‘No talk, all action!’ That’s the pay-off for the first Startup Weekend Nairobi which will take place in Kenyans capital this coming weekend: 24 to 26 February. Developers, designers, marketers and product managers have 54 hours to pitch ideas, form collaborations and begin a startup! VC4Africa spoke to one of the initiators of the event Sam Gichuru (picture), director of the Nailab incubator.
One would expect Nairobi to be the first city in Africa to host a Startup Weekend, but Johannesburg, Accra and Lagos were first. How come this is only the first Startup Weekend in Nairobi?
“Nairobi has a bootcamp, a hackerthon and similar events running every other month, so we are not really playing catch up. It did take us a while to get ready for Startup Weekend Nairobi, but what is interesting is that when we did, we had two organizations bidding and an individual as well. We formed a collaboration and the team is headed by Linet Kwamboka, a well talented organizer of tech events.”
Why does Nairobi need an event like this?
“Nairobi is booming with innovations and the Startup Weekend is a good catalyst to these innovations. We need not just this but similar events happening as often as possible. This keeps the ecosystem alive and hence productive. These events help innovators to network and validate their ideas. Also, they get a chance to meet other co-founders and sometimes even secure funding.”
What is it that people with good business ideas need most and how will the Startup Weekend help them?
“Most smart people with good ideas need structures; they need to find a methodology to execute their idea painlessly. Startup Weekend Nairobi will bring along some renown Kenyan businessmen and women who will provide coaching and training to this entrepreneurs. This will enable them to leapfrog some of the common business challenges faced by startups in emerging markets.”
What do you expect from the event?
“We are looking forward to be surprised, the best part about startups in developing countries is that they deal with practical problems that are facing the society. We expect a wide variety of ideas! Some of our guest speakers include Chris Kirubi (31st on Forbes’ list of Africa’s richest men), Paul Kukubo, CEO Kenya ICT Board, Moses Kemiboro from InMobi and Kamal Budhabhatti from Craft Silicon.
Planning has been tough as it is the first event of its kind with high expectations and working with different people with different views, but all of it is culminating to an awesome event that you should not miss. The energy is inspiring.”
Who are behind this Startup Weekend Nairobi?
“The Startup Weekend is being organised by Nailab, an incubator and accelerator next to the iHub, and Growth Africa. Taking lead is Linet Kwamboka a tech event organiser. So get your ticket, it only cost Kshs 2050 (payment by Mpesa), and its on ‘first come first served’ basis. So far all tickets are sold out but we are adding an entirely new batch on 21st Feb – so keep your eyes glued on our website!”