A few days ago, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts came together to share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups. They were given 54 hours in which they had to come up with ideas, develop them and see that they are ready for the market. It was NO TALK, ALL ACTION.
If you have no idea what this is all about; then here goes. It is called a Start Up Weekend organised by StartUp Weekend Organisation. Kampala, Uganda had its own. It started on Thursday 26th and came to an end 54 hours later Sunday 28th April 2012.
The first Start up event in Uganda was in September 2011. I remember it bringing together some of the brightest and youngest guys in tech in Uganda. I witnessed it by Twitter, following what was going on. I voted and supported the groups that I thought were the best. I remember two of my friends were in separate groups and they were all requesting that I vote and share with my followers on facebook and Twitter.
There were teams like Ninja Kids, Zword, Myticket, Somesha , Mobvisa and Simbao.net amongst others. The winners were: Somesha which was the overall winner, Ninja Kids as the favorite of the audience, Zword as the funniest app and My ticket as the best mobile app.
Startup weekends are a global initiative. They take place around the globe. Kampala is following in the footsteps of South Africa, Kenya , Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria.
Everything starts somewhere: That is why the notion Start Up. The real challenge s however that Can the Product of these Start Ups, Hackathons and Developers Camps last? Are we going to be able to look back after say 5years and be proud that certain apps developed are our own ingredient? And that it not only won the competition but also is being used to bring a change to society?
YES ; But a lot has got to be put in.
One of the mentors for this Startup Weekend Kampala noted that; there were a lot of recycled ideas. The same ideas keep coming up. And according to him; this shows little or no research. To me, this is a rather big issue. Why do we have no new, authentic, original ideas? Is it because we do not have the time to think through the presentations and ideas? Is it that there are no resources? Or is it that our system does not allow room for incubation and birthing of new ideas?
Who are our mentors? Because as we are who they are; what they speak into us, what they tell us, how they do it is how good our product is. Whoever comes to these camps is looking for a palce to belong. A family that understands them as they are, a family of geeks that speaks one language, where they will groomed and be allowed to blossom. Elijah was one of the group members of Somesha group that won the Garage 48 competition last year. I have had him repair all my laptops and their issues right from Uni, which is well about 5 years ago. However he studied Business Administration. But for a 25 year old, he knows more about Computers, Programming and in my opinion a lot to do with computers.
It is always good to consider those that have shown growth, a lot of interest or even those whose work is above average. Google seeks to do that. But we should be able to do so for our own. We should be able to honor the best amongst as without waiting for someone outside to come and spot the talent. That gives those who are bright amongst us a reason to be better and work harder. It encourages even those that have the interest. Then they know that there is something to look forward to.
So many questions that need to be answered right there. But not all is lost . We as Ugandans in technology are doing really great and are so far the most supportive community I know of. I was definitely proud to see so many people not just take part but also come to support their friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters.
Congratulations winners of StartUp Weekend Kampala: Be OTM that took the first place, MyZiki that took second place and Sonda that came in third.
The other groups include: Databud, 30 million Voices, Roho Foundation, Sky Link, Saving Mothers, @Deliveries, Sharehub and 2Chakale.
Salute Richard Zulu for organizing this, making sure there is enough food, and supplies for the teams. To UgoUganda, PC-Tech Magazine, SMS ONE , Brand Vision and MTN for morale boosting these young ones, and being there. This hackathon could not been the same with all your support.
And to all those that took part I borrow @debelzie‘s words: “Startups are hard work, but if you believe in the product you have no choice but to press on.”
For a recap via Twitter: Search for #swkla and get reading.