The first Accra Startup Weekend is scheduled to take place from November 18 to 20 at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Ghana’s capital Accra. VC4Africa spoke to Thomas Oppong, one of the organizers of the event.
What is the idea behind the Startup Weekend?
“Startup Weekend is intended to empower individuals and teams to form viable and sustainable high growth firms within 54 hours. The teams formed will be given an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. The best innovative and profitable idea will be awarded in-kind business support to turn the idea to a profitable business. The idea will also be entered into the Global Startup Battle. We intend to connect winning teams with investors for funding to build products out the prototypes that will emerge out of the event.”
Why are you organizing the Accra Startup Weekend?
“I believe it’s about time startup events across Ghana help create businesses that can compete globally like any other startup, especially when its a web or mobile app. Startup Weekend has the potential to create a network of entrepreneurs and investors in Ghana that will build and nurture startups respectively. Ghana has talent but lacks the ‘Y Combinators’ and ‘Techstars’. Young Ghanaians are looking for a lot more opportunities to create sustainable businesses with the help of a vibrant investor community. We are partnering with the new Ghana Angel Investor Network (GAIN to help connect teams out of the event with angel investors.”
What kinds of startups do you see popping up in Ghana now?
“A lot of businesses are being created in the service delivery sector. Consultancy companies are springing up as well. But in recent times young people are taking advantage of web and mobile technologies. The growing mobile market in Africa has made it easy for such businesses to flourish. SMSGH, NandiMobile and a host of others are providing SMS services for customers of most businesses with a large customer base and banks that are providing customer service via SMS.”
What can visitors of the event expect?
“Just like the Startup Weekend slogan “Less Talk, More Action“. Participants should expect to create viable businesses in 54 hours. And we intend to get all the assistance we can amass for the winners to build a company and stick together to make it work. The winning team will have an opportunity to video-pitch to Ghanian angel investors and a Silicon Valley investor for potential funding. Also, it’s an opportunity to network and meet like-minded and passionate individuals is enormous for participants.”
What do you expect from the event?
“I expect lots of ideas and an open opportunity for people to connect with other entrepreneurs and leave with great zeal to start a business and make it work. I would like to see participants who are developing the next big thing with a group of highly motivated and passionate individuals. I expect a successful first Accra Startup Weekend and subsequent replication of Startup Weekend in other cities in Ghana. In the long run I expect to see a network of entrepreneurs and teams across the country that own businesses as a result of the event.”
Do you see Ghana as an entrepreneurial hotbed for the region?
“Ghana is positioned as an entrepreneurship hub and I believe the people of Ghana are ready to take advantage of the political and economic stability. The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, Ghana venture capital Trust Fund, Mobile Web Ghana, Ghana Multimedia Incubator Center and the current launch of the Ghana Angel Investor Network (GAIN) are all great initiatives for the young Ghanaian to create viable businesses. People behind events like Mobile Apps Showcase, Barcamp, TEDx, Google Conferences are also encouraging individuals and teams to take advantage of the growing mobile market in the country and across Africa.”
Do you want to attend Accra Startup Weekend? Register at http://accra.startupweekend.org/tickets/
The event will feature guest speakers and mentors including: Mark Davis (Founder/CEO-Esoko), Solomon Dartey (Director, Ghana Multimedia Incubator Centre (GMIC), George Anti-Ohene (HP Country Director -Ghana) Eyram Tawia (Founder/CEO-Leti Games), Penelope S. Bartels (CEO-InCharge Global), Alex Adjei Bram (General Manager-SMSGH), Ian Ziddah(Product Manager-MTN), Nkoyo Efretei (Senior Partner, Human Capital Development at Organized M.E.S.S. Limited) and many more.
Tickets to the event are now available for purchase at an early bird price of GHC50 per person and GHC35 for students. Grab your tickets before November 16th. Only 90 tickets available.