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Pivot 25 takes Kenyan app to Silicon Valley

Shimba's Technology Steve Mutinda and Symbiotic's Mbugua Njihia will be representing Kenya at San Francisco's DEMO. The two emerged as winners in the inaugural Pivot 25 beating 24 other contestants to impress the judges for the first position. Pivot 25, a two day event that was held in Nairobi this week, saw 25 application developers in five categories present their applications to a panel of judges. The two winners impressed the judges with their team work and organisation in the development of their MedKenya application Mutinda is the developer behind the application while Mbugua manages the economic aspect of the application and markets the application. Mbugua impressed the panel of judges as he clearly presented on the problem case the application tackled, its revenue models and its strategy path. Medkenya will be a web and java mobile application that is targeted at the general population who have little health awareness hence suffer high casualties when illness strikes.Medkenya generates its revenues through four models: subscription health alerts to the public, white labeled applications -- hospital branded and customised applications, a fee to doctors who are listed on the application and newsletters featuring sponsorships from pharmaceuticals. Medical professionals share medical information including first aid tips in exchange for higher ratings.

In addition to the trip to San Francisco's DEMO, MedKenya also got USD 5,000 in prize money for leading the 'applications in mobile health' category. Winners in other categories were Mshop in the 'applications in mobile payments and commerce' category, Whive in ' applications in mobile entertainment, gaming and utilities' category, Uhasibu in 'applications in mobile business and enterprise' category and SchoolSMS in 'applications in mobile govt: agriculture and education' who also got the USD 5,000 cash prize.All 25 finalists also received Nokia N8 mobile phones courtesy of Nokia and Samsung external hard disks.The event also saw great discussions on the role of government in ICT, state of venture capitalists and start ups in Africa. It emerged that the government's procurement system was flawed as it ended up favouring foreign ICT firms over local ones. Mike Macharia, Seven Seas CEO said that the government needed to strengthen local ICT firms and have them grow into regional icons through working with them.John Staley, Equity Banks director of mobile banking and payment innovations says the bank had developed an M-PESA like product four years before M-PESA but could not launch it due to legal and regulatory challenges. "Unfortunately in Africa we are going to be dependent on USSD, whoever controls the SIM card controls the ecosystem," said Staley, adding that Safaricom had a stranglehold on the mobile commerce system in Kenya which locked out other participants. Staley asked the government to enforce an open ecosystem that supported other participants.Phares Kaboro who runs Skunkworks, a Kenyan informal tech association, said that technology firms in the country needed stock market reforms to address them. The current stock market in the country was aid to favour real estate and manufacturing firms.The two day event was organized by Jay Bhalla and the iHub Team led by Erik Herseman. Tanzanian mobile network operator Tigo was the main sponsors with Kenyan Mobile operators giving the event a wide berth. The event though featured heavy representation from other participants in Kenya's telecommunication industry.


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