1st Women In Computing Conference held in Namibia

On the 27th February 2016, the faculty of Computing and Informatics at Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in collaboration with Google, University of Namibia (UNAM) and Telecom Namibia hosted the first ever Namibian ‘Women in Computing’ conference which took place on NUST grounds. The event also commemorates Anita Borg’s birthday which is celebrated around the world. Anita Borg was a Computer Scientist and an advocate for women in computing who relentlessly fought to ensure that technology has a positive impact on people’s lives. She founded the Anita Borg Institute. Click here for more info on her.

The Event

Dr Anicia Peters, Dean of the faculty of Computing and Informatics at NUST, masterminded the event. She is a recipient of the Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship for Women in Computer Science  through which she has studied in the US. She has made a vow to encourage girls in Namibia to pursue studies in the Computing field and being a key organizer of this event, is already applying that very vision.

The event attracted some 200 women and girls interested in Computing and related fields ranging from high school learners to professional women and university students/staff from NUST, UNAM and IUM. The Vice-Chancellor of NUST, Prof. Tjama Tjivikua, welcomed the participants and gave his appreciation to the organizers and participants. Topics presented at the conference focused on providing a platform to introduce, attract and encourage women and girls to the Computing field and provide role models and mentors for them.

 “I think it’s very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men.”— By Karen Spärck Jones, Professor of Computers and Information at Cambridge Computer Laboratory.

Women in Computing Namibia Conference

Amongst the key speakers, was Ebru Celik, a Technical Programme Manager at Google. She connected via video conferencing for her talk and shared her successes as well as challenges she faced as a woman in computing. She stressed that a person’s gender should not have any bearing on their profession. In addition to the talks, panel discussions provided an opportunity for participants to ask questions to a group of six panelists who are professionally active in the technology field. A student panel also shared survival guidelines for women that find themselves in a “Male dominated world”.

The participants were served breakfast, a delicious lunch and what is a birthday celebration without cake? Three cakes were prepared for the celebration with some yummy ice-cream to cool-off the participants from the scorching weather outside.

Women in Computing conference Namibia
Dr. Peters cutting cake, YAAAASSSSS!!!!

Participants were also asked to sketch a design that they would like as the official logo for the ‘Women in Computing’ conference. In addition, there was a human bingo competition which encouraged the participants to meet new people and engage with each other. Across the hall from these engagements were exhibitors including a group of three 13 year old girls who demonstrated 3D programming and Tangeni Kamati, a 3rd year Computer Science  student, who showcased his great invention of a car robot. Participants each received Google goodie bags and had access to free and fast 4G LTE Wi-Fi thanks to Telecom Namibia.

Women in Computing Society

The event concluded with the formation of the Women in Computing (WIC) Society which is aimed at creating a platform where women can host get-together’s, plan activities and share ideas that will assist in the growth of the technological industry in Namibia and Africa at large. Talks are underway on hosting the event every year in February.

 

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2nd Namibian Open Data Hackathon underway

2nd Namibia Open Data Hackathon

The 2nd annual Namibian ‘Open Data’ hackathon is underway at the Namibian Business Innovation Institute’s (NBII) Mobile Lab located on the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) grounds. The hackathon event runs all whole day on the 5th and 6th of March, 2016.  Participants form teams and focus on one of 5 areas of public service delivery to create software enabled solutions to them. Follow up prototype presentations are to be held at 5:30pm at the same venue on Thursday, 10th March, 2016.

Lamech Amugongo working on tracking Windhoek's public transport.
Lamech Amugongo working on tracking Windhoek’s public transport.

“To create awareness around using open data to improve efficiency in Namibian social and civil service delivery.”

The event is organized by Lamech Amugongo, a software developer who has been active in the nascent innovation and open data scene in Namibia, and NBII’s Mobile Lab which provided the space and internet access.

What is ‘Open Data’?

‘Open Data’ refers to the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. In the context of this hackathon that means accessing public data around social services and identifying where improvements using software based solutions could be made.

For example a UK based startup , TransportAPI,  aggregated all British public transport information ranging from bicycle lanes to city underground train schedules into an easily accessible API which is now used to build apps by various municipalities and businesses alike.

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Gervasius Ishuuwa working on the eHealth solution

Over 15 participants attended and created 5 teams that focused on creating software based improvements to service delivery in:

  • Water utility services
  • Medical health based services
  • City public transport services
  • Emergency response services
  • Food Bank access services

Lamech says he created the event to create awareness around using open data to improve efficiency in Namibian social and civil service delivery. Teams will present their prototypes at the Mobile Lab on Wednesday and are expected to present final versions at the national ICT summit taking place later this year.

A highlight of this hackathon event was that teams got to work with smartcitizen.me‘s Arduino kits which include various sensors for environmental data.

The atmosphere at this year’s event was lively with developers fully engaged in the projects they are working on. Participants remarked on how events of this type were sorely needed and must take place more frequently in the future. The event is expected to expand into different regions of Namibia in 2017.

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1st Namibian YouthMobile programming workshop gets underway

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On 11th-23rd November 2015, The Tech Guys in conjunction with P.A.Y. Namibia and UNESCO Namibia held a 10 day YouthMobile Computer Science Principles workshop which culminated in 6 teams presenting 6 Android app prototypes built using the MIT App Inventor IDE.

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17 students took part for an average of 5 hours per day exploring themes from digital literacy to how technology impacts their communities and how programming can be used to solve problems within their own communities. 12313606_775510622576056_8345678228013224713_n

The course material has been adapted from various open source repositories such as csunplugged.org, code.org et al. The aim of the workshop was to build at least 4 Android application prototypes aimed at creating a social impact within their communities. The teams managed to present 6 promising prototypes ranging from an SMS crime alert app to a University of Namibia campus navigation system.

Results from the workshop will be tabulated and discussed in an upcoming stakeholder meeting to be held at the UNESCO house in Windhoek later this week.

The workshop is part of a drive to reform the state of computer programming education in Namibia at a national level and also works as a short feasibility study which is to be extended in 2016.

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5 do’s and don’ts for African tech startups

The first year of founding a startup is a gruelling ordeal in our experience, mostly because 90% of the time we did not know what the hell we were doing. While there are plenty of resources online that document the success methodologies of Silicon Valley startups to guide along budding founders in the developed world, material on startup advice for African tech entrepreneurs is not as ubiquitous. In retrospect, we can see how the lure of Silicon Valley success stories drives many tech entrepreneurs in Africa and across emerging markets to approach the startup founding process with a flowery naievity. We had to wake up and smell the coffee on more than one occasion.

dos-and-donts

This is Africa. Norms in governance, infrastructure, business and culture are NOT the same as western and other developed nations across the globe. Strides in development Africa has made must not be overlooked but we still face huge challenges such as raising internet penetration from around 20%,  empowering 50% who still live below the less than 1 USD/day poverty line and despite success in mobile payment platforms still 70%  of Africans remain unbanked further hindering economic participation. The opportunity to create profitable technologies for energy, transport, education, healthcare and banking are nowhere as lucrative in potential as Africa IMHO.

From our experience the (ongoing) quest of developing a ‘product’ not only involves groin-kick hard and confidence-shattering business lessons but also valuable lessons in cultural understanding and our responsibility as Africans. We had to learn that as fascinating a technology might be, if there is no local context to your solution or if you are not solving the big problems of instilling core competencies in the various baseline economic sectors of African economies then you should probably pivot (or cop out and move to the Valley). The dominant narrative of Silicon Valley’s slew of cloud and mobile success stories (Snapchat, Whatsapp etc…)  lull many an African entrepreneur into the false sense that creating an African equivalent of Facebook will make them rich tomorrow and cure all AIDS in the world. Any tool is only as good as its user and there are many tools created outside of Africa that can be repurposed to solve a problem in Africa but tech startup founders must be prepared to think critically about their solutions by really looking at local and cultural context.

Despite the challenges we face as an African tech startup, we are firm in our belief that harnessing technology to solve Africa’s big problems and create new ecosystems is the single most inspiring aspiration but it requires focus, critical thinking and rigorous planning/execution. We hope that by sharing some of our startup do’s and don’ts(in retrospect after we did the don’ts and missed the do’s) other founders may be able to avoid some of the early pitfalls of founding a tech startup in Africa. AFRICA IS NOT A COUNTRY, conditions differ greatly from country to country so please attempt to see the information through your own local context before applying this advice.

Do’s:

1. Write a business model canvas!

If you have not familiarized yourself with the business model canvas or BMC, it is high time you do so now. Once you have gotten the hang of it, act on it and then use feedback to iterate on it. Until success.

2. Document your process!

Keep track of your development process, even if you are following your own rules. There are many free tools that allow you to set up some sort of workflow from Trello, Asana, Slack, PivotalTracker the list goes on, a web search can go a long way. Documenting your process also has the added benefit of allowing you to hone your process as you go along identifying problem areas  in retrospect and making your workflow more efficient (which believe you me is something you REALLY want to do).

3. Keep the local tech ecosystem informed of what you are doing, stay active on the ground and on social media.

The tech ecosystem in many African countries is only starting to begin to take shape and many  of its pillars such as open data and digital bridges to civil sector are not in place. Community initiatives between startups and startup activity hubs can be used to foster the much needed open source sector of a local tech ecosystem. Engage the players in the tech ecosystem, even if you are competing. Chances are that somewhere in the near future, you will both need access to the same data sources.

4. Prototype fast, then go and talk to the potential user/customer base and your competitors/stakeholders.

Often we spend too much time hypothesising on the hypothesis, developing our blueprint ideas in isolation without getting feedback from users and stakeholder/competition. It might be that in some places engaging stakeholders/competition could be considered against the norm or counter intuitive but it is important to get as many perspectives from relevant product stakeholders concerned. This includes the people who are to use/buy it and the companies that could potentially compete against you.

5. Dream big but start small!

Identify the big problems, look at your local situation and identify where people are not being included, food agriculture, banking, energy, transport, health and education are usually a place good start. Then PICK ONE problem to solve and focus on it by working it from the ground up. Don’t do everything at once, baby steps!

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Don’ts:

1. Don’t assume trends in technology application from the west/developed world are applicable in your local market!

Keep abreast of the happenings in the global tech ecosystem but do not be mislead by nice looking informatics in a The Verge or TechCrunch article. There is a lot of information in western/global tech media that is just not applicable to your local situation. Be inspired by the stories of success but do due diligence when researching feasibility of your startup.

2. Do not prototype before figuring out who your customer/user is!

Identify your target market before you develop a product prototype. ‘Everyone’ is NOT a market. Use local statistics to identify at least one demographic that is reflected in reality. Your prototype might end up serving no one but your own ego if its use is not targeted at a user/customer base.

3. Do not get too enamoured with your idea.

Do not fall so-in-love with your idea that you are unable to let go of it when it needs to change. Your startup must be adaptable to changing conditions as they arise.

4.Do not operate as a non entity, register your business.

Especially in the case when looking for funds in African countries which at many times will come from government sources, they will not understand how you are trying to ‘go lean’ by cutting registration costs. This is of course relative to your locale and situation, still we recommend it for accounting and protection of IP purposes.

5.Do not do set unreasonable deliverables!

Don’t put yourself up to building ‘A Wall of China’ and then cry in deflated pride when you cannot meet the project deadline you set for yourself for end of the week. Be realistic with your milestones, make them doable. If there are 10 deliverables on the project checklist for the week, set yourself up to finishing one rather than four a day. After having built the habit for completion by having small successes, then increase your workload. This ensures you won’t be discouraged by the enormity of your dream and just how far you are from achieving it after hitting your first big obstacle. Small careful steps chained together make a long journey.

AMPION Venture Bus in Namibia

The AMPION Venture Bus competition touched down in Windhoek on the 10th of November with the participants accommodated at the Safari Hotels (who were generous enough to sponsor us a conference hall and free wi-fi on short notice). The actual event hosted by us which included a hackathon and startup pitch sessions took place the next day(11th November) at the NBII Mobile Lab located at the Polytechnic of Namibia Innovation Village.

Ampioneers arriving at the Polytechnic of Namibia's Innovation Village
Ampioneers arriving at the Polytechnic of Namibia’s Innovation Village

36 participants came together to travel from Harare to Cape Town and build 9 startup teams of which E-Maji, a device to monitor biological water contamination at source, was chosen as winner at the final pitch held at AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town. This year saw an awesome batch of participants with various backgrounds from MIT graduates, former Vodacom managers, investment bankers and of course developers from Africa and around the globe.

A total of six Namibian participants qualified to board the bus. Two of those, Anastacia Shipepe of team MEM(a platform to facilitate growth for SME’s in Africa)  and Harry Moon of team DaMark.com (a platform to bridge the gap between formal and informal business sector in Africa) represented Namibia in 2014.

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Ampioneers at the AMPION Venture Bus event in Windhoek.

With help from SAIS, Microsoft,  NBII, Red Bull, Intouch Interactive Media and information.na we managed to host a great event where participants got to hone their startup ideas during the day’s hackathon and a gruelling afternoon pitch session presided over by a local and international panel of judges.

We had the chance to meet some awesome people and facilitate the first Namibian participants and make some noise about startups to get interest in Namibia going. To follow up on the bus coming to Windhoek, we will be facilitating meetings between Namibian and SADC tech hubs to find points of synergy in the upcoming months. We will also be working with local players in innovation to expand the Venture Bus idea in a local context.

Prof. Jurgen Sieck of the Berlin University of Applied Science giving a talk on innovation in the mobile space at the AMPION event in Windhoek.
Prof. Jurgen Sieck of the Berlin University of Applied Science giving a talk on innovation in the mobile space at the AMPION event in Windhoek. Juha Miettinen, CTA of SAIS to his left.

We are also happy to announce that SAIS, Leap Namibia, information.na and Microsoft are already onboard for next year’s bus. We’ll keep you updated on how the movement grows going forward and thank you for your support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPLY NOW FOR THE AMPION VENTURE BUS 2014!

 

What is Venture Bus?

 

40 entrepreneurs on 1 bus for 5 days through 4 African countries! Designers, business experts and developers meet on the Venture Bus and team up (usually into 8 groups) to create innovative startups providing solutions to local challenges in Africa, specifically Namibia in our case. Yes, the Venture Bus is coming to Windhoek! Whoop!

Continue reading “APPLY NOW FOR THE AMPION VENTURE BUS 2014!”

StartupBus Africa 2014 getting ready to kick off!

 

The StartupBus programme was founded in 2010 in the US by  Elias Bizannes on the premise that “Entrepreneurship cannot be taught but we believe it can be learned”. The idea is to put around 40 multi disciplinary entrepreneurs on a bus in a given locale and have them build a company in three to five days after which they pitch their business models/ ideas to a panel of judges and one company gets chosen for funding/acceleration. The big payoff is the networks created by participants who go on to utilize their skills and new found connections back at their respective places of residence and/or business.

Startup Companies
Companies started by StartupBus alumni.

Alumni of the StartupBus competition have spawned some notable startups amongst them Instacart which just recently secured 8.5 million USD in funding from famed Silicon Valley tech VC, Sequoia Capital, Branch which was recently purchased by Facebook for 15 million USD and Sterio.Me which has already partnered with schools across Africa to roll out its pilot programme to help students access educational content over mobile.

Fast forward to 2014 and StartupBus competition is now present on three continents with over 200 participants, but we would like to home in on the StartupBus Africa programme. The first StartupBus Africa competition kicked off in 2013 with a southern African leg touching down in Harare in Zimbabwe  and Joburg, Bloemfontein, Cape Town in South Africa. This year the competition is aggressively expanding, enlisting a whopping 160 entrepreneurs and will include the following countries on the bus routes:

  • West Africa:
  1. Lagos
  2. Benin
  3. Togo
  4. Ghana
  5. Ivory Coast
  • East Africa:
  1. Kenya,
  2. Uganda
  3. Rwanda
  4. Tanzania.
  •  North Africa:
  1. Morocco
  2. Tunisia
  3. Algeria
  • Southern Africa:
  1. Zimbabwe
  2. South Africa
  3. Botswana
  4. Namibia
Startupbus Africa
The Buspreneurs on last year’s trip.

Last years StartupBus Africa competition spawned Workforce a mobile construction labor hiring platform, funeral.ly a funeral management app and Sterio.Me a free educational platform to help teachers engage more with their students through an SMS activated audible quiz. With this years expanded bus routes and many more entrepreneurs there should be many new exciting startups coming from African soil.

On top of their outstanding entrepreneurial skills, the participants bring sound knowledge in IT, web design, new media and business development. They will form interdisciplinary teams and work on different projects during the journey, with focus in 3 key areas: energy, healthcare and education.

StartupBus Africa
The StartupBus process.

 

At least half of the buspreneurs come from Africa and because we believe in the entrepreneurial energy of young women, we strive to have 50% of female buspreneurs on each bus.

Namibia!

To make sure that the bus reaches Namibian roads we need YOUR help. There are several sponsorship options for your organisation or company to become partners in StartupBus Namibia. Please click here get into contact with us or send an email to [email protected]

 

Wikipedia and Indigenous Knowledge Systems

You must expect that from time to time this blog will concern itself with research matters around information systems and issues about their appropriation or adoption in indigenous communities. This is because part of our social development agenda is to create tools that aid indigenous communities. That being said I would like to, albeit at a very high level, deconstruct the implications of participatory computing systems like Wikipedia and the role they play in empowering Namibian communities or the communities of other countries like it. This article is a preamble to a more comprehensive report that I’m working on during the course of the year.

Once A Nomad

With the recent advancements in ICT4D, Namibia has seen many of its indigenous communities receive huge investments
in telecommunication infrastructure. There are many reports that document the progress of this endeavor and I suspect they form part of a greater discourse about the proverbial “bridging the digital divide”. My concern however is not whether rural schools are getting educational necessities like internet but rather the socio-technical issues that come with introducing “foreign technologies” into indigenous communities.

I recently got dragged into the maelstrom of Wikipedia and what it means for indigenous knowledge systems. I’m going to ignore any academic citation red tape right now and tell you that indigenous knowledge is popularly defined as “knowledge acquired by people who have had a long rapport with their environment”. The Himba of Namibia for instance would typically qualify as possessors of indigenous knowledge since their livelihood over the years has relied greatly on knowledge they acquired from living in Southern African environments for a long time.

Jimmy Wales, one of the founders of Wikipedia has described Wikipedia’s grand vision as “creating a world where every person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge”. I’d like to point out that “sum of all human knowledge” is really where it gets tricky. Currently the regulations that control the commission and omission of information into Wikipedia are laden with what we call a systemic bias. This systemic bias is preventing us from aggregating the sum of human knowledge because generally the curators running the show stem from western origins bringing with them western paradigms. This is being promulgated by a few counter intuitive rules they essentially say everyone is allowed to say their say as long as they do it in erudite English.  One rule (notability) for instance requires that any information contributed to Wikipedia is anchored by reliable sources. The problem is reliable sources is defined from an occidental point of view.

To put things in perspective, this essentially means that if you as a Himba wanted to submit an article to Wikipedia documenting a unique customary tradition this article would have to be substantiated by enough notable sources for it to survive Wikipedia’s unforgiving curators. Now, finding reliable source might not be a problem when writing about a particular butterfly in North America since Zoologist or historians have documented the landscape to near exhaustive limits but this is not the case for Namibia. A lot of Namibia’s history or indigenous knowledge is undocumented and what little has been written about it has been written from the view-point of Western settler intelligentsia that introduce a serious narrative bias.
Wikibias?
The entire thing is a Penrose step of never-ending issues, not only socio-technical but sometimes behavioural and cultural as well. With strong cultural underpinnings, we see local value systems clashing violently with those embedded in imported technologies. Perhaps I’m being too idealistic but when we leave this planet for the stars one day I’d like to leave with the wealth of its knowledge on a memory stick and I’m not just talking about knowledge on my favorite composer Frederic Chopin, but also how my ancestors made my favorite traditional drink Oshikundu. Currently, many research groups are experimenting with meta tools that make it easy for potential would-be editors to become frequent contributors. The declining retention rate of editors on English Wikipedia doesn’t help the faint glimmer of hope to encourage contribution to the sum of human knowledge. One would think that to overcome local challenges to the meagre repositories of Indigenous Knowledge we have to wait for a top-down solution but if M-PESA is anything to go by maybe we ought to find local solutions by co-opting a Western technology.

(Note the irony in all the wiki links in this post 😉 )

A chat with founder of MXit, Herman Heunis.

Recently we caught up with Herman Heunis founder of Africa’s biggest social network MXit which now has over 7 million active users. Having made his successful exit from active duties at MXit in 2011, we asked him some questions regarding what it takes to succeed as a tech entrepreneur in Africa today.

TG: You left Namibia for Stellenbosch in the late 70s, how was it being a programmer during that time?

HH: Some background, I was born in Namibia (Rehoboth), my parents had a sheep farm near Kalkrand (My grandparents and great-grandparents were all from Southern Namibia). I matriculated at Jan Mohr in 1976 and in 1977 I started a B.Comm degree at Stellenbosch University. In those years computers filled entire buildings. The 1st time I worked on a computer was in 1977 at Stellenbosch University – Computer Science 101. My career as a programmer started in 1980 whilst I was doing my compulsory 2 year National Service in the SA Navy.

TG: How did you come upon the original idea for MXit? Was it a flash in the pan moment or an iterative process?

HH: It was an iterative process. In a nutshell, the very original idea (root) of MXit was an Astral SMS-based game – I believe it was one of the very first Massive Multiplayer Mobile Game (MMMG) in the world. It did not work due to a number of reasons but the main one, lack to find a sponsor for SMSs. An integral part of the game was communication between players. After several metamorphoses we dropped the game idea and focused only on the communication part – that worked extremely well. Years later we introduced several gaming platforms on top of the communications platform.

TG: What were your biggest challenges as a tech startup in Africa?

HH: Many. Lack of human resources (software developers) was the biggest challenge. Funding, affordable and stable internet bandwidth, unstable platforms (and lack of expertise), the press, mobile operators, etc.

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TG: What in your opinion are the main characteristics a tech startup founder should have?

HH: Perseverance, Passion (for tech), Visionary, Disruptive(Rebellious ?)

TG: There aren’t a lot of tech startups in Africa that have reached the kind of success MXit has, do you think there is a specific reason for this?

HH: Timing was perfect and I had a fantastic team. The word “failure” was never an option.

TG: Is there a particular technology that excites you which you would like to see more innovation by Africans in?

HH: Most technology excites me but currently Energy (solar, batteries, fuel cells, etc) is on the brink of major paradigm shift. I think personal wearable devices, monitoring and recording all sorts of data, will be huge. In Africa we might not have the leading (sometimes called bleeding) edge R&D capabilities, but we surely have the in ingenuity to utilize these inventions and take it to another level.

TG: Do you believe that there is an emerging identity of the African tech user or do you think there is a general global homogenisation due to the critical mass movement of technology adoption around the world?

HH: Strangely I think we have a combination of both right now but that will (should) eventually disappear as the tech space (internet access, devices, user savvy etc.) in Africa gets on par with the rest of the world. Then there are more practical issues such as legislation, e-commerce, language, etc. that tech startups need to consider.

TG: Location is always touted as a major component for tech startup founders to think about when deciding to set up, should African tech startup founders be more wary of where they set themselves up in your opinion?

HH: Tricky question – I think starting up is one thing, building/growing the business is another. Access to infrastructure, HR, users, funding, etc. are important – if your location does not have these, you might have a problem. Having said that, some tech startups will depend more on the ideal location than others. Building a large social network on mobile is different to patenting a new type of battery. Coming back to MXit, I think the fact that MXit started in Stellenbosch was a good choice – access to University graduates, access to funding, access to bandwidth, very large potential userbase (with featured phones) and we knew the mobile Operators landscape pretty well.

I think the mistake we made was to stay in Stellenbosch only, too long. My opinion is that we should have moved our head office in 2007 (2 years after we started) to San Francisco. Maybe we could have been the biggest social network in the world today (bigger than Facebook)? Why do I think it was a mistake? 100 times better access to funding, 1000 times better access to software developers and great NETWORKING opportunities with other similar companies.

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TG: MXit is Africa’s largest social network with over 40 million users worldwide and as a firm employs more than 150 people now, when you made your exit in 2011 did you have misgivings about leaving?

HH: When I started MXit – there was no exit plan. I started MXit as I was passionate about technology. The ride from 2004 to 2011 was very tough and selling a company that you have started is traumatic. Fact of the matter was, I was extremely tired and burned out and staying on as CEO was not in the interest of the company. MXit needed new blood and new energy.

TG: Do you think more African tech founders should be building their startups with exit strategies in mind?

HH: I do not. Cannot do harm but the question is, are you doing it for the money or because of passion?

TG: You have said in previous interviews that you saw your strength in founding rather than managing large companies, does that make you a serial entrepreneur? Are there more ventures for you on the horizon?

There are no ventures on the horizon right now. Am I a serial entrepreneur? I don’t know if starting 2 or 3 businesses makes you one?

TG: What advice would you give young Namibian software developers/ tech entrepreneurs?

HH: Do as much research as you can possibly do. Ask yourself the question, how will my product/service be different. Will it be chat worthy – will people talk about it?

Surround yourself with likeminded, honest people. A startup is not for sissies – doing it solo is tough.

TG: Do you still visit Namibia? Do you have any hopes for the tech sector there?

HH: We visit Namibia many times a year. Recently (13 Dec 2013) I did the Desert Dash 24 hour 369km Mountain bike race from Windhoek to Swakopmund, solo. In October I cycled from Noordoewer to Swakopmund. We go to Kaokoland on a regular basis to do photography.

If you ask an optimist if there is any hope – the answer will always be YES!

ASM.JS to take gaming and big data by storm

Respawning!
Respawning! Console quality gaming for web?

Web gaming is about to get a makeover. The folks over at Mozilla recently came up with asm.js, a subset of the javascript computing language, which allows for compilation of programs on ANY platform at near native compile speeds. In other words this means blazing-fast-rich-big-data web applications on ANY relevant platform or device that has a decent browser and internet connection.

For a more hands on description of what I mean head over to MonsterMadness Online a game developed by Trendy Ent using the Unreal Engine which works on, well…as I said anything purchased in the last five years that has a decent browser on it and a half decent (512kbps for a slightly choppy but playable experience) internet connection. Continue reading “ASM.JS to take gaming and big data by storm”