EU: Africa The Post Crisis Journey took place on 10-13 December 2020. It was 72h of hard work, team building, creating business plans, and absorbing tons of new knowledge. After a couple of sleepless nights and adrenaline fuelling the body, prototypes were ready. Winners were announced and victory celebrated. But what came next?
As we’re preparing for the 2021 edition of the hackathon and conference, our communications team member Liis Paemurru checked in with the last year’s winners. It is very impressive how far the teams have come. From piloting platforms, hiring employees to the very first clients and partnerships, the experience has opened up a lot of doors for our participants.
We are happy to share, what the teams have been up to since the hackathon ended, what was their experience like and what lessons did they learn?
WINNERS OF THE JOB SECURITY CATEGORY; 10TH PLACE OVERALL
What was initially a team of two women in Estonia, ended up a fully functioning team of tech, design and product people also from Nigeria and Rwanda. UmbrellaTree Colab is trying to solve the problem around the lack of representation of women in the Africa tech industries.
Their strongest memory was from the last night of the hackathon where the team pulled an all-nighter to prepare for the final demo and presentation. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, yet they still made it through and managed to reach the TOP10 of 315 teams.
The announcement of making it to the TOP20, the announcement and blessing from the founder of FinEst Bay Area Peter Vesterbacka that they had won the Job Security category, and finally being awarded the 10th place overall, were each unbelievable. They were simply astonished at what the team could achieve in only 3 days.
They learned that anything is possible and the whole team is able to push the performance to the next level. “You really can turn an idea into reality by building a base for it in just 72h,” commented Tiina Rootamm, co-founder of UmbrellaTree Colab.
After the hackathon, they participated in the pre-accelerator and created a prototype for the platform. The team now consists of 7 people with a focus on the Nigerian market, where they launch the pilot soon. They have been invited to panel discussions, have organized webinars and workshops and pitched their startup in many international events, including African ICT Foundation (Nigeria), TechStars Startup Week, Africa Chamber of Digital Commerce and many more.
WINNERS OF THE SMART CITIES CATEGORY; 3RD PLACE OVERALL
During the hackathon, Ringolo was tackling recycling. Specifically, smart cities' solutions to promoting proper waste recycling. The man behind the idea was Emmanuel Mensah Boateng, who after mockups and prototyping, was able to form a team. The most memorable thing for him from the Hackathon was completing the pitch video late in the night just about 15 minutes until the deadline. That’s the hackathon spirit!
After the Hackathon, they’ve had several opportunities to pitch the solution, gather great feedback and now are focusing on the back-end processes. Besides having a product, they realized that to enter the market, they’d also need to work on a proper policy. Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID crisis has set some restraints on that. In addition, teamwork has been hectic as many team members are working in different time zones. Nevertheless, they’re continuing to work towards their mission of a cleaner world.
Some advice for the people who join the Hackathon for the first time? Emmanuel says that the most important factor is building the right team with true dedication. These people have to be touched by your mission and ready to pursue it after the 48-hour marathon ends.
“All teams are groups, but not all groups are teams.”
WINNERS OF THE EDUCATION CATEGORY
Ohmni joined the Hackathon as a fast-track solution to deal with the pedagogical discontinuity challenge that emerged during the COVID-19 crisis. The team consisted of teachers, web developers, and data analysts. What was merely an idea before, turned into a real result during the Hackathon. One of the team members, Petra Wase, is especially grateful for the friendly and very available mentor Kaari Kink, who helped to develop their platform into a selling solution.
At the moment, Ohmni has 3000 users and the numbers are growing. By the next academic year, the marketing results show that this number will double and reach even as high as 7000 users. What an amazing achievement!
What has the Hackathon experience taught them? The Ohmni team says they learned resilience, a capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Despite the obstacles they faced, the team managed to finalize the prototype of their platform and the integration of the OHMNI Kit (solar-powered nano server) within three days.
WINNERS OF THE E-GOVERNANCE CATEGORY; 4TH PLACE OVERALL
TalkAmNaija started off as a team of four people with a goal to promote inclusive and participatory governance in Nigeria. They noticed there was a missing middle man between the authorities and people to guide discussion and forming a relationship. Their goal was, and still is, to promote citizens’ accountability, proactiveness, and responsibility in the area of maintaining public infrastructures.
During the hackathon, the team met experts who helped them better understand the problem they were trying to address. They also learned how to construct a proper business plan. The post-hackathon 6-week acceleration training helped them refine their ideas and prune the focus to a single public issue. The days and nights spent together with team members and mentors, and the meetings are fond memories to remember.
“Hackathons are time-demanding but very rewarding. If you are consistent, you can become the next Mark Zuckerberg. Hackathons give you the leverage for moving quickly with your brilliant idea. You test, refine, and place your idea on the path to deployment.”
TalkAmNaija Team Member
Even though they are still moving towards deploying their MVP, they have already passed impressive milestones. While building the product, they’ve grown the team from 4 to 6. They also continue to create and drive awareness on the topic. They have an active LinkedIn profile, followers on Twitter, and meeting with different potential partners, demoing regularly. All important steps on a way to success!
KEZA 3D GAME
WINNERS OF THE HEALTH & WELLNESS CATEGORY; 2ND PLACE OVERALL
“Keza” is a girl who runs around the city of Kigali solving different problems, avoiding many obstacles and learning about STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and teen pregnancy. The goal of the team was to develop a gamification platform focused on young people to raise awareness of sexual health.
The game is now successfully piloted in different secondary schools in Rwanda. They are active on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The team says there’s a lot to do, but the prizes won from the Hackathon have been helping to develop the product further.
“The experience from the Hackathon has been phenomenal. Although they didn’t sleep much, the amazing time and valuable advice from the mentors compensated for it all. They recommend everyone to grab this life-changing opportunity!”
Gaelle Abi Gisubizo
The second edition of the EU: Africa The Journey Hackathon takes place on 9-13 December 2021. It’s an awesome opportunity to bring ideas that really make a difference in the world to life. Find more information here and register for the hackathon here.