Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tuesday Meeting 10th June 2008: Commercializing Technology with Hafeez Bana

This past Tuesday Hafeez Bana gave talk on commercializing technology.

He started off with a brief overview of what he's been doing in the innovation programme at Deloitte in Australia. Over there they have something not much unlike Google where the employees are encouraged to work on their own projects during their free time and the company helps to commercialize them. He gave an example of a card verification system which uses numerical codes entered on a card with a small screen to authenticate transactions. In the talk he gave us a nice overview of some of the hurdles in the development process and its eventual implementation.

The main topic of his talk however was th J- Mango platform for mobile applications. It uses a simple scripting language to send mobile apps over the air to subscribers. The underlying framework is AOL and TCL server and makes use of Erlang and Java languages. It runs on Apache with a load balancing front end. He showed us a neat video of how to download an app from a QR code diagram using a camera phone- really cool!

After that we went into Q&A, lots of questions about technical details of J-mango and possible applications. One question that stood out and isn't new is how to protect your intellectual property especially in Kenya. Hafeez noted that unfortunately in Kenya people are not as eager to help you with your idea as in Europe or Australia. It's more likely that it'll be stolen here, something we definitely need to work on here.

Something else that came up on commercialization is how to split the gains with an investor for maximum benefit to the developer. Though it may look like a rip- off it may actually be more advantageous to give a big investor a larger stake as they could give you more mileage.

On the subject of mobile apps it was note that the operator have to be more open minded about revenue sharing with app developers. Hafeez noted that after a while ARPU from traditional services tends to flatline especially after a price war like the one we're having so the telcos have to diversify. A big battle lies ahead right there!

An interesting note was made of how women have goon insight in business example given women in Bangladesh and how they worked with Grameen bank. So to the ladies out their your contribution is important and you are encouraged to attend the meetings. It's worth noting that there was a good turn out this time- 3!

Al in all it was an informative chat especially for the entrepreneurs and we thank Hafeez for making the time to come.

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