Cross posted from the white african blogThis weekend theiHub Advisory Board met with the managers (Tosh and Jessica) to discuss the future direction of the space and what our focus should be for the coming year. The meeting was facilitated by my friend Peter Durand ofAlphachimp Studios, who is in town as a part of thePopTech Lab. The iHub Advisory Boards is made up of 5 people who come from the Nairobi tech community, and represent the community when important, or difficult, decisions have to be made. They are:
- Riyaz Bachani, Wananchi executive, now in charge of Wazi WiFi
- Josiah Mugambi, Co-Founder of Skunkworks, works at Nokia Siemens
- Rebeccah Wanjiku, Tech reporter and founder of Fireside Communications
- Conrad Akunga, Blogger, co-founder of Mzalendo and highly respected software architect
- Erik Hersman, Tech blogger and co-Founder of Ushahidi
Looking at 2012
Our overall focus has always been that we should look to serve the tech community first, and that everything else would come from that foundation. As we stepped back to look at what’s happened in the last (almost) 2 years, we tried to identify what worked and where there gaps were.We first worked through the a “business model canvas”, putting our minds together to find out if we all saw the iHub in the same way, and if what we were doing was what we should be doing. As you can see in the diagram above, we tried to list out all of our partners and community members, then map how we add and receive value from each of them. A key point of discussion was how do we add value to not just the 250 green members who can come in and use the space, but also the serve the needs of the other 6,000 white members in the “virtual” community. We’ll have more thoughts and announcements on this over weeks and months ahead.
Going Deeper by Improving Freelancer SkillsWe delved deeper into this, separating the types of individuals between the startup types vs the freelance types. One of the biggest gaps we’ve found is that there are many freelancers, some of whom are working on a startup on the side, but need the funds from their freelance activities to pay the rent. Our questions became:
- How does the makeup of the iHub green membership reflect different levels of what’s needed for projects to be done? In other words, are we diverse enough?
- How can we help get freelancers more projects?
- How can we help them become better at delivering on their projects?
- Standardize a process for clients to interact with iHub freelancers, using the iHub brand as a vector for business needs to be solved by the technology community.
- Creating a way for developers, designers, project managers and QA people to collaborate and form teams to work on client projects. To be on the “shortlist” of freelancers, each would have to pass a test to make sure they are at the appropriate level.
- Bring in a very specific and targeted type of mentoring and business skill training to focus on the individuals in this program, so that we can get a better culture of on-time delivery, communications and quality of work.
- Put in place a system, upon project completion, for clients to rate the team, or individuals, who do the work. This would be tied to iHub member’s profiles, and anyone who under-delivers would be dropped from the pool of freelancers.