Yesterday was one day filled with startup excitement for us here. We hosted the Techzim Surge conference and the first round of the ZOL Startup Challenge in Harare. It was great reconnecting and meeting anew with some people doing some amazing work in Harare. It was particularly interesting to meet people that had travelled from as far as Chiredzi and Bulawayo to attend the event. We also had a high school student from a school in Glenview (residential area in Harare) at the event. It’s rare to have people still in high school level attending such events, which said a lot about this particular guy.
The first talk of the conference was by Antony Somerset who discussed considerations startups need to make on web and mobile application hosting. He spoke about issues developers need think about around best practice coding (using open source components, code maintainability, revision control systems), security and choosing hosting for an app. We will be uploading his presentation here later.
Next to speak was a local intellectual property lawyer, Brenda Matanga, who helped demystify and explain issues around protecting concepts, trademarks. She spoke about the common IP pitfalls entrepreneurs need to avoid in building their startups.
I delivered the third talk. I spoke on monetisation options available to startups locally and gave a few tips based on my experiences trying to monetise a web business in Zimbabwe. There was a lot of discussion with the audience on display ads revenue, direct selling vs Google ads, subscription based revenue, choosing either to create products for large companies or to create for smaller customers. There was also discussion on producing cheap content that sells vs well researched content that the general reader is usually not keen to consume.
We then crossed over to the ZOL Startup Challenge section of the event. In total 16 startups pitched in this preliminary round and of these 10 were selected as finalists to pitch today to our panel of judges.
Here’s a list of the startups that pitched and made it to the finalists round:
- Spryads – an ad serving platform looking to serve local publishers and advertisers with a local ad exchange that caters to their local needs.
- Frontrowzim – a local schools sports content website providing sports coverage that mainstream media has largely ignored. We’ve covered them here before.
- TestLabs – a platform providing educational test content to schools and individuals looking to get provisional driving licenses. Something interesting that came out of the QnA with them was that even though it seems logical to have such service as an online version, their customers actually prefer an offline PC application (mobile as well we guess) as they don’t have access to good internet.
- Pazviri – a local events listing website.
- EasyChow – A food delivery startup.
- Karibba – an eCommerce virtual mall where retailers in Harare can create their own online shops to mirror their brick and mortar businesses.
- Capu: Mobile Money Management – a platform to allow business to manage their mobile money wallets via a PC, as opposed to the current method of them crunching on a dumb phone.
- Sante – An interactive health app with the aim to improve access to healthcare and tackle the non-communicable diseases challenges.
- Zimbokitchen.com – a local food blog that we covered here sometime back.
- BlacktoeTV – A video blog for Zimbabwean arts & entertainment industry