Getting ready for Tech4Africa tomorrow

Email sent to delegates today, applies to everyone at all Tech4Africa events!

Hi All,

Just a quick note to remind you of a few things for Tech4Africa.

To get the most out of Tech4Africa, you should be doing the following:

  1. ​Arrive early so you miss traffic, and you get parking​
  2. Bring a power supply for your laptop
  3. Bring a 3G dongle, just in case (Always Be Prepared, Scouts motto!)​
  4. Bring business cards so you can network
  5. Bring a notepad​ & pen for notes​, you’ll get distracted by typing something whilst listening to talks
    ​, and it’s easier to walk & write​!
  6. Create an account & setup your own custom schedule:
  7. ​Make sure you know where the rooms are for the talks you want to go to​
  8. Don’t treat it as an easy day out of the office – come prepared to learn and be inspired
  9. ​Bring an open mind​
  10. ​Go to sessions which are out of your comfort zones
  11. ​Sit next to people you don’t know, introduce yourself, say hello!
  12. Have fun!!!​

If you are a speaker:

  1. Make sure you are tweeting about your talk from now until you do it!​
  2. Make sure your talk title is exciting and engaging
  3. ​Make sure your description is accurate​
  4. Make sure you have a picture setup in the schedule
  5. Make sure you post your slide deck online, and tell people so they can download it
  6. Make sure you bring business cards to hand out afterwards
  7. Make sure you arrive at least 30 mins before, and that your presentation is ready to go. There will be music between sessions, so we’re not waiting for anyone if they run late in their session.
  8. Make sure your slides are NOT Death By PowerPoint – if they are, it’s your fault if people walk out of your talk due to boredom
  9. Have fun!!

If you do all of that, it will be awesome!!
​And that’s about it 😉

See you all tomorrow,
Team Tech4Africa​

WomeninTechZA Panel Discussion – Tech4Africa

Despite what you might think if you take a look around, there actually are women in the tech sector. And they’re not just in sales, marketing, or hiding behind a screen coding. They’re engineers, developers, BAs, project managers, founders, CEOs and most everything else.

Samantha Perry, co-founder of WomeninTechZA, an initiative that aims to address the gender diversity gap in the tech sector, will be chairing a panel on WomeninTech at Tech4Africa. Panellists Mich Atagana (managing editor, Memeburn), Ellie Hagopian (CEO, Nomosphere), Shana Kay (CEO, IntelliCred), Lisa Lyhne (executive director, Dariel Solutions) will share their thoughts and experiences, specifically around:

– Why are we battling to attract women to the tech sector? And why can’t we keep them here?

– Why do we need women in tech anyway? If they don’t want to be here we shouldn’t force them?

– How can we start framing the discussion so that we start solving the problem? Debate at present seems to be: “We need more women in tech.” “Ok”.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Florian Aschenbrenner – Scaling from experience

Florian Aschenbrenner will be holding a workshop on how to ensure your infrastructure can grow with your business. It’s something, he says, that not many people think a lot about.

“You start a business, write an app, but you don’t think about how it will handle spikes or increased traffic a few months down the line. For most people it’s about scaling the business not the infrastructure – and that’s what I’ll focus on.”

Aschenbrenner says he will mostly focus on the ecommerce world – it’s where his experience lies. “I’ve worked with Magento, and built similar systems over the past few years that I will be talking about. My 10+ years experience in IT has been mostly about scaling, in one form or another. I’ve had the chance to see a lot of companies grow and had the responsibility to make sure that the systems in use are able to cope with these expansions. I’ve been an advocate of secure, well-documented and user-friendly systems.”

This is his first Tech4Africa, he says. Having worked with founder Gareth Knight over the years, he got interested in the event. “With the topic, and with Africa being an emerging market and more and more start ups coming out of SA… The earlier people start talking about the things you have to do to make a business and its infrastructure scalable the better, and what I’ve learned might be of use to people,” he says.

“I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of people – networking – it’s great to get a lot of viewpoints and learn new things. You might have been working on one thing and missed a lot of other things I can add to my knowledge-base and learn better. It’s great to have a talented pool of people and speakers and be able to see how they doing things.”

Erik Hersman – It’s about the journey

Erik Hersman is the well-known co-founder of Ushahidi, a web mashup built in 2008 to map post-election violence. It’s become a platform and organisation. He’s also a co-founder of iHub – Nairobi’s Innovation Hub – and most recently, BRCK – a rugged solution to connecting in places where electricity and internet access are problematic.

Hersman spoke at the first Tech4Africa, back in 2010, mostly, he says, about the bruises the Ushahidi team had gained on the route to getting where it was at the time. “This time.” He says. “I’ll be talking about the things that happened on the way from Ushahidi to iHub and BRCK – lessons learned – the personal journey.

“I’m also going to talk about how hard hardware is,” he grins. “It’s better to go in with eyes wide shut – not knowing what you don’t know. You need to team up with a lot of people and go through a steep learning curve. We’re still going through challenges, and that’s where the personal part of the journey comes in – dealing with adversity, how to overcome it – and what comes if you stick with things long enough and push – fun things happen after you’ve done a lot of really hard stuff to make it there.”

Having been involved since the first, Hersman says he’s seen the conference evolve into an event that straddles multiple Africa countries, and attended two Tech4Africa events in Kenya.

To first time attendees, he says, “Tell your team/company that you’re going to be doing this event and not answering emails. Be plugged into this thing so you’re there – in body and person.

“Spend time talking to a number of people – a mistake people make is to stay in the crowd they go with. It destroys the opportunity for serendipity that you have. If it’s anything like the first tech4Africa,” he says, “there will be great people there and if you do not get outside your own little bubble you’re hurting yourself.”

Aaron Marshall – What is your purpose?

Aaron Marshall is the founder of Over, one of the world’s most popular photo editing apps. Shortly after the app took off, about 18 months ago, Marshall and his family relocated from the US to Cape Town.

“I like telling stories,” says Marshall, “so my talk at Tech4Africa is going to be some stories from our life and our experience.

Marshall’s talk is entitled: Go Big and Go Home. The keyword, he says, is ‘and’. “I think we live in a really fascinating, opportune time. There are lots of things we can waste our time on. And since life is short, I really want people to be working on meaningful products that are important to them and have a meaningful impact. Not social entrepreneurship – but doing things with meaning and not wasting our best years working on things we don’t care about for people who don’t care.

“I want to inspire people to make things that have real meaning,” he says, “There are so many startups, app this, VC that. It’s not enough to talk about why we are doing something. We need to know ‘what is our purpose here?’ If you don’t have a strong purpose it’s going to crumble and it’s going to hurt. That’s also why I say Go Big and Go Home – there’s no point in building if have no family to go home too. “

Marshall says he’s never been to Johannesburg before and is really looking forward to visiting, as well as having a chance to see (and hug) some old and new friends at the Tech4Africa conference.

Tech4Africa turns five. Feels all grown up and SxSW like.

Tech4Africa turns five. Feels all grown up and SxSW like.

In 2006 when founder Gareth Knight first conceived of Tech4Africa, his vision was to bring SxSW to Africa, so that people wouldn’t have to travel to Austin to soak up the knowledge, inspiration and networking it is well known for.

2010 saw the first event in Johannesburg, and, next week the 5th event will be held in South Africa’s biggest city. Tech4Africa is also in its 4th African city, having been to Nairobi, Lagos and Cape Town so far.

Says Knight: “I’m proud to say that this is the first year where I believe we’re well on our way to being the SxSW of Africa. Because we’ve been able to get the community to submit 258 talks and vote over 14 000 times, we’re able to put out a schedule with 85 speakers in 10 rooms, over two very full days. There’s something for everyone.”

In addition to that, Tech4Africa is putting on a space for people to showcase the weird and wonderful things they are working on – a hacker space, a demo area, a cloud room for people interested in leveraging the cloud, a space for 3d printers, vacuum formers, robots, flying things, solar & green innovations, an electronics showcase, and a BYO (Bring Your Own) product showcase for anyone to demo their products.

Tech4Africa places extra emphasis on networking and social interaction, so, as in previous years, there will be an after party both evenings, and delegates can expect the coffee to be free!

Says Knight: “This year we’ve grown our reach substantially by going to Nairobi, Lagos and Cape Town, and next week in Johannesburg we’re expecting to see 570 people, so it’s going to be fun!”.

The website can be found at and anyone can register at Tickets are R500.