Startup Weekends are organised everywhere across our globe, and there have been a number of editions in Sub Saharan Africa in the past year. Now Kampala will follow the example of Johannesburg, Lagos, Accra, Nairobi and Dakar. From 27 to 29 April the MTN training centre Ntinda will be the venue of the 54-hour lasting event. VC4Africa spoke to Richard Zulu, one of the organisers.
The first startup event in Kampala was Garage48 in September 2011. Please tell us about the event and what happened to the winners since then?
“Garage48 was held last year and it brought together close to 70 startup-enthusiasts who worked on 11 ideas over the weekend. It was described as the best Garage48 in Africa for 2011 by Garage48 founder Ragnar Sass.
There was a lot of energy and commitment from participants. The winning app was a crowd-funding mobile money app that enables one contribute to disadvantaged children’s education called Somesha. They have now finalized the application and are hoping to launch in about two week’s time.”
Can you describe the startup scene in Uganda?
“The startup scene in Uganda is in it’s very early stages, with a number of individuals starting to get the real grip of what it really means to start up – more so from a business perspective. For many of them, the focus has been on already proven business models in the space like website hosting, networking and computer maintenance. However, individuals are beginning to realize the potential of service delivery with regard to other sectors like entertainment and education on the web and mobile.”
When you look at the startup space in Uganda, what is the biggest need of the entrepreneurs?
“Uganda’s startup scene requires a lot of mentorship and development of business skills in order to have individuals grow their startups, this is the biggest need for now.”
How will the Startup Weekend help them with these needs?
“Startup Weekend has brought together 9 cool mentors from within the business in tech area to provide business coaching to the participants. We believe the participants will benefit a lot from this type of coaching in the very shortest time possible.
We have mentors from a variety of organisations like Google, MTN Uganda, Grameen Foundation, Ringier AG and SMS ONE with a variety of skills in business development, business modelling, strategy, investment, PR, design to mention but a few. We even have a mentor flying in all the way from USA to be part of the event. We really believe that the participants will benefit from the heavy line up of nine mentors.”
What can visitors of the StartupWeekend Kampala expect?
“Participants should expect to be part of an action packed weekend where you are expected to get a lot of work done in a very short time: 54 hours. As said, a good selection of mentors with expertise in strategy, market research, business development etc has been lined up for them and they will have every opportunity to consult with them. More to that, we are working on arrangements to have some of the best promising startups get access to an acceleration program to help them create a very sustainable, profitable business after the weekend.”
Who Ugandan startups should we watch in the coming year?
“As mentioned earlier, the startup scene in Uganda is still in it’s infancy and I cannot mention any successful startups for now, however, there is a lot to show that individuals are starting to get a grip on the whole startup buzz and are working hard to get their ideas out there. I believe in the next year or less, we should have some very good success stories from Uganda.”
How can people contact you?
“People can reach me on richardzulu [at] gmail.com. I am very active on Social networks too, find me on Twitter: @richardzulu.”
The Startup Weekend Kampala registration is filled up with people on the waiting list however, those who would really want to attend can drop Richard an email at kampala [at] startupweekend.org and visit the website for more information.