By now, most of you may have heard about our tech conference that went live about a month ago. If you have not, then you can refer to this intro piece that highlighted a summary of happenings in Nailab in late June. While at it, take a look at the event’s primary website that delves into more details, including participation, our next agenda, and event topics.
We planned to roll out the conference in four stages: a launch in Nairobi that has already happened, a Mombasa fair that took place a couple of days ago (July 14) – for which this piece will discuss, albeit briefly – a Kisumu tour at the lakeside city’s LakeHub on 28th July and the primary event that will be staged in Nairobi in August.
The Tech Tamasha and Techweez team arrived at Swahili Box on a rainy but a hot Saturday morning of July 14, and in the hub was Aly Salim, the Executive Director of Swahili Box. Swahili Box is one of the top incubation hubs in coastal Kenya and has been instrumental in shaping the tech/entrepreneurial ecosystem in Mombasa. According to Ally, the hub mentors and incubates startups, and some of its works have been exported to other towns as well.
Since some of us were meeting Aly for the first time, we grabbed the opportunity to learn a thing or two about the operations of the tech spot. He mentioned his plans to expand the space to accommodate more upcoming tech businesses, a feat that has admittedly been a challenge thanks to limitations of funds.
Asked if potential entrepreneurs are afraid to put their pitches out there, Aly admitted that some startups are openly reluctant to do so for fear of losing their idea and business model to rivals.
“We advise people not to be afraid to pitch because no one can explain a conceptualized idea better than the owner. No one can also run away with what you have in mind. You are the only person who has the best understanding of your product,” remarked Ally.
Techweez’s June Okal supported Ally’s remarks by insisting that there are ways of legally protecting an idea for a startup and that functionally, ideas cannot be stolen because, well, Kenyan laws protect the expression of an idea. Institutions such as the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI) and Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) have since been created to protect trademarks and copyrights, hence should be known to entrepreneurs.
Introductory remarks were then summarized by Martin Gicheru, who insisted that tech startups cannot afford not to be seen and heard in a world where access to information is primarily digital-based.
Our hosts delivered four Swahili Box-bred and interesting pitches. On the panel were five panelists; Martin Gicheru, June Okal of Techweez, Viktor Mutua, the Executive Producer of Tech Tamasha as well as Swahili Box’s Executive Director Aly Salim moderated by Brian Saruni.
Veive and Salon Hunt
The two startups were conceptualized by Emmanuel Beja. The Technical University of Mombasa student started Veive, a social network that targets to use technology to drive tourism in Kenya. Emmanuel says that the tourism industry is yet to achieve its full potential, which is where Veive comes in with a set of features that allow users to post updates and pictures that can be critical in creating engagements and striking curiosity for users who want to explore new places. Users can also use the platform to know what is happening around them, in addition to choosing from options of transport companies to travel with.
“Human beings being naturally explorers and people who love sharing stories have no platform to do exactly this while branding a destination. Veive comes in allowing all parties involved in the travel industry and locals to market destinations using a social media like platform specifically customized for this,” says Veive founder Emmanuel Beja.
SalonHunt, on the other hand, is a platform that locates salons. Potential customers can book for an appointment online/SMS and see ratings of a hair-making premise.
“It is quite common a situation finding ladies struggle on which hairstyle to wear, which hair salon to visit and how long it might take them for this whole making of their hair experience take. This is even worse when they are new to a place. Salonhunt provides information on salons around, hairstyles by the salons and SMS based booking services for salon services,” added Emmanuel.
Salonhunt is undergoing tests but will go live in the coming days.
Guided by the slogan ‘Let’s Tap and Save Lives’, Maishatap, which was pitched by Dennis Onkangi connects people to the nearest health facility. The app uses Google Maps APIs to connect users to hospitals using the shortest routes in case of a medical emergency. Maishatap is available for smartphones, and plans are underway to avail it for feature phones via USSD.
“When a user makes a request, two real-time SMS notifications are sent to the nearest identified medical facility. One to the bottom level medical officer and the other to top level medical officers in that facility. Through the integration of Google map in our platform, navigation to the affected area is clearly shown. Our platform will help reduce the response time upon which users access medication, hence saving lives,” reads a statement on Maishatap’s website.
The last pitch was presented by Patrick, who demonstrated, albeit verbally, the features of DayLight, a video and security analytic software that can predict intrusions. The tool uses AI technologies to record actionable activities. It also runs on its own, hence does not need personnel to manage as seen in traditional video security systems. The use of AI to record what the system detects as an intrusion saves time spent going through hours and hours of footage.
DayLight sends a voice call or SMS to owners once an activity is detected.
Swahili Box was an awesome and interesting tech hub, and Tech Tamasha purposes to create a platform where such stations and their in-house startups can create dialogues with their audience to find ways to connect, engage and build a rapport with their customers. The more we get to know each other, the more likely we are to remember you and this plays an instrumental role when it comes to differentiating startups in a pool of competitors.
Finally, we will be in Kisumu over the weekend, so make arrangement and get to know the Techweez and Tech Tamasha crew.