Introducing the Jumpstart initiative
January 9, 2012 in Startups
At the beginning of August 2011, the first tech focused BarCamp was held in Harare. It was organized by a group of individuals who all wanted the same thing; a platform to network and share knowledge with other ICT entrepreneurs, software developers, creatives and business guys.
The event was nothing perfect. Being a first such collaborative tech event, the organizing team learnt valuable lessons as they stumbled along; Getting corporate sponsors wasn’t as easy as had been anticipated and some generous sponsors had to come in to rescue the effort last minute. The venue settled for wasn’t the killer venue organizers had hoped for. Turnout was much higher than expected and some attendees had to spend the day on their feet when seats ran out.
Despite all this, everyone that came walked away with something valuable; some knowledge, a new business relationship, some new ideas, a possible solution to explore, and most of all, new confidence and optimism for what the information & communications technology community in Zimbabwe can be. It was an enriching day of discussion, demos (yes, tech startups demoed!) and dialogue about ICT issues in the country and the region, especially those issues affecting entrepreneurs and startups directly.
A great spinoff of the event was the Startup Challenge which was sponsored by Zimbabwe Online. Tech startups pitched and competed for a total prize value of USD 25,000. Half of the money was won as internet services and the other half was cash.
Commenting on the quality of startups that pitched in the challenge, one of the judges, Geoff Goss, later blogged:
…the innovation and skills that were on show far exceeded my expectations… if you had asked me a month ago I would have told you these people no longer existed in Zimbabwe. How wrong can you be?
Another judge, David Behr, also blogged:
I found the whole event to be very rewarding and really opened my eyes to some of the incredible talent we have in Zimbabwe.
The Jumpstart community initiative has been developed out of these events, these realizations, and the need to harness the potential into successful tech businesses and an active tech startup ecosystem in Zimbabwe.
Welcome to Jumpstart!
You can read more about the initiative on the ‘about’ page.