any way,” he adds.

He says that they have unique product, which will be presented to the President as a gift. It can detect metals about 20 metres away and has a digital watch.

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