Founders Spotlight: Botshelo Brandon Tidimalo (Co-Founder & CEO, Innovateium)

Riding on the AI wave that is currently sweeping the tech world, local startup Innovateium has developed its own AI image generator. BW TechZone caught up with co-founder and CEO Botshelo Brandon Tidimalo to talk more about the generator, his view of the future of AI in Botswana, Innovateium's growth ambitions and much more!

Please tell us about yourself and professional background

My names are Botshelo Brandon Tidimalo and I am the cofounder, managing director and CEO of a tech startup called Innovateium Pty Ltd. Innovateium has been in the tech space for almost 2 years now. By qualification though, I am a chemical engineering graduate from the University of Cape Town, having studied from 2018 to 2021. While I was still at school, I cofounded Innovateium with two friends of mine who were in Botswana at the time as we were part of the inaugural Absa Bank Botswana hackathon that was aimed at providing a digital solution towards small to medium enterprises in Botswana. 

We came up with a digital product called eSolutions that placed us on first position and is set to go live this year. At its core, eSolutions is a multi-ecommerce platform that allows customers to interact with a vast amount of SMEs at their convenience. The platform also allows SMEs to interact with their customers through communication modules that integrate calendar scheduling logic as well as email, WhatsApp, and SMS platforms. 

Additionally, Innovateium has also become a part of the digitization of the public sector services mandate by His Excellency the President of Botswana, and is working towards digitizing 3 government services that will soon be announced later this year. This was through winning one of the hackathons that were posted by Botswana Digital and Innovation Hub towards the end of 2021. My roles at Innovateium in conjunction with being the managing director is also being a full stack developer using modern full stack frameworks.

What stoked your interest in tech?

In 2020, as COVID struck the world at large, there was a lot of fake news out in the public domain and I had an idea to build a news app that consolidated all credible news sources into a single app. At the time however, I had no idea how to start and that’s when my interest in tech was really stoked. We were ordered to come back home from school for safety reasons and I started learning how to code online using free resources and paid courses on LinkedIn Learning. I eventually acquired the skill of creating an Android application using the Java language just from learning online but never got to deploy it to the PlayStore.

Additionally, as part of studying to become a chemical engineer, some of my modules included using softwares such as Matlab, Scilab and ASPEN Plus for scripting and problem solving. These software tools involved a lot of scripts being written in a Python-like language and so happened to be my favourite modules that I even excelled on. This was in addition to the fact that my second career choice to study for at UCT was actually software engineering and thus in the process of studying for Chemical Engineering, my interest in fully pursuing a career in software development was elevated.

I then further went into LinkedIn Learning to study more software development courses for cross platform (Android, iOS, Web, Desktop, macOS and Linux) development using the popular cross platform frameworks; Flutter and the many JavaScript frameworks. All of the certifications from LinkedIn Learning earned me connections in the tech space and I eventually started connecting with more people that tech became more of my main career choice.

Tell us more about the AI generator that you developed

The AI image generator we developed recently is a part of our showcase for the talent and skill we have at Innovateium. It is a full stack application that uses the MERN stack ([M]ongoDB, [E]xpress.JS, [R]eact.JS and [N]ode.JS) for its frontend and backend logic. The image generator leverages from the most common open source AI tools from It essentially uses the logic crammed into the OpenAI image generator called DALL-E which has features that can even manipulate images that are fed to the AI model. 

In order to generate an image, one would have to pass in a sentence imagining anything that the AI generator would then destructure and search each word contextually on its latent space and does complex calculations and manipulations on its backend to generate an image from the sentence. The backend then responds to the client (frontend) with a response type of an image which the browser then renders into a human understandable type (picture) on the website. 

Additionally, we’ve made it a social tool that once an individual has generated an image, they could share it by clicking on the share button and this would add it to the list of AI generated images we have on our database. In the process of sharing these images, one’s names will be seen on the website next to the image they generated. To top it all off, the website also allows for one to download the image to their devices and share it on social media with their friends. As it stands, the image generator is free and anyone can access it on

What was the motivation for building it?

At Innovateium, we use AI tools to enhance our workflows and speed up our productivity. We have always been intrigued by AI and wanted to get our first AI product out to the general public. This served as a motivation to start off with something that is currently trending on all social media platforms (especially Discord and TikTok) - AI image generation from either input text or a dataset of uploaded images. The image generator was then built to allow anyone to try it and see what kind of results they can get back from the tool. Additionally, building the tool was motivation to also add it to our showcase portfolio which shows the capabilities that we have and as such, allowing for potential clients and investors to publicly see what we can build.

How complex was building it?

With the experience of having built two complex systems for our clients, the AI image generator we built was quite an interesting tool to build. The most complex portion that went into the development of the tool was how we would have to save the generated images into our database. The OpenAI API service responds with a response type of jpeg (Joint Photographic Experts Group) which is in base64 and these types of data can be huge chunks and potentially take a while to be imported and rendered in modern browsers. 

For an elevated user experience, the solution to this was to then interface with another API that provided us with fast image read and write speeds called Cloudinary. So, the whole loop from entering a sentence into the form on the AI generator includes sending the sentence to our backend, invoking the OpenAI API to generate the image, render back the image to the browser and to finally store it on our database as a link to an image hosted on Cloudinary for faster read and write speeds as previously mentioned. The whole tool took a single weekend to build since the OpenAI API has a vast amount of training dataset and all we needed to do was access that API and return images that a customer may have requested to generate on the tool.

Do you plan on scaling it further?

Since this was a tool made to showcase our abilities as a software development company, we intend to leave it at the functional stage that it is. In order to further scale it, we would restructure it in the future such that it is a freemium product that offers different subscriptions that allow for different premium functionality. This extra functionality includes being able to upload an image and giving the tool a prompt to either manipulate the picture or to generate another picture based on the images fed into the AI model. We have realized that there are many of such AI models out there and in order to stand out, we would need to turn this demo tool into a fully fledged product on top of what we are currently building.  

Whats your opinion of AI in Botswana?

AI in Botswana is slowly but surely grabbing the attention of many. As already mentioned, in our company, we leverage these tools to maximise and increase our productivity. I believe more Batswana are yet to discover these tools and to use them to their benefit. As it stands, the most common AI tools that are being used are image generators on social media that people use to generate their AI avatars. ChatGPT however, seems to be used mostly by developers to enhance their skills and get better at what they do. 

I think that as developers, we need to make more people aware of such tools and possibly integrate them into our workplaces in order to efficiently perform our tasks. In many companies, computer literacy is one of the key requirements that recruiters look for as tools such as Microsoft Office and Google Workspaces drive the productivity of the company. Thus, I believe that if more and more professionals or graduates in Botswana interact with AI, they would be able to quickly pick up all the necessary skills required to land them a job that requires not only computer literacy but also proprietary software literacy.

 In addition to this, one could possibly also land an international job! A quick example could be an individual asking an AI such as ChatGPT (or its variants) the best ways in which one would use Microsoft Excel to quickly balance some accounts on a spreadsheet. It’s amazing how much information one could learn from the responses that the AI will give and how much they can save time having to Google (or Bing!) some of those queries.  

What is your vision for Innovateium in the next 3-5 years?

As technology continues to advance, our goal at Innovateium is to advance with it too. With our evergrowing knowledge on how modern softwares are developed, and our design systems, Innovateium aims to grow to reach the international software markets and expand our clientele initially to reach southern Africa, the rest of Africa, and eventually the world at large within the next 3-5 years. Having started off as a team of individuals trying to win a hackathon for the grand prize, we realized the potential that we have and invision ourselves as part of a larger group of developers aiming to better the world with tech. 

Additionally, as software development kits (SDKs) grow in number, we aim to eventually contribute to the growth of such SDKs using the feedback from our clientele and design systems we’ve come up with for a more unified and flexible user experience. Moreover, as the technology grows, inevitably more work needs to be achieved and thus, it is a goal of Innovateium to also be able to provide more tech jobs within that set period of time.

Apart from the AI tool, is there anything else Innovateium is launching in the future?

Yes! As previously mentioned, we are working on two systems for  a leading local commercial bank as well as the public sector digitization mandate and are nearing the go live stages for both projects. We are also working on developing our own custom products that will be launched in the future. These products are meant to be launched initially in Botswana and eventually scaled to the rest of southern Africa, the rest of Africa, and then eventually world wide. These products are mostly aiming at professionals of any kind, and students at all levels. The core driving force at Innovateium is to allow our clients to succeed at what they do using our products hence and our slogan, “Our technology, our passion, your success”.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about AI?

I always hear people being worried that AI may take over the world or something, but I think it’s here to elevate it and make our lives simpler. From being able to explain hard concepts such as calculus to a 10 year old to being able to debug code or write a full blog post, AI is revolutionizing the way in which we learn, interact and innovate for the future. In conclusion, I’d like to encourage everyone out there to give it a try and develop a routine that caters for AI to assist them on repetitive or boring tasks, to automate processes that are done on a regular, to quickly come up with ideas for anything, and most importably, to boost and increase their productivity. AI to the future!

You can visit our website for more information about our services at For those who would like to contact me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, my username is Botshelo Brandon Tidimalo. 

Phone: +267 74 868 942

Interview has been slightly edited for clarity

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