A classic YOLO moment.
Once in a year.
But, arguably, the most important 48 hours in a startup’s year.
Pivot started as Pivot25 last year. 5 categories. 5 contestants per category.
Ofcourse, some slagged it off as a wanna-be event and a money-minting scheme. But the organizers knew better. The view was long-term and too much for a knee-jerk half-brain to understand. But, finally, we have an even BIGGER event called PivotEast. Even the gutter-press is talking about it.
The pitches are better. The revenue points are more succinct. The judges are more and as ruthless as expected. This is business.
I was at the mFarm launch yesterday and as some people cachinnated hysterically and profusely as Dr Bitange told the story of the Chapati addict who was convinced to love potatoes, I managed to borrow some gems of wisdom. The trick the potato salesman used was NOT to try to convince the Chapati addict to LEAVE chapativille, but convince them to ALSO like potatoes, at least 3 times a week.
This, my friends, is tapping into the human trait of being flexible.
Kaye of Uganda talked about there being over 25, 000 establishments that can be clients to a system resembling his system. He just wants 1000 clients to be fully profitable.
“There is alot to go around”, Liko said. “We have barely scratched the surface.”
I don’t have alot of time today, so I will keep this short.
Lesson 1: People are not sleeping
I get inundated in melancholy every time someone asks me to ‘name 4 tech success stories’ from/in Kenya. After mPesa and the likes of mFarm and Ushahidi, there is very little to write home about.
But not for long, my friend. Ohh no!!
The dawn is finally here. ChamaPro. Elimu. Uhasibu. MedAfrica. Ma3Racer. AroundMe. AngryKenyans. Wakili. All systems I see no reason as to why they will not each have over 100, 000 unique users before Q4 2012.
Lesson 2: Focus is key
I once told a story about the programming cobbler who was a mason when he was not plumbing in his butchery. In some weird way of thinking this is called ’8-4-4-’, aka ‘being multi-talented’. There is always the question of ‘What is your MsOffice’? What product takes 75% of your time, effort, thought and focus.
If you have ONE thing that takes that percentage and the remaining 25% of your conscious time is used on useless things like food, relationships, sleep, family and friends, then my friend, you have focus. and you are CUT OUT to be an entrepreneur.
On the other hand, if you have TWO+ things that you do, then you, my friend, are an employee. And you will notice that your start-up, slowly, painfully but surely, becomes a stall. It stalls.
Lesson 3: Even Rwandese have computers
The time when we could talk about multi-threading and immediately see our Ugandans and Rwandese friends fall on the ground trembling and begging us not to kill them with code is long gone.
I met Emma from Sail Ltd who was speaking Python. She is the developer of Get-It. Remember my story of Rwandese and Ugandan mamsillas? Yeah. Now they can code too. Imagine that.
Lesson 4: Kuna shida Safaricom
BC said 2 interesting things yesterday:
- The Safaricom Innovation board has done nothing and might be disbanded.
- Safaricom needs a Head of Innovation who has never worked in a Telco before.
Well, ofcourse my applicati0n for this job was rejected on day 1 because, understandably, I have never gone to University and it would be inhuman to expose me to the awesomeness of all these Degree, Diploma and Masters touting gurus. That would be so traumatizing for me. I cannot even spell ‘degree’. Just the mention of words like ‘ubiquitous’ would render me defunct.
So I paved way. But could not hold back my advise on what the person should be able to do, to deliver what Safaricom wants (A LOT of money from data and apps) and deliver what the developers want (money, bragging rights and peer-respect).
I think the BIGGEST problem in telcos is KPIs. When you are pitching your app that will take 3 months to start making money to a Telco employee who only thinks in 2D [KPIs and Daily reports], it becomes a hard sale. “If it will not make money from day 1, we don’t want it”, is a common response I have received in the past. A lot of times.
With all due respect, I personally think asking a Telco employee to come up with innovations, is like asking a Vitz driver to over-lap. Most innovations in the Telcos are from OUTSIDE the Telco mindsent.
BC spoke of a possibility of having iHub take care of contracts, NDAs and QA for the Apps. I am 100% behind this and will PUSH iHub daily to see this happen.
Naweza endelea niambiwe nimetukanana.
Emails zianze ku-fly.
Salim asemekane hapendi Safcom.
Back to code.