1. Seattle

    These last 3 days have been filled with lots of activity. Had a great time with the team at BlueKai on Monday and Tuesday winding up my short internship with them. They have all been really wonderful there and generous with their time. Loved every minute. Loved the morning standups and the walkthroughs and the 1 on 1’s with Ajit.

    That’s me there with Amlan Chakraborty on my right and Alex Zhou on the left. They are part of the team of 5 software engineers at the BlueKai Seattle dev office.

    Had an opportunity to spend the morning at the Microsoft HQ in Redmond and saw some new stuff they are working on. I live tweeted most of the discussion and presentations made there.

    Main takeaway was that Microsoft has a number of initiatives to support entrepreneurs on the African continent in terms of access to affordable (in some cases free) software to use in building applications as well as access to cloud services. They are also key drivers of a number startup focused initiatives on the continent like the inaugural DEMO Africa event to take place in Nairobi later this year.

    In the evening we went off to the University of Washington. I had the opportunity to be part of the panellists discussing the topic “Afro-Optimism: A Positive Outlook on Africa” at an event there.

    The event was organised by the World Affairs Council’s Young Professionals International Network. The place was pretty packed and the enthusiasm for a different African narrative is quite encouraging. Thanks Kunle and YPIN!

    This was the last night in Seattle. Off to Chicago tomorrow morning. It’s goodbye to this beautiful rainy city, its warm people and the Space Needle.

  2. Meeting tech entrepreneurs in Seattle, Washington

    Yesterday, the great folks at World Affairs Council organised meetings for us with four tech startup founders here in Seattle. The companies are all at different stages. One of them was launched just 2 days ago, another hasn’t launched yet, the other a few months ago and the last one years ago. The 4 entrepreneurs all had different experiences and perspectives and were all quite keen to share them. It was also a great opportunity to share with them our experiences from back home, which led to conversation about the different environments, the different opportunities because of and methods of execution and as well as similarities shared.

    The day started off with a meeting with 2 guys, Bradley Buda (guy in the middle), a former Amazon and BlueKai engineer who has now started a company called BBA, and Chris Walters (him too a former Amazonian) who launched Livestar on Thursday. Livestar is a mobile app that’s basically a Yelp but with the reviews made by your friends and Bradley’s startup is developing an application to help small to medium size businesses manage their outsourced services. We talked about starting a business from scratch and the work that goes into publicly launching. They asked a lot of questions about the environment in Africa and I found myself learning a lot too from the experiences the guys from Mauritania, DRC and Senegal shared.

    Next meeting was with Chuks Onwuneme (guy with hat), a former Nokia engineer who started Personify.it about a month ago. Chuks is from Nigeria and he talked about his experience moving to the US for education and a career in engineering. Personify it has an interesting objective on social responsibility and I encourage you to check it out!

    The last meeting of the day was with Max Ciccotosto (black t-shirt guy) , the founder and CEO of Wishpot and Venpop (more about those here). He’s a former Microsoft Program Manager and founded Wishpot some 6 years back. We talked about the challenges he faced transitioning from employment to starting Wishpot with a friend, some mistakes they made and how they learnt from them.