Last weekend, I attended a Startup Session organized by the Johannesburg Center for Software Engineering (JCSE). On their website the Startup Session organizers describe it as a
“gathering of people that are interested in becoming IT entrepreneurs. Those participants that have a business idea will get a chance to pitch the idea (the elevator pitch). People then volunteer their weekend to help bring an idea that they believe in towards prototype stage.”
Well, it was the first such event I attended. Needless to say, I was quite excited at the idea of meeting other IT professionals of the Johannesburg area. A pre-weekend session was held on Thursday, 17 February 2011 at 18:30pm. I couldn’t attend it since it was held a bit late for me. I mean, knocking off work at 5pm and kind of tired, I really couldn’t find the extra-energy needed to attend the pre-session. However, I understood its merits. The pre-session allows participants to get an overview of the way the weekend startup session will be conducted. It lets everybody understand that they will have to commit themselves, and their weekend, to the startup session.
At any rate, on that nippy Saturday morning I found myself in the Convergence Lab on the first floor of the Chamber of Mines building on West Campus at the University of the Witwatersrand. Prof Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE welcomed me in. Most participants, about 10 of them, were already present. I introduced myself to each one of them, as well as to Mikkel and Jarrod, the event coordinators. After 15 minutes of chatting and getting to know each others fields of work, Prof Barry presented an overview of what the Startup session was about. He also layed down the rules about our use of the Convergence Lab. Wireless connection was set for those with laptops, which gave us access to a pretty good fast connection. This was meant to give us access to all we would need to work on the projects on which we would work during the weekend.
Then Jarrod gave us more information on the event and explained to us how the whole event would be structured. First, each participant would be given a chance to do an elevator pitch of his project idea. He would have only 30 seconds to do so. Afterwards, those participants with no projects of their own, would chose to join the project “pitcher”’s team. Thereafter, each team would work on its project and try to produce demonstrable code by the end of the weekend. For you to get a better idea of how the whole event was structured, here I share with you the event schedule as it was emailed to me by the JCSE:
- Saturday 09:00 – Registration – Chamber of Mines building, Convergence Lab
- 09:30 – Introduction – Convergence Lab, Chamber of Mines
- 10:30 – Decide if you’re “in” or “out” for the rest of the weekend
- 17:00 – Group update
- Sunday 09:00 – Arrive Wits
- 17:00 – Demonstrations
- 17:00 – Wrap-up
I wish I could tell you more about the project on which I worked, but its owner, Mikail, had us sign a privacy clause that forbade us to reveal the project details to anybody. What I can tell you is that it was a project relating to knowledge management and based on a UI supposed to facilitate knowledge visualization. In any such environment as that of Startup session, where many skilled professionals will get to see and hear about your idea, it’s not a bad move than to have your team members sign such a privacy clause.
To find out more about the JCSE follow this link: