eMarketing for your business

Fact: Your brand is key to any successful online business.

Your brand is often associated with the product before the person, and making your brand stand out is of utmost importance in the race to be number one on the web. But how do you do this cost effectively yet with the best results ?

One of the must-attend talks at Tech4Africa will show you how to do this. Titled “Brand Building Online”, Super Digital Ninja, Alex Hunter will show you the key to ensuring your business gets ahead and stays ahead of the pack. Hunter, who previously served as the global Head of Online marketing at The Virgin Group, takes us through his experiencing in taking Virgin America to one of the top brands in the Unites States. He now serves as a brand consultant and micro-venture capital investor to numerous companies around the world, and will be sure to share his do’s and dont’s in the world of online marketing and branding.

Later in the day a panel of South African digital marketing guru’s will be sharing the stage to chat about “Search and the Enterprise”. Panelists will share how to ensure your business is number in the search stakes. The panel includes top online marketing agency, Quirk eMarketing CEO Rob Stokes, as well as Tom Van den Berckt from Cape Town based Clicks2Customers. Completing the panel is Pete Brooke-Sumner who gained a local insight while setting up the local Google office, and now runs the Cape Town office of The Media Image.

South Africa’s marketing maven, Walter Pike, will also share his expertise in a panel discussion “There’s an elephant in the room. Embracing the new, social web”, which takes place earlier in the day on the 13th.

Tech4Africa will also host a full day workshop focused on eMarketing, The workshop, titled “Google University” will be facilitated by Sarah Blake from Quirk eMarketing will show delegates the wonderful world of Google Analytics and Google Adwords. Sarah will take you through how to optimise these tools to gain the best return for your business.

With a lineup like this, you will be sure to walk away from Tech4Africa knowing your online marketing skills will be fully enriched.

Be sure to register for the conference soon, as time, as well as places are running out.

From Africa to the world, with love

African technology to compete on a global stage

By Gareth Knight, managing director at Technovated and Tech4Africa conference organiser

Blurb: The landing of a series of undersea cables is going to solve an infrastructural problem that has long plagued Africa and will enable African technology developers to compete on a global stage. In order to properly realise the full potential of a global customer base, African technologists need to not only expose their work to the world, but to also expose themselves to the learnings and insights that the developed world has to offer.

New international submarine communication cables are starting to ring the continent, bringing with them the promise of cheaper broadband across the continent. That means Africa will soon have the infrastructure to be able to compete more effectively in the online space than it did in the past. But Africa has missed out on several years of important learning in this space. Now is the perfect time for African entrepreneurs to embrace business and technical expertise from the rest of the world and close that gap.

An all-too common and incorrect perception in South Africa and other parts of the continent is that African problems are different to those experienced anywhere else in the world, and that they should be addressed with uniquely African solutions. According to this view of the world, international best practices and experiences, especially those from developed countries, are not really applicable to African businesses. That is a misguided and parochial perspective in a world where technology and global trade have shrunk the world to a fraction of its former size.

In high-tech industries, such as Web-focused businesses, there is much that African entrepreneurs, public servants and technicians can learn from international experience. In fact, it’s imperative that African businesses embrace international experience and knowledge if they’re to catch up with what their peers are doing online in the rest of the world.

African challenges

Of course, Africa has infrastructure, political and social challenges that are not present in most parts of the world. Building an online business in an environment where the electricity supply is unreliable and where international bandwidth is slow and expensive is fraught with challenges that don’t exist for an entrepreneur building a business in the heart of Silicon Valley.

But in addition to their superb infrastructure, innovation hubs like the west and east coasts of the USA also offer an unrivaled depth of human capital. Whatever an entrepreneur’s business idea is, there are people around who have the experience and skills to help make it a reality. And of course, the more that experienced people share their skills and knowledge with each other, the more new ideas and concepts they come up with and the more successful they are turning their innovations into commercial products.

By contrast, an African entrepreneur trying to productise a nifty new mobile application or a new online service simply doesn’t have access to many local people who have the skills and experience. There is an abundance of great ideas and enthusiasm but a lack of experience in turning these ideas into commercial products.

There have been a few success stories – innovators such as Mark Shuttleworth, Elon Musk and Vinny Lingham come to mind – but they are exceptions to the rule and their skills are often lost to Africa when their businesses take off. An additional problem that becomes obvious from the above list, is that South Africans dominate the list of obvious success stories while technologists from the rest of Africa do not feature as highly.

Universal lessons

Most of the processes, technology and tools that African entrepreneurs will be using to create Web and mobile products and services will be similar to those used by people in other parts of the world. There are many universal lessons around project management, usability, product development, technology and many other areas that apply anywhere in the world, and they’re ones many American and European pioneers had to learn the hard way. Speccing and configuring a server, designing a good user interface, managing cashflow – these are all things that work the same way anywhere in the world.

So why not learn from international experience? The alternative is to stubbornly waste time and money reinventing the wheel and making the mistakes that others have already made. And that is something that no African entrepreneur can afford to do.

Tech4Africa

The Tech4Africa conference being held in August this year, aims to address the above issues by bringing a number of world famous technologists and African innovators to South Africa to share, teach and interact with Africans looking to make it in the technology space. It’s an exciting time for African technology and the opportunity that Tech4Africa presents is one that really shouldn’t be missed.

If you liked what you read, take a look at this interesting article published by memeburn.com featuring Gareth’s ideas behind the conference: Tech4Africa conference driven by “anger and pride”.

Have your say in the technology community, Expose Tech4Africa

One of our goals for Tech4Africa is to make it an open community for sharing, discussing and promoting the Web, mobile and emerging technologies in Africa.

Although all of us want to listen to the enriching insights and experiences Clay Shirky and other thinkers and entrepreneurs like Erik Hersman have to offer, we know that there are many others out there who are thinking or doing, and which should be highlighted.

So, when looking at the ways we can make Tech4Africa a space for interaction way beyond the conference itself, we decided to give the opportunity to any person in the technology industry in Africa to speak for themselves and show what they think or do to their peers.

We call it Expose Tech4Africa, which is going to start off as a section in the conference’s website, and it will work like this:

Who can participate:

  • Anyone building a product using web, mobile or emerging technology, in Africa – profile your product.
  • Anyone offering services, in web, mobile or emerging technologies, in Africa – profile your company.
  • Anyone looking for funding for their product – tell people why they should fund you.
  • Anyone with something to say about tech in Africa – everyone has an opinion, make yours heard.
  • Anyone that wants to profile themselves, their skills, their passions, and what they’re working on – find collaborators, get hired, find new projects, meet new people.

How to participate:

  1. Record a 5 minute max video or podcast showcasing your product, service, start-up, or your thoughts on any Tech4Africa related topic of your expertise.
  2. Send us an email to “hello@t4a” with a little intro about yourself, and what your post is about. Also, include your contact details.
  3. We’ll either send you FTP details to upload, or ask you for the file location to download.
  4. We will then post the video in the Tech4Africa community page on our website, in a post on our blog, and in the Tech4Africa channel in Zoopy.
  5. We’ll then Tweet and Blog about it for you.
  6. We’ll leave the rest to the magic of social interaction.

Helpful tips:

  1. Have an opinion, be provocative, say something worth listening to.
  2. Keep your points succinct, to the point, and try not to waffle.
  3. Do it somewhere quiet, so background noise doesn’t get in the way. Try not to shake the video either.
  4. Audacity is great for recording audio, and is free.
  5. Record video with your phone, Skype or any other default video recorder, then upload.  Your video does not need to be studio quality.
  6. Get some friends to have a look / listen before you send.

We encourage you to take this opportunity to make yourself be heard and share your knowledge or experiences. We’re excited about this idea and we hope it can trigger more  conversation among all those working in the African tech industry.

Over to you 😉

Infrastructure: Mobile & Wireless at Tech4Africa

Living in today’s day and age we are bombarded with new information all the time. Community news from users on platforms such as Twitter, are breaking news before as it happens. The issue with this though, is that we are not always connected. We rely on mobile connectivity and wireless infrastructure to try and keep us connected as efficiently as possible.

At Tech4Africa, we will be discussing some of the key factors when it comes to Mobile & Wireless connectivity in South Africa & Africa.

Some of the great speakers talking about Mobile & Wireless infrastructure include Agosto Liko, Patrick Kayton, South African Internet guru Arthur GoldStuck & Angus Robinson amongst others.

The indomitable Justin Spratt will also be sharing his views in a session called “Circumventing Monopolies with VoIP and Wireless”, where he will be taking a look at how the fixed line monopolies of Africa are rapidly being overtaken by new Mobile & Wireless technologies.

Another fantastic session scheduled for later in the day, on the 1st day of the conference, is a panel discussion aptly titled “Mobile Content for Grownups, Being Clever with the simple”. Panelists include Steve Vosloo from the Shuttleworth Foundation, Fritz Ekowge & Stefan Magadalinski representing Kenya’s largest Mobile directory, Mocality, are just some of the big names talking about how our “mobile lives” have changed since the grand old Nokia 3210 ring tone days. Content is important today and they will look at where the mobile industry is going, and how to ensure it is world class.

These are just some of the exciting Mobile and Wireless infrastructure talks you can look forward to at Tech4Africa. Check our full schedule to find our more.

We are also running workshops (10th and 11th of August) featuring some of the best world’s leading minds in the fields of technology architecture, user-interface and product development; check them out here.

Be sure to register soon, as the early bird tickets are being scooped up rather quickly.

Image by Creative Commons / Google (Image)

Web 2.0 at Tech4Africa

Are you interested in the Web 2.0 and its applications in Africa?

One of the key subjects of Tech4Africa is the social web, on which recognized international and local thinkers will share their knowledge and experiences. The focus will be on the state and potential of Web 2.0 in Africa.

Clay Shirky, one of Tech4Africa’s keynote speakers, talks about the social and economic effects of Internet technologies, while our other keynote speaker, Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, certainly has something to say about collaborative platforms and publishing on the Web.

Moreover, leading African thinkers and practitioners will talk on There’s an elephant in the room. Embracing the new, social web, 6 Secrets to becoming a jQuery ninja”, How we redesigned a well known site, and why you need to know and Unobtrusive interfaces with Javascript. They will take attendees through what Web 2.0 and Social Media means for business and consumers, and what to do about it in Africa. More on them on the Speakers’ list.

Apart from Social Media and Web 2.0, many other relevant areas will be covered at Tech4Africa, like emerging technologies; mobile, wireless and cloud computing; entrepreneurship; search and marketing. Attendees will get a global perspective on the present and future of the technology in Africa. Check out our schedule to find talks interesting to you.

To complete the event, Tech4Africa offers two full days of workshops and will be hosting Seedcamp,  a micro seed fund to invest in startup companies, for the first time in Africa.

You can take advantage of a few options to sign up, from discounted tickets for early birds, to participating in draws for free tickets.

Hurry up and register now!

Seedcamp to jump-start African tech entrepreneurs

Seedcamp, a European micro seed fund that invests in early stage startup companies, will be attending the Tech4Africa conference in August this year to identify African startups for potential investment and an opportunity to attend the Seedcamp Week programme held in September in London, UK. This marks the first time that a Mini Seedcamp programme will be hosted in Africa.

A few 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, where its founders will gain exposure to investors and world-class mentors.

Seedcamp is a programme created to jumpstart the entrepreneurial community in Europe, Middle East and Africa by connecting next generation developers and entrepreneurs from a network of over 400 top-tier industry mentors.

It acts as a micro seed fund to invest in startup companies, offering standard investments of €30,000-50,000 to selected companies. The initiative’s flagship event, Seedcamp Week, takes place in London in September every year, and it is here where beneficiaries for the post-3 month programme are chosen.

Following Seedcamp Week, the companies who receive investment stay in London for three months to grow and develop their company, building key and lasting business relationships along the way to help them sustain a viable business.

Reshma Sohoni, CEO at Seedcamp, said about the upcoming event: “We want to provide a catalyst for the next generation of African entrepreneurs and help them take risks, think big, and succeed. Our programme provides entrepreneurs with access to seed funding but also more importantly, gives them exposure to the collective experience of people who can help them to build successful businesses.”

Or as Gareth Knight, managing director at Technovated, the company that is organising Tech4Africa, put it: “In addition to a direct route to seed and venture capital, companies that participate in Seedcamp get enormous validation and access to a world-class network of advisors that help them with every aspect of their businesses”.

Applications open on the 5th July, and close on the 23rd July. Judging will then take place, with teams notified around 2-6th August. Places will be limited to 10 startups. African entrepreneurs that want to apply for the Mini Seedcamp Africa programme will be able to do it through the Tech4Africa Seedcamp page.

The successful applicants will have opportunities to interact with Seedcamp mentors and to present their businesses to Seedcamp. A committee may choose one startup to attend Seedcamp Week in London.

Tech4Africa lighting the spark of the African Web

While the Web continues to grow apace, new business models disrupt traditional ones, social applications dominate our thinking, investment funds innovation. Africa however remains largely untapped, apart and unspoken for. That doesn’t mean Africa is without talent, opportunity, or influence on the global web.

That is why Tech4Africa comes along to become the first Web, mobile and emerging technology conference of its kind in South Africa, bringing global perspective to the African context. The conference will be taking place in Johannesburg at The Forum on August 12-13, 2010.

Tech4Africa focuses on the role mobile, emerging and Web technologies have to play in Africa. Speakers will delve into the funding landscape in Africa and what cloud computing, Web 2.0, the mobile Internet, and other emerging technologies mean for businesses and society.

The event 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.

The keynote speaker, 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.

Other top technologists at the conference include Dustin Diaz, Joe Stump, and John Resig, among other top-notch technologists and entrepreneurs. Check out the amazing line up of speakers here; there are more to follow.

As such, the conference promises to be a pioneering and intimate affair, congregating digital elite for the first time in Africa.
The focus is on interaction, discussion and sharing with attendees the future of the Web and emerging technology in Africa, and the role Africans can and are playing globally.

Hope to see you there!