As a child growing up in Nigeria, Hogan Bassey’s dreams of the future were not modest.
Contracting malaria no less than four times before his 10th birthday, Bassey (BBA ’09) envisioned a world where he’d be improving — and saving — the lives of thousands who suffer from mosquito- and bacteria-borne diseases.
“Growing up and having malaria so many times, I wanted to solve the problem,” says Bassey. “I was fed up with getting malaria. I was thinking to myself, ‘If the mosquitoes don’t bite me, I won’t get sick.’ It was ingenious — why hadn’t anybody thought of this? In my 10-year-old mind, I’m thinking I’ve solved this problem once and for all.”
Although Bassey, 30, held several jobs after graduating from UGA, he never lost sight of his goal to reduce the health burdens brought on by mosquito bites. And after several fits and starts, he co-founded the Alpharetta-based LivFul Inc., which seeks to save lives by preventing mosquito and bacteria-borne diseases.
“We’re on a mission to save lives and transform communities — that’s our motto,” says Bassey, who went full-time with LivFul in 2015. “We want to save 200,000 lives per year.”
Bassey, whose research and development these days is more sophisticated than in the beginning when he collected chemicals around his home in a hit-and-miss attempt to create a mosquito repellent, came to UGA as a pharmacy major but decided studying economics would help him reach his goals faster.
“I wasn’t passionate about the science of (pharmacy) — I was more passionate about the business,” he says. “And I ended up changing my major to economics because I wasn’t sure where in business I fit in. I thought I’d run a hedge fund or something like that and buy a pharmaceutical company one day, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
In June, LivFul brought its first product to market, AKIVA insect repellent, a plant-based elixir — available in a lotion or a wipe — that offers up to 16 hours of protection from insect bites. AKIVA is now available in the Bahamas and the repellent will soon be available in Brazil.
Bassey, who says the product’s DEET-free formula incorporates a time-release technology that allows AKIVA to stay on the skin (rather than being absorbed or evaporating), adds the repellent should be available in American markets by 2019.
And while he’s got his eye on the big picture, Bassey looks forward to personally delivering the first boxes of AKIVA to Nigeria.
“It’s something I’m very excited to deliver around the world, and Nigeria has a special place in my heart, but I’m just so excited and our whole team is, to bring this to the world,” he says.
When asked how his Terry College experience helped shape his efforts to launch LivFul, Bassey happily lists numerous professors (many he considers mentors) and classes (several he took more than once) who influenced his journey.
“I speak to people who went to other schools and they talk about never having a professor who made a profound effect on their lives. For me, I got that in Terry,” he says. “My professors had a belief in me that was very encouraging. They believed that I could go out and achieve something special. When I faced hard times, I’d think about what they told me.
“They created an environment that allowed me to be myself and pursue my dreams by encouraging me and believing in me. They helped me realize what was unique about me.”