Tech4Africa focusses on local content, stories and successes

After 5 years of authentic content, Tech4Africa returns to Johannesburg on the 7th & 8th October for two days of inspiring and engaging talks at the iconic Kalabash. Widely recognised as the SxSW of Africa, Tech4Africa has leveraged it’s community speaker submission platform to uncover and profile local stories, successes and learnings.

Over the two full days, Tech4Africa will be featuring 55 speakers over 12 speaker tracks, a Hackathon for two days before the main event, and alongside the accelerator SW7 a specialist Startup Day “by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs” afterwards. It’s certainly action packed, and there seems to be something for everyone.

Says Gareth Knight, the founder of Tech4Africa: “In 2013 we realised that the local market is very different to the international one, and whilst everyone wants to imitate the Valley hotshots, the reality is that the combination of market size, buying power, skills and access to capital all mean a different playing field for everyone on the ground, and so we narrowed focus on the local stories which make up the local ecosystem.”

Amongst the 55 speaker seesions, Fraser Black and Nicholas Wallander will be talking about the deal behind their investment deal for their ecommerce site “SA Florist” on Dragons Den. Nic Haralambous will be talking about what it’s like to sell a mobile startup and then build a profitable ecommerce business selling socks online and in stores. Steve Evans will be talking about the “Underdog mentaility” and what it takes to bring down established Giants.

Says Knight: “In Cape Town the stories these guys told really resonated with everyone. It’s real, it’s current, and it’s relavant. You’re getting it straight from the proverbial horses mouth, so the learning is fantastic.”

At the end of each of the two days, and as is becoming the norm for Tech4Africa, there is a big focus on networking, having fun and building relationships, so they are going to be putting on a live DJ set, and plenty of free drinks for everyone. Delegates can also expect the coffee to be free!

Says Knight: “This year we’re really excited about the speaker quality we’ve seen start the speaking process. It’s taken a big bet on the ecosystem, and after 3 years it feels like everyone is finally realising that we’re only about good content, not Death by Powerpoint and certainly not snorefests. So this year in Joburg we’re proud to profile a bumper crop of speakers who have amazing experiences to share, and important lessons to impart. We’re ecstatic our speaker submission and voting process is working, and that the local stories are starting to percolate. It’s fantastic content, so we’ll see you there!”

The website can be found at: and anyone can register at Tickets are R500 for the main event on the 7th & 8th October, and R350 for the Startup Day on the 9th October. The Hackathon is FREE, and dates are 5th & 6th October.

A note to (all) Tech4Africa speakers

Just written an email about how speakers should conduct themselves…

Published here for reference:

Don’t make the assumption the audience is dumb. Ever.
Do present compelling content.
Do make the time spent worthwhile.
The best content is a story, a case study or a learning.
The best speakers speak from the heart and through experience, not from a practiced powerpoint.
The best content is 20 to 30 mins long, is uncomplicated, has 3 core messages, and has slides with one single point on each, and no more than 10 slides.
The best speakers have the audience on the edge of their seat, or in the palm of their hands, in the first 5 mins.
Do respect the audience, do respect the time they give to listen.
Do remember that everyone is ahead of someone else, and behind someone else. We are all learning every day. No-one has it all figured out. Well, maybe Elon Musk has a little 😉

Be honest, be open, be curious, be humble and most of all make sure the audience walk away just a little richer for the time they gave you.

Don’t do corporate bullsh!t. People see through it immediately.
Don’t do sales pitches. Everyone has heard them, they are boring. The audience is there to learn something, not pay R500 to get sold to.
Don’t do Death by Powerpoint.
Don’t have a speaker who can’t answer questions.
People see right through suits & ties at an event where people are learning. A tie doesn’t infer seniority. Hopefully you’re not wearing a tie right now.

These are all simple things, but believe me I’ve seen an audience of 6k people turn on Mark Zuckerberg in 15 mins when being interviewed by Sarah Lacy ( and it was a train wreck.
Put a big brand on the stage with poor content, and the audience will turn and tweet about it mercilessly.
Put a big brand on stage, and give the audience something they can chew on, and they will sing their praises all day.

PayPal did it well last year.
XXXXX sent in a sales guy, and the auditorium emptied in 20 mins because he pulled out a powerpoint and told an audience full of tech people that XXXXXXXXXXX….
^^ above to protect the reputations of people who should know better.

Comments welcome.