Let’s talk development at Tech4Africa

The countdown has begun, and with less than 2 weeks till the most diverse and unique conference in South African tech history kicks off, all the last minutes plans are being put into place. We can’t wait for the doors to open and introduce you to some of the most prolific speakers from both South Africa as well as internationally.

A big focus at Tech4Africa will be focused on development and how local startups can benefit from learning from some of the best Developers from the biggest platforms around the world. Guys like Dustin Diaz from TwitterJohn Resig from Mozilla are just some of the big names to join us at Tech4Africa.

Jonathan Snook from Yahoo will be looking at how iPhone & Android development are growing rapidly, and how you can create the perfect and usable app. Jonathan comes from a long history of web development and developing apps, and will no doubt share his fantastic knowledge on these topics.

Another session not to miss is by Andy Budd, who is an interaction designer and web standards developer from Brighton, England. Andy leads the user experience team at Clearleft, and will be hosting a session called “Ignore User Experience at your peril”. User experience is essential when developing a new product, and Andy will take us through the steps to ensure it is done 100% correctly.

With Twitter growing daily in leaps in bounds, Lead User interface engineer, Dustin Diaz, will be sharing his tips & tricks when developing with Javascript. In his session called “Unobtrusive interfaces with js” will assist developers in ensuring user interfaces are are always rich & engaging.

Another Javascript ninja, John Resig, will be presenting a session called “6 secrets to becoming a jQuery ninja”, in which John will be showing you the tricks of the trade on how to become the ultimate jQuery ninja. John comes with a wealth of jQuery knowledge is the lead developer of the jQuery Javascript library.

If there is one session you do NOT want to miss at Tech4Africa, it will be the Q&A session with all these guys, joined by Joe Stump from SimpleGeo. Andy Budd, Dustin Diaz, John Resig, Jonathan Snook & Joe Stump will all join in a 1 hour Q&A session panel, where they will be answering your questions as well as answering an interesting question – “What was your hardest challenge, and how did you overcome it?” Be sure to join the guys on the Thursday at 11:00

It’s not only the international chaps who will be sharing their experiences with you, we have a fantastic South African panel called “Ideas are cheap, execution is everything. Live to bootstrap.
The panel will be headed up by Brett Haggard who is joined by Barbara Mallinson from Obami, Eve Dmchowska from Crowdfund,  our very own Gareth Knight from Technovated & Andy Higgins from BidorBuy. The panel will look at how South Africans need to bootstrap their product and without losing perspective or faith.

Last but not least we will also be hosting Erik Hersman who was the man behind the ever popular African open source project Ushahidi, which allows users to crowd source crisis information to be sent via mobile. Erik will share his story on how Ushahidi has grown into the international success it is today.

With a lineup like this, you cannot afford to miss Tech4Africa this year. If you have not registered your place yet, we suggest you do so ASAP. Places are running out fast, this is one conference you do NOT want to miss out on !

SeedCamp selects top African startups

Seedcamp, a European micro seed fund that invests in early stage startup companies, has selected 10 South African technology startups to possibly attend the Seedcamp Week programme held in September in London, UK, where they will be in line for a potential €50,000 investment.

Seedcamp, in conjunction with the Tech4Africa conference, recently put out a call for applications for funding and received over 40 applications from technology startups across South Africa. The 10 selected African entrepreneurs will have a rare opportunity to pitch their businesses at a group of people connected to powerful investors, mentors and startups throughout EMEA, with one team being chosen to take part in Seedcamp Week in London.

Seedcamp offers standard investments of €30,000-50,000 to selected companies and connects next generation developers and entrepreneurs from a network of over 400 top-tier industry mentors.

The 10 selected startups include:
10Layer: The most feature-complete, competent and customisable open source content management system for serious publishers and media houses.

Cobi interactive: An incubator for developing mobile software ideas. Cobi focuses on investing in areas with varying degrees of risk – contract mobile software development, partnerships and their own products.

Cognician: The original thinking guide. A software application that automates complex intellectual tasks by asking you a range of intelligent, thought-provoking questions.

Cred: A micropayments and subscriptions service that allows you to monetise your text, audio or video content. The Cred API can be deployed with any content management system and allows for the purchase and redemption of Cred at content partners.

Feeperfect: Permitting any user to find the mobile contact number of anyone registered on iYam.mobi, using either SMS or the web. Feeperfect are building, and permitting anyone to build, quality SMS services people are willing to pay for.

FloCash: The first cross border Pan African payment network offering basic financial services to the un-banked masses, the platform of choice for facilitating e-commerce and drive the exchange of ideas, people and services between nations.

GetaGreatBoss: We enable great managers to showcase their management strength in order to attract talent and boost their own careers.

Obami: A web-based communication and collaboration platform that’s been developed for use within, and between schools. Obami ensures a safe environment for kids to interact with each other and the adults in their lives. Obami, which is free to schools, believes that helping to expand school life beyond the boundaries of the classroom wall will have a significant impact on Africa’s future.

iSigned.com: Offers secure, permanent online storage, management and sharing for legal & other important documents. Individuals & businesses can use iSigned to store wills, legal agreements, investment records, etc and share them with other parties securely.

Thisarmy: Builds clean, simple & fun web apps.

Twangoo: South Africa’s premier group buying club uses the power of the web to create a platform for its members to access exclusive deals at restaurants, spas, lessons, sports facilities, events etc.

Gareth Knight, managing director at Technovated, the company behind Tech4Africa, says: “It seems that for a long while the disconnect between entrepreneurs, angel-funders, early stage funders and established institutional funders, was a chasm too far to cross. I’m delighted that SeedCamp has come to Africa, to address that issue and create a more aspirational and conducive environment for startups and entrepreneurs. The response and quality of applications has been superb and it’s great to see these companies with disruptive ideas coming out of the woodwork. I hope to see them in London soon!”

Seedcamp is running in conjunction with Tech4Africa, a conference that runs from 12-13 August 2010 at The Forum in Bryanston. The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations.

A stellar line-up of international speakers – including speakers from Twitter, Mozilla and Yahoo! – will be presenting at the conference. Clay Shirky – one of the world’s leading thinkers and writers on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies – will be a keynote speaker. More details are available at http://tech4africa.com.

Winners of the Old Mutual scholarships

Congratulations to the lucky students who won the Old Mutual Scholarships to attend Tech4Africa!

1.Robin Tshepo Putu
2. Henno Gous
3. Mike Changa Sinalo
4. Lennon Chimbumu
5. Joshua Yudaken
6. Peter Brookstein
7. Stéfan van der Walt
8. Travis Noakes
9. Lishen Mabundza
10. Khomotso Lucky Mmapheto
11. Talya Goldberg
12. Cebo Mthembu
13. Tebogo Masilo
14. JT Thom
15. Jono Lewis
16. Kate Ludwig
17. Justin Arenstein

See you at the conference!

7 reasons why you should attend Tech4Africa

Whether you’re an African business person wanting to understand how the Web 2.0 is relevant to the enterprise, an entrepreneur interested in learning more about venture funding or a technologist wanting to learn from the best technical people around, here is how you can benefit from attending Tech4Africa on August 12 and 13, 2010:

#1 – Get global perspective for the African context

Tech4Africa is the first Web, mobile and emerging technology conference of it’s kind in Africa. It will bring together internationally respected speakers and practitioners who are building the Web and technology as we know it, with leading Africans who are themselves paving the way forward.
Speakers will delve into topics like emerging technologies; Web 2.0; mobile, wireless and cloud computing; entrepreneurship; search and marketing.

#2 – Listen to keynote speakers Clay Shirky and Leila Chirayath Janah

Clay Shirky is an experienced speaker on topics related to the Web, social media and the Internet. Shirky has spoken at events such as TED Global, SXSW, the Web 2.0 expo in New York and San Francisco, SES San Jose, the Adobe Learning Summit, New York Tech Meetup and the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Leila Chirayath Janah is the founder and CEO of Samasource, a social business that connects over 800 women, youth, and refugees living in poverty to digital work. Ms. Janah is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship, technology, and international development at institutions including MIT, Stanford, and Harvard. Her work has been profiled by CBC, CNN, The New York Times, and The New Scientist, and in 2010, she was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Women in Technology.

#3 – Listen to globally respected subject matter experts

Top international technologists at the conference will be, among others, Dustin Diaz, a user interface engineer at Twitter and author of JavaScript Design Patterns; Joe Stump, the former lead architect of social news Web site Digg and co-founder of SimpleGeo; John Resig, creator of the popular Javascript library jQuery, and a Javascript tool developer for Mozilla; and Jonathan Snook, a web designer and developer at Yahoo!.

#4 – Listen to African speakers that are leading the way

African technologists such as Steve Vosloo, the 21st century learning fellow for the Shuttleworth Foundation; Barbara Mallinson, founder of educational collaboration platform Obami; Agosta Liko, founder of mobile payment service PesaPal; Erik Hersman, the co-founder of open source crisis information site Ushahidi; Andy Hadfield, an expert in the design of web strategies and online communities; and Nii Simmonds, speaker, consultant, and sustainable evangelist on African entrepreneurship, sustainable technology, and African innovation.

These are just a few of the outstanding African speakers who are going to be present at the conference. Check out our website to see all of them.

#5 – Go to workshops where you can dive into detail with industry leaders

Learn from the best at our workshops on August 10 and 11, 2010. Sessions include “A masterclass in Usability and Accessibility”; “A deep dive into Google Analytics and Adwords”; “A Masterclass in Architecting applications and Advanced Javascript” and “Successful digital projects”.

#6 – Technology networking on steroids

Learn, discuss and share experiences and thoughts with the African technology community during the conference and at the cocktail party. Tech4Africa will be a great place to broaden your knowledge and business network. Checkout the companies that have already bought tickets for the conference.

#7 – Be inspired

Our simple goal is that delegates walk away both informed and inspired. Placing greatest emphasis on learning, interaction, engagement and discussion, we want the conference to be a place for new ideas and to encourage people to make and change things.

Traditional media is dead. Long live traditional media

In a world where we see, on a daily basis, traditional print publications shutting down, media houses are seeing the value of Internet based news sites. In today’s day & age, we live in such a fast paced world, that all too often traditional print publications are only reporting on the stories all too late.

Enter the panel at Tech4Africa, aptly entitled “Traditional media is dead. Long live traditional media”. The panel will be looking at how Africa is following the rest of the world, and how African media is affected by the declining worldwide trend of traditional media.

The panel consists of some of the most respected online news editors & publishers in Africa. Matthew Buckland, who recently left 24.com to start up an African Internet news site: Memeburn, will share his views on how the industry is fast-changing. Also adding his knowledge & experience to the panel is Chris Roper. Chris, who has worked for numerous print & online publications throughout his career,  now heads up the Mail & Guardian news site, will give us insight into how the African online landscape is fast playing catch-up with the rest of the world.
Joining the panel, also from Mail & Guardian, is the current head of technology, Jason Norwood-Young. Jason has been an IT Journalist & Editor for the last 10 years and has been published in numerous publications around South Africa. Finally, Head of Digital for AVUSA Media group Elan Lohmann, will also share his extensive experience of the Digital media world having worked in the online industry for numerous years and companies. Having recently launched the Sowentan live news site, Elan will undoubtedly share his wealth of knowledge with the rest of the  panel.

With only 3 weeks left before Tech4Africa kicks off at the Forum in Johannesburg, time is running out to get registered. Our Early Bird tickets have sold out, but don’t let that stop you from securing your seat. You can register & pay for your spot on the Tech4Africa site.

Talking business at Tech4Africa

Building a tech business based in Africa for the overseas market is not as easy as it may seem, but it can be and is being done.

The more pertinent question though is: is it being done correctly? All too often we hear of new ventures, which have a fantastic concept & idea starting up, only to fail a few months down the line. The main reason being… “No business skills”. Business skills contribute to a huge portion of your businesses success, and it needs to be done correctly from the very beginning.

At Tech4Africa we will be hosting some of the top business leaders in the South African startup space, who will be sharing the stage in 2 panels talking about how to ensure your startup is managed perfectly from the outset.

In the first panel, entitled “Are we fundable”, the panelists will be looking at how you need to ensure that you are being realistic about the product you are building and making sure that out there, there actually is someone wanting to invest in you and your idea. Included in the panel are Andrea Böhmert, who serves on numerous management boards of IT companies in the Western Cape. Also joining Andrea, is Director of DNA Economics, a specialist economics consultancy, Gareth Ochse. The Industrial Development Corporation’s (IDC) Peter Van Der Zee is also seated on the panel. Having invested over R220m in 18 early stage companies in South Africa, Peter will bring a wealth of business knowledge to the table. TED Fellow and African Blogger, Nii Simmonds, will also share his views from an African perspective. Nii, who is an accomplished speaker, also serves on a number boards of startups around Africa. Finally, joining the panel is Invenfin CEO & innovation capitalist Brett Commaille. Brett comes from a fascinating background in investing in new companies, and is sure to share his wealth of knowledge with the rest of the  panel.

Later in the day, our second business focused panel, entitled “Building for the global market. Lessons and learnings from the coalface” will share insights & experience from entrepreneurs who have built startups from the ground in Africa, for the overseas market.
Sheraan Amod from the popular Personera, a company who produces personalised calenders from your pictures on Facebook, will give us his thoughts on how his company has quickly gained international success. Malcolm Hall from Cape Town Software development house, Open Box Software, will lend his expertise and experience of managing various IT consultancy teams around the world. Last but certainly not least the panel is completed with Leila Janah, the Founder and CEO of Samasource, a social business that connects over 800 women, youth, and refugees living in poverty to digital work. Leila has done some amazing work with Samasource, and will share her wealth of knowledge with the delegates at Tech4Africa

These are just some of the successful entrepreneurs who will be joining us at Tech4Africa. Be sure to register for your seat as places are running out fast. Our Early Bird tickets have all been already snapped up, and workshop early bird tickets are nearly sold out too. Miss it, and you miss out!

Tech4Africa raises the networking bar with unique approach to speaker-delegate interaction

Tech4Africa, the Web and emerging technology conference, is breaking with convention by placing special emphasis on networking and direct access to some of the industry’s most internationally-recognised names that make up the events speaker line-up.

The main conference, being hosted at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg on 12 and 13 August 2010, brings luminaries such as Clay Shirky, Andy Budd and Dustin Diaz to Africa to address a gathering such as this for the first time.

“There are very few opportunities for the tech community in Africa to interact with like-minded people, never mind experts who’ve developed global brands or who are brands in their own right,” says Gareth Knight, MD of Technovated, the mastermind behind the event.

“Some of the best international events I’ve attended have promoted informal interaction with speakers and between delegates, and have proven to be the most valuable. And we are looking to replicate that at Tech4Africa.”

In addition to networking events in Cape Town and Johannesburg prior to the conference, the Tech4Africa format and structure have been designed to promote casual ‘corridor conversations’ and chance meetings.

A key element to this approach is that name badges will indicate the delegate’s needs or areas of interest, easily linking funders or investors with start-ups, graduates with companies looking to hire and executives looking for solution providers.

“This facilitates broader conversations, which in our view is where the conference’s real value lies,” says Knight. “Delegates are therefore able to quickly identify potential partners, and easily strike up conversations with people they might not otherwise have approached. The name badges create context and are a great ice-breaker.”

He adds that these types of conversations, as well as the interactive nature of stage presentations, go a long way to helping delegates realise that their problems aren’t unique and that many others grapple with similar challenges.

One session designed to address issues of a decidedly technical nature is the Intimate Q&A with Andy Budd, Dustin Diaz, Joe Stump, John Resig and Jonathan Snook during which they will chat about their own personal experiences, particularly their biggest challenges and how they overcame them. A large portion of the session will be dedicated to taking questions from the audience.

“We want delegates to return from the conference feeling that they have gained full value, which these types of interactions are designed to achieve,” says Knight. “I can speak from personal experience that this will be the case, having attended my fair share of international conferences where I’ve had the opportunity to raise my particular challenges with some of the leading minds in the industry.”

About Tech4Africa

Tech4Africa runs from 12-13 August 2010 at The Forum in Bryanston. Workshops will be held on 10-11 August. The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations. Clay Shirky – one of the world’s leading thinkers and writers on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural Tech4Africa Conference. Shirky joins a stellar line-up of international speakers – including leaders from organisations such as Twitter, Mozilla, digg and Yahoo! – and African technologists from companies such as PesaPal, Ushahidi, Obami and many more.