The New York Times today featured one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, Ashifi Gogo from Ghana, and at 32, is the founder and CEO of Sproxil based inm Cambridge, Mass. Ashifi founded Sproxil® in 2008 and currently serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Under his leadership, Sproxil developed its award-winning Mobile Product Authentication™ (MPA™) technology.
Former US President Bill Clinton described Sproxil as “a genuinely remarkable achievement… (it’s) empowering… putting people in charge of their own healthcare.” Sproxil’s MPA solution is now used on multiple continents and in many industries including automotive, garment and fast-moving consumer goods.
Ashifi’s work has been recognized through a variety of awards and fellowships. Most recently, Sproxil was named the world’s most innovative company in health care by Fast Company, and #7 most innovative worldwide, beating 99 of the Fortune 100 companies. Ashifi was also inducted into the 40 Under 40 Class of 2012 by the Boston Business Journal. He received a Clinton Foundation Global Initiative Outstanding Commitment Award, led Sproxil to win a grant from the United States Agency for International Development and attract venture funding from Acumen Fund in New York.
An expert in end-consumer authentication technologies, Ashifi is Six Sigma Black Belt certified in Good Manufacturing Practice and Continuous Process Improvement. Ashifi holds one US Patent and is also a named inventor on multiple published US and foreign patent applications, one of which has been recognized by the US Patent and Trademark Office, winning a Patents for Humanity award for its significant positive humanitarian impact. He earned a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College and a B.A. in mathematics and physics from Whitman College. He is Dartmouth’s first-ever Ph.D. Innovation Fellow.
Computing and thinking
On my desk, I have two monitors in addition to my MacBook Air. By the end of the day, I use all three monitors. I picked a chair that is a bit soft and padded. It has a high back, because I like to kick back and do some thinking.
Jogging his memory
I stack business cards on my desk. Typically, when I get a whole bunch of cards after a trip, I will go through them and convert a number of them to digital. Some of them are memorable, and I save the card just to remember the experience.
1. Always ready to serve
I have a table-tennis paddle right above my desk. My co-workers gave it to me because I told them I have a certificate in table tennis from my primary school, and they were skeptical about my skills. Sproxil is in the certification-of-authenticity business, so my co-workers gave me the paddle as a kind of certificate.
Room to roam
We have an open floor plan here in our U.S. office. We rub shoulders with everyone. We run a pretty flat organization chart when it comes to hierarchies. People move around; they talk to each other. When someone needs to make a call or a meeting that might disturb others, we have two conference rooms. One is small and one larger. But I typically have my meetings by phone. I am talking to people who are all over the world.
Home sweet home
I have an empty box of chocolates from Ghana on my desk. I am from Ghana. The box has some Kente cloth around it, and it reminds me of home. I also have a box made from banana leaves, which is from Kenya.
2. Fruits and nuts
We’ve been trying to get healthier. When we started, it was the usual salty, fatty, greasy snacks. Now we buy organic fruits. We buy nuts. There are a couple of nut fans in the office. The company supplies the snacks.
3. The shelves runneth over
We use shelves for company awards. We started with one shelf and then had to use two. Now they are both filled. We may need to build another.
Company of equals
We try to be as democratic as possible. Everyone is more or less equal to everyone else in the office. We have close to a dozen nationalities represented, speaking more than 10 languages across the five countries in which we have boots on the ground.
Making do at lunch
About eight months ago, my favorite restaurant near the office closed and I have been miserable since. Now I bring my lunch in, which has cut my lunch time and my bill in half.
Home to office
I come in by 10 o’clock. My day actually starts at home. It is not uncommon to get that 5 a.m. call from India that gets me out of bed and in front of my computer.
I spend 40 to 60 percent of my time traveling. It is heading more toward 40 percent now, because I have offices overseas with trained staff.
4. Remembering India
We have a bookshelf that is covered by a bright pink sari, with a couple of plants on top. I purchased it in India. When I see that sari, I remember the experience of being over there and all that I have learned about India.
The Ghanaian Way
In Ghana, it’s much more about relationships. Recently, we closed a sale with the director of a large agrochemical company there in a record nine days. It turns out that he knew some of my relatives and had seen a story in the newspaper about me going to the White House. So he felt he could trust me. In Ghana, a lot gets done on a handshake.