All posts tagged silicon valley


The Lagos Tech Scene Needs Sharing Culture To Grow – Mark Essien

Editor’s Note: Mark Essien is the founder of Hotels. You can follow him on Twitter here, and this post first appeared on his Medium.

Without a doubt, Silicon Valley is the greatest tech eco-system in the world. It’s not just in name — the concrete results it shows are extremely impressive.

Such eco-systems can be recreated in other places, e.g in Lagos. However, for that to happen, things have to change.

I recently read a blog post about Poker, and there was a very insightful concept in there — people are playing poker in far more technical and advanced ways. The reasons are because:

1. Far more people are playing
2. The new people are bringing new ideas
3. People are building on top of ideas to create even newer ideas — and those ideas are learnt by everyone in the ecosystem

As a result, the knowledge available in the ecosystem keeps moving forward, allowing the solving of previously unsolvable problems.

There is a flaw in the Nigerian, Lagos tech scene. People are not sharing ideas and lessons learnt. Nobody is providing concrete information on how they are solving their payment issues, how they are solving logistics, etc.

The successful founders retreat behind fences and work there in silence, hoping nobody hears about their success, so there won’t be too much competition. The successful ones do preach, but never about the concrete details and the dos and don’ts.

SEE ALSO: Inspiring Stories From The OTEKBITS Founder Series

Also, geographically, tech is spread out over an impractically large area. Lagos is big because of traffic problems. Getting from one tiny cluster to another is not as easy as taking a walk. There is great value in a community meeting and sharing ideas, and I don’t really see that happen, in part I believe because of how inconvenient it is to move from place to place, and because casual bump-into-the-other rarely happens.

Another negative trend I notice happening is this x vs y stories being written. It’s nobody against anybody else. It’s tech vs the market. The market is the real enemy. Tech should not be in-fighting, they should be strategizing on how to conquer the market from the offline folk. If e-commerce moves online, it does not mean either Jumia or Konga would die, it means they would both be making a whole lot more money. The battle is in moving shoppers online, not in who wins the tiny percentage of people already online.

What technology needs is collaboration and openness on methods. Tech needs to be about sharing ideas.


DEMO Africa: Maliyo Games, mPawa, Others Head Straight To Silicon Valley

Good ideas, excellent execution, a growing market and good investment are the key factors that will move African start-ups to the next level – DEMO Africa started a project to put these tools together to create a world class product/business. They organized a round table meetingwith over 40 participants, from investor bodies to business owners and international brands, and discussed this issue.

After this, 40 out of 500 Tech start-ups were announced to be launched with DEMO Africa in an event which held from 24 October, 2012 in KICC Nairobi, Kenya. After the pitching sessions, the judges declared that Maliyo Games, mPawa, Flowgear, Qabila and Sasa Africa emerged winners. This qualified them for mentorship and exposure to potential investors

Maliyo Games was the only gaming entrant in DEMO Africa. Oluseye Soyode-Johnson, (Co-Founder, Maliyo Games), of the Lagos, Nigeria based company, says that Africans are in need of locally relevant multimedia content. This, he says, is evident from the multi-million dollar film and song industry in Nigeria. As a result, he believes that a casual gaming platform providing African themed games on mobile and PC has potential. Among such games is mosquito smasher, a game where players squash mosquitoes across various levels. This game also has multi choice quiz on mosquitoes and malaria in between levels as an aspect of its social impact. Maliyo games says the casual gaming industry is worth $20 billion; the startup is seeking $300,000 in funding.

mPawa is a job matching service that connects companies with blue collar workers. An application developed by, Innokiq, the overall idea of mPawa is to bridge the gap that exists in the current blue collar recruitment space by getting blue collar workers into a centralized location and allowing employers to easily reach them. mPawa is based in Accra, Ghana and co-founded by Maxwell Kofi Efrem Donkor, Anthony Agyekum-Mensah, Nancy Neizer and Shadrack Boadu. Maxwell says mPawa has already matched 2,000 job seekers in the last 3 months and has raised $90,000. They are now looking to raise $100,000.

Flowgear makes it possible for business applications to talk to each other. With Flowgear, there is the freedom to choose from almost any combination of software systems to run a business without worrying about how to share information between them. Flowgear was developed in Gauteng, South Africa and co-founded by Daniel Chilcott and JJ Milner.

Qabila is a multimedia content crowd sourcing platform based in Cairo, Egypt and co-founded by Mahmoud Elshafie, Perihan AbouZeid, Mostafa Saeed, Amar Abu Shady and Ahmad Fatehlab. Perihan says that Qabila came about as a platform to provide better content than what was being shown on Egyptian TV. The platform was founded around the Egyptian Arab spring and rose in popularity with their content being featured in Al Jazeera. Qabila currently has 20,000 contributors and current clients include the World Bank, UNESCO and UNDP. The start-up has funded itself to date and is looking for an additional $250,000 in funding.

Sasa Africa is an e-commerce platform connecting offline crafts persons to online consumers. Through the use of a mobile phones, craftspeople upload their products via SMS and MMS; consumers can then find the various crafts on After a product is bought and paid for, the crafts person receives a text message. They then have 48 hours to take the product to a mobile money kiosk where they are also able to collect their payments. The start-up currently retails jewellery. Sasa Africa has so far been in testing and plans to launch in the coming week. Based in Nairobi, Kenya and founded by Ella Peinovich, Catherine Mahugu and Gwendolyn Floyd, the start-up predicts it will have 600 retailers and 3500 products by year end. Sasa Africa has raised $125,000 through grants and prizes and is looking at raising $500,000. SasaAfrica’s target is 84 percent of women in Sub Saharan Africa who, it says, work in the informal sector, hoping to serve 100,000 artisans by 2015.

OTEKBITS will be working to interview each startup; don’t miss out, subscribe today for more.

[Content Source, Image Source]


Upping Our Collective Game Part 2 – Can We Create Our Own Silicon Valley?

A few months ago, I went to the E-Center in Yaba to hang out with OoTheNigerian. He told me to meet him at a self service laundry in the building, run by his friend, Ebun Okubanjo. I entered the place, and the first thing I noticed was that it had Wi-Fi for it’s customers — Oo was there working on his computer, and there were a couple of other people using their tablets. And surprise, surprise, there were a bunch of guys, including the laundry’s owner, drinking beer and arguing about technology.

I got to learn that Ebun is a closet techie, and not only did I have a great time arguing loudly with him, I got to meet a number of smart guys in local tech, including the co-founder of Private Property, and we exchanged cards. On my way home that night, I remember thinking — how cool it would be if that sort of gig happened every night, but in many more informal, nondescript settings just like that laundry?

Personally, I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood where there’s hackers who live downstairs, a gadget shop across the road, and a cafe with free Wi-Fi just around the corner. Time has been devoted to the study of whether or not geography does fuel innovation, and it’s been found not only is geography a strong factor, innovation is also inherently a social process.

Think about it. What if we could have a proliferation of informal focus points where devs can go to hang out simply because there’ll be a lot of other devs, VCs, inspirational figures, free wi-fi and such there too? They wouldn’t just skulk around there, they’d be going about their normal business — eating, working, having meetings, buying groceries or just hanging out at these places.

These places won’t carry the official label of “hubs”, but that’s what they’ll be, nonetheless. Get nerds, VCs and business types to hang out in these sorts of places long enough, and boom — Silicon Valley. And if I had to choose a particular location where that sort of thing is most likely to evolve right now, it would be the Yaba/Surulere axis.

Not only is that area a central location in Lagos, it is silently becoming a hot bed of startups, modern business, and technology concerns. There’s Paga, Private Property, Bloovue, Wakanow, and many more tech startups than I can recollect right now, in that area. There areat least two notable higher institutions — the University of Lagos, and the Yaba College of Technology. Don’t forget, the almighty Co Creation Hub sits right in the middle. And then there are scads of what I’ll describe as tech-complementary businesses, like cafes, delis, malls, and laundries, scattered around. Just throw some free Wi-Fi into each of those places, and watch the nerds troop in.

While I think that in a way, the whole of Lagos is our own Silicon Valley, I daresay the Yaba/Surulere axis could have the makings of our own bay area-type innovation cluster. To quote a friend on Twitter, we could call it Silicon Nalley. But even beyond that corny quip, just take a look at the CCHub’s Lagos innovation map to get an idea of how a potentially explosive mix of creative, academic and technology businesses are clustering around Yaba and Surulere.

Sure the area has it’s own issues. It’s certainly not the most beautiful, the most high brow or the most serene part of Lagos for starters. And it’s got more than its fair share of traffic snarls, due to the high volume of business and traffic to and from the Island. And like an entrepreneur I talked to recently observed, vacant office space in that area is more common that unicorns. Housing isn’t easy to find either.

I still think the place  has some essential stuff going for it however. The area is fairly middle class, and things are generally priced more sanely than on the  vaunted Lagos Island, which puts the cost of living within better reach of geeks on a budget. There’s a lot of high level business activity going on there, in almost any sector you can imagine. It’s got not one, but three academic institutions, if you count the College of Education that is also just a stone throw away from UNILAG.

Replicating Silicon Valley is hard because it’s difficult to get the necessary ingredients together. To create another Silicon valley, you’d have to find lots of nerds, lots of investors, and then figure out how to get them to live in a place that is conducive to startup activity. That it won’t be easy is the understatement of the year. However, Yaba/Lere seem to have some of these elements in place. Definitely not at the right mix or levels, but the area has a better chance of becoming a Nigerian Silicon Valley than any other I can think of. The universities aren’t quite pulling their weight, but they are there. There are businesses there, but a few more VC-focused ones wouldn’t hurt. And if I search more, I’m certain I’ll find more  interesting places like Ebun’s Wi-Fi enabled laundry.

This Silicon Nalley idea might have a fairly quixotic ring to it, but I think it’s worth a thought, especially if we could somehow find a way to deliberately stimulate startup hotspot growth, not just in Yaba/Lere, but in other parts of Lagos and across the country. What do you think?

I plan to visit Ebun’s laundry more often in the days to come. If you’re gonna show up, be sure to bring your dirty clothes too. One last thing. If you’re into tech, happen to be in the Yaba/Lere area, you wanna hang out sometime, and don’t mind buying your own drinks/booze, I’m always up for that —  just holla.

Apple Removed YouTube from iOS 6

When would the rift between Apple and Google over patent application and services come to an end? Apple has announced (on Monday, 6th August, 2012) that the new iOS 6 operating system which powers iPads and iPhones would be missing the YouTube application which is owned by Google Inc.

Apple said in a statement that “our license to include the YouTube app in iOS has ended.” It added that owners of its devices would be able to use their Web browsers to view YouTube videos, and that Google was working on a new YouTube app that would be available through the Apple App Store.

Read more…

Google’s Goggles – Guest Post by Areade Dare

Editor’s Note: This post is by Areade Dare,  a Research Analyst at Financial Derivatives Company Limited. You can follow him on Facebook and LinkedIn.  You can also check out his blog. Enjoy the piece.

A few months ago, it was reported that a certain Mountain View-based company was making some Augmented Reality Glasses called “Project Glass” (Hint: The company’s name rhymes with “doodle”). The product is one of many projects conceived in Google’s clandestine laboratory named “Google X.”

Read more…

Facebook Growth Declines. What Shall We Make Of This?

There is this saying, what goes up must come down! has it finally come down for the hugely successful network? This news will bode well with the anti-Facebook campaigners, rivals of the hugely successfully social media network Facebook.

Facebook Inc, founded by Mark Zuckerberg and some of his friends in 2004 and based in Palo Alto, California. Facebook has nearly a billion users worldwide, a convergence of young and old, rich or poor, smart and dumbass. According to statistics from Com Score, 2012 has the slowest growth rate for Facebook since Com score began taking data.

Read more…

Yammer Agrees to Sell Itself to Microsoft for $1.2 billion

Business-software company Yammer Inc. agreed to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. for $1.2 billion, according a person familiar with the matter, in a sign Microsoft may be trying to plug holes in its ubiquitous Office software.

It is unclear when the Yammer acquisition will be completed and announced, according to the person familiar with the deal. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment. Representatives for Yammer didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Read more…

How To Sort The Good Venture Capitalist From The Bad

Editor’s Note: Let’s face it. Most startup dread the abbreviation VC, even if it may turn out to be Vice Chancellor, or Vice Chairman. It’s always Venture Capitalist the come to mind. Funny thing is everybody wants to be one, but nobody want to have to face one. Read the article below and your ‘VC Dread’ gauge should fall. 

Venture capital offers a welcome boost for many entrepreneurs. It pays to exercise caution when seeking financiers though. Here’s how to tell a good venture capitalist from one you should avoid.

Read more…


Hot or Not? Features of The Facebook Phone

The Facebook phone does exist. The phone comes with everything you would expect. You can post status updates from the home screen. The contacts list is populated with your Facebook friends.

With the click of a button, you can access your profile or see your news feed. You can take photos with it and upload them directly to Facebook, and you can chat with your friends. It even comes with its own browser baked in – and, funnily enough, it’s made by Opera.

Read more…

What About The Facebook’ Camera• App? It’s Got A New Name

Facebook bought Instagram for $1Billion and then rolled out its Camera App afterwards. Now that’s a little bit confusing for me. Did it buy Instagram to kill it to have the Facebook camera app reign supreme (with or without the Instagram technology)?

When Facebook launched its Camera app, many of us noticed that when it was displayed on your home screen, it simply said “Camera”. How could Apple let them get away with that, as its the same name as their own built-in app?

Read more…