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Pivot East 2013: "Change your applications as the market evolves"

 Technology on mobile platforms has become interesting and explosive at the same time, according to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), Sub Saharan Africa mobile connections are projected to grow by 20 percent in 2013 because of the creativity around mobile devices. 

In fact Africans have more access to mobile devices than clean drinking water. 

At the 2013 PivotEast in Kampala, Uganda, entrepreneurs and investors are betting on the future of solving African problems around the mobile platform. The first session of the day had start-ups pitching solutions for the education sector, majority of these were developed to help students collaborate and share academic content through virtual arenas.

"Skoobox" one of the application presented has connected over 169 Strathmore University and University of Nairobi students in one week of its launch. The application seeks funds from the investors to increase its network to accommodate more students and to share academic content.

eShule on the other hand convinced the investors that they intend to use 25 percent of the funds they seek from potential investors to develop their mobile platform. eShule offers career and college counseling and alternative eLearning solutions via online courses and exams for high school students. 80 percent of the mobile society category at PivotEast was made of education start-ups.  

Gillies Fayad, Director, Business Development at Qualcomm advised startups not to compete with Google and Facebook, they should concentrate more on differentiating their solutions, then go through the distribution channels which are operators, before targeting the global market.

"Don't be afraid to change your applications as you evolves, because target audiences and markets change", says Fayad.

To gain investors traction on mobile applications, entrepreneurs should present applications that can work across different platforms, show productivity and engagement, and be persistent in developing solutions that work around a specific market environment.

"Entrepreneurs should segment their markets to properly address specific market needs, then build controls that work best around these applications", says Agatha Gikunda, Intel Software Services Lead East Africa in an exclusive interview with CIO East Africa.

Entrepreneurs' personal philosophy also matters on how a start up will fail or succeed, this includes the amount of money that an entrepreneur wants to make in the long run, which is a major decision that needs to be made at an early stage of the start up.

"You can't work smart and avoid working hard", says Ken Njoroge, CEO, Cellulant. "Differentiate your product, investors are always looking for applications that run best across multiple platforms, let the market validate your product".

Njoroge says entrepreneurs need to tell stories of customers that have used their products. "The best pitches are the ones that open with a story that addresses their pain points".

Sleepout.com, from the enterprise category is an SMS driven accommodation market place that assist travellers in obtaining discounted accommodation rates from hotels and vacation rentals.

The site, presented by Mikul Shah, founder of Eat Out, is a platform that connects guests primarily from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America with accommodation hosts in East Africa.


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