Tech4Africa: Techies Armed & Ready to take on the world

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The Tech4AFrica unconfernece/ conference has opened up with a bang. With over 160 hard-core developers swarming around the Indaba Hotel armed with the latest laptops, tablets and other tech gadgets. All ready to participate in workshops and session covering everything from Windows 8 to Android to How to get funding for your business.

Tech4Africa 2012

The conference kicks off with the vision being laid out clearly: Technology has the greatest and fastest ability to affect change in Africa.  That’s the heart of the conference – being able to tap into the minds of experts and fellow techies to solve not just immediate problems but also collaborate to build the next Facebook or create the next Social change app in Africa.

Tech4Africa’s DNS states: “We believe our role in the African technology ecosystem is to create an informal environment for learning, networking and interaction, so that the people in that ecosystem are inspired to innovate and build the next set of technology products which to unlock the next billion consumers. To that end, we’ve identified four strands of DNA which our direction and efforts focused. – Engage, Enable, Innovate, Inspire”

What is unique to South Africa is that unlike other developers conference around the world where the developers are under 30 years old, single the South African community is different. The majority of people are over 30 years old, have families, have responsibilities and are still hungry to play with technology. Even take risks on new projects with personal investments of time and money.

Tech4Africa 2012 - ThoughtWorksTech4Africa 2012 - ThoughtWorks

Tech4Africa 2012 - ThoughtWorksPat and Josh from ThoughtWorks discuss how big data is available out there and needs to be tapped into with open API. This will assist in fundamentally changing society and be able to tap into large sets of data. There are various open sources of information that has fantastic data that developers can tap into –

“the skill of statistician is gold” being able to analyse large data is critical.

I attended the Ignite Session where Startups are able to pitch their businesses to investors, mentors, thought leaders, buyers, decision makers, journalists, influencers and potential recruits.

Tech4Africa 2012 - Keet van ZylTech4Africa 2012 - Keet van Zyl

The session started with insights from Keet van Zyl from Knife Capital explaining what Venture Capitalists look for in a business that they will invest in.

The main characteristics are:

  • Management Team – how strong is the team behind the product/ service/ business.
  • Scaleable – is the business scaleable or will it remain niche for a small market?
  • Barriers – what stopping the competition from replicating what your are doing?
  • Unique – is there a uniqueness about the business/ product/ service?
  • Clarity – can you define your business in a Tweet ?
  • Exit – what is the exit strategy?

These items are rated on a scale and out of 1500 business that are presented only 3 are invested in. The competition is stiff especially in South Africa where there isnt’ the startup mentality.

“Very hard to rais R3 million for an idea or a concept in South Africa” Keet confirms.

A nugget of information: It is now easier than ever to get to know your potential investors with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN. This allows you to tailor your pitch to them and their environment. Go stalk your investor today !

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The various teams pitching were then divided into their groups to polish their ideas and get some mentoring an opportunity that makes the entire conference worthy based on this session alone !

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And the winner ? Not yet…their mentoring session goes on, their pitches being polished and business plans changing. Last year’s winner being Andy Hadfield with Real Time Wines – “its TripAdvidor for Wines”. A tough act to follow !

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