paygo fausto finding impact

FIP044: Product Prototyping with Fausto Marcigot

Fausto Marcigot is one of five Co-founders at PayGo Energy, a technology company enabling low-income households in Kenya to afford clean cooking fuel. Inspiration for the company came straight from Kenyan users – Fausto and his team were working on another project when they observed individuals buying just enough kerosene or charcoal for that day because they just didn’t have the cash flow to buy more. His team calculated the monthly expense and realized cooking gas would be cheaper and cleaner, but they needed to solve for the shortfall in cashflow, and so PayGo Energy was conceived.

On this episode, Fausto explains how they went from concept to company, with a focus on validating the idea, prototyping the product and accessing early-stage funding. We’ll dive into the following:

  • The role of familiarity in building new products and systems; specifically how experience with and exposure to the behavior of target users can inspire new applications to existing technologies.
  • How to validate a new technology product concept by using quick-and-dirty, high-touch testing methods and off-the-shelf products.
  • Why bootstrapping was necessary to start building their product, and how the co-founders leveraged their network to keep their momentum.
  • We touch on the emotional and personal challenges bootstrapping elicits.
  • Strategic fundraising for different stages of growth, from prize money for product prototyping to accessing seed money, and what else they considered during capital raises.
  • A walk through 5 iterations of the product, including software and hardware changes and which iterations were tested with users.
  • The role of public institutions, namely the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), whose purpose is to maintain health and safety standards of products sold in Kenya to ensure consumer protection. We explore the company’s relationship with KEBS and how they worked together to bring PayGo Energy’s product to market.

Resources:

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