Mega Faculty Hackathon ahead of the 9th edition of Nairobi Innovation Week

University of Nairobi in collaboration with Startinev and other partners launched a 3-day Mega Faculty Hackathon from 3rd to 5th April, 2024. The Hackathon set off with inspiring experiences from startup pioneers dubbed ‘From Campus to Company’. This was the first ever Faculty-wide hackathon which registered 179 teams.

In his opening remarks, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama noted that Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship are the key pillars behind the Hackathons, which aimed at value addition geared towards the 99% of students who did not target formal employment and help them succeed in life. He also observed that majority of Kenya’s funds attained from service provision and sale of raw materials were spend on importing goods and services. A very dangerous state of affairs thus the reason why initiatives like the Hackatons where so important. He applauded the Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Research Innovation and Enterprise (DVRIE) in collaboration with Prof Mary Kinoti , Director Research for a pedagogical approach to give students value and enable them to create wealth and opportunities.

Prof. Mary Kinoti, Director, Intellectual Property and Management, remarked that the Hackathons were excellent icebreakers between Faculty members and students because everyone involved learned that they all wanted to win. She noted that for the last 8 years UoN has organized Nairobi Innovation Week with the sole purpose of assisting staff and students in showcasing knowledge acquired in solving challenges and disseminating knowledge to the entire nation. She was also proud of the fact that the Hackathons were identified as an ecosystem enabler that students could leverage to establish startups while still in campus.

The Hackathon Panelist discussion had Innocent Magothe (CEO- Startinev), Benaiah Wepundi (CEO – Payd), Dean Gichukie (CEO-Quikk-API, Director Research, Prof Mary Kinoti and moderated by Charity Mbithe, PR Consultant.

Prof. Mary Kinoti encouraged the young people to develop tenacity, endurance and perseverance to innovate and get work done. She emphasized that hard work did not kill and that there were many pathways to earn a livelihood as long as one was willing to acquire skills from every opportunity.

VC, Prof. Kiama , Director, IPMO, Prof. Mary Kinoti pose for a group photo after the official opening ceremony of the Faculty Mega hackathon
VC, Prof. Kiama , Director, IPMO, Prof. Mary Kinoti pose for a group photo after the official opening ceremony of the Faculty Mega hackathon

Startinev CEO, Innocent Magothe on Forums for Business Ideas remarked that 90% of Startinev business partnerships occurred from cafes. He encouraged students to go out and network and never underestimate people present in any room. He also emphasized the need to not lead with yourself.

Ms. Charity Mbithe echoed the same sentiments, she reminisced a lesson from Dale Carnegie; she learned to approached anyone sitting alone in a café and strike a conversation if they were receptive. ‘Learn as much about the other person as possible.’  A tactic that won her largest contract to date.

Dean Gichukie, CEO-Quikk API response to customer feedback and integration into system said the better you are at receiving  and analyzing feedback to gauge how to fix and improve your system is an indicator of how fast you can scale up your business and processes.

 Benaiah Wepundi, CEO –Payd spoke on financial discipline as an innovator and start-up pioneer, ‘Have a clear distinction between personal vs business vs client money. Utilize the resources available to you such as fellow students, networking events and ecosystem enablers like the Hackathons and Nairobi Innovation Week.’

Winners of the Mega Faculty hackathon will be announced and proceed to the Nairobi Innovation Week 2024 that will take place on 8th -10th , May 2024. Have you registered to attend? 

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