Finishing the Comrades 2018 Marathon and Finding Great Curry

Descending on Durban on 8 June 2018 filled many runners with hope, promise and it was one of the most fulfilling moments in our lives – as some of us took on this famous race for the first time. One of the countless rewards of the Comrades Marathon is the spirit of this race, the camaraderie that comes with being among the individuals taking on this challenge. It was to be a huge turning point in how I would later understand my body, mind and overcome pain.

Yes, some pain. I wish that last was “spirit” and it would have been all poetic from there with the breeze gently in my face, running in slow motion on a cloud, with a smile the whole way and feeling like it was much shorter than 90-kilometres. But no, there were many great moments, not all of them as poetic as all that.
Mongezi Mtati at the Comrades Marathon 2018
Every race before this point was preparation it seems, except the Loskop Marathon, Two Oceans Marathon and Om Die Dam, which are all amazing and can be grueling. Every other one was preparation, a way to get a sense of the difference between the toughest long effort and reaching the next small town after losing count of hours on the road.  Waking up just before 1am means I had to sleep just after 7pm, which is unnatural in itself by many imaginable standards.

The energy in Pietermaritzburg just before 5am when we arrived for the race was electric, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. People shared stories of their last Comrades as motivation for both peers and themselves, which helps to calm the nerves. Some were there for one sole reason; to finish the race before cut-off with no strict finishing goal time. We felt connected as a community that wishes every participant well.

There was a point after the halfway mark when the mind and body had left me to my devices, I was just wandering spirit at this point with no idea what to do next. This is where the training comes to play. You tell yourself to just keep going and the slump subsides, if only for a moment, and the energy around you helps to regain momentum. Along with the tough hills later in the day also comes the heat, which was not as bad as I expected.

After being on the road for over 70 kilometres, sometime after 8 hours from the start, my running shoes felt unbearably tight. It was as though I would lose the top of my foot if I kept going, so I loosened the shoe which now had too much play and the pain was ever more consistent. Of course, I thought this was my foot just acting up for no reason begging to be left on the side of the road. It later turned out to be a circulation cutting compression sock by 2XU, but luckily this didn’t take me off the road for too long.

As we progressed further into the Ultimate Human Race I began to see why it’s called that. We encountered peers with injuries and some who needed more serious medical assistance. The inspiration of being on the open road, seeing people push themselves past what looks like “a wall” encouraged me to push past my own boundaries.

Family and loved ones will always be encouraging, and after crossing the finish line, seeing the light in my fiancé’s face while attempting to walk through the Moses Mabhida Stadium, made it all worth it. The medal is the small part of the race now that it’s over, the journey is the biggest part. Knowing that I took my mind and body through 90-kilometres on foot and I now sit here able to tell write about parts of the tale is the ultimate achievement.

Mongezi Mtati at the Comrades Marathon Finish Line
She told me that she had met a lady whose husband was nearing the finish, that this was his fourth attempt and that he did not make it across the finish line on time the first three instances. They sat there talking about the stories of previous races and the wife’s hope that he finishes before cut-off and gets his medal. They were there with their kids, who were all very eager to see their dad soon. I was now rooting for this man whom I’d never met and everyone else who was still on their way.

Just a year ago I had no idea that I would take on this challenge, in fact, I thought it was crazy that anyone would put themselves through this sort of thing. Now. . . although I’m the first to point out my craziness, after many others have done so to much debate and denial, this is one of the least crazy things I have ever done. There is something about completing one long ultra-marathon after marathon in preparation for the Comrades that takes me past some of my own known – and unknown – hurdles to achieving more.

In search of a reward some days later, not cake this time I still owe myself that, I asked friends from Durban for a good place to have curry and one of the recommendations did not have the ambience. By chance, I then asked the Uber driver where he would suggest we go and he proposed Mali’s Restaurant in Morningside. Upon arrival at this house-turned-restaurant we welcomed by a friendly security guard who lets through the gate.

As you enter, it feels small enough to need to make a reservation and big enough to still be cosy. We were accommodated immediately by the host. Long story short, when the food arrived it was the most divine, mouth-watering – even as you eat it – thing I’ve ever tasted. I would definitely recommend the Lamb Rogan Ghosh any day, especially if you love tomato-based sauces that may have you licking your plate.

This was one of the most memorable and worthwhile weeks I’ve had, in June at least. It hit me for the first time when I saw a friend recently who said “you are the first person I know who finished the Comrades Marathon”, that’s when it occurred to me that all those people who finished, within the cut-off time and after, are heroes in their own right. That this is a special moment in any person’s life.

The road to the Comrades Ultra Marathon 2018: Registering on impulse

On one random Friday afternoon while having coffee I registered for the Ultimate Human Race, the 89km Comrades Ultra Marathon. If you are shaking your head, I’m with you, I would do the same thing. There must have been something in the WiFi that day and some of us got it bad. Over the next few months after December, I’ll increase my training to meet Comrades Marathon levels. Not that I want to, I’d rather be siting with a whole cake and bottomless cappuccinos.
Telling the family 
After delaying the announcement and expecting fireworks when I eventually told, my sister and mom just said ‘oh’ or something even more unceremonious. I know, I know what you’re thinking. There should have been a huge song and dance, applause and cheers everywhere. They missed the whole 89 kilometers at the end of my announcement.
Instead, it became less about me and more about the picnics the family will have in Durban along the stops.

After Marathon High Knee

“We can have a roadtrip two days prior, we should organise the picnic stuff” said my sister, to which mom nodded and added something about food to include.

 

At this point, I stopped hearing them over sensation of numb thighs at the thought of passing their victory picnic in the middle of the race.

14 October 2017, the evening before running the marathon to qualify for the daunting Comrades Ultra Marathon, wasn’t the quietest night with nerves at an all-time high. It was as though the taxing ultra-marathon was that Saturday, as though the challenge only became real that evening.

Seeing my relatively slow-ish time of 4 hours and 29 minutes was a relief, because even though I like this running thing, don’t get for a second think I never feel like giving away my running shoes. It’s the gift that keeps giving numb sore legs. And yet it’s sssoooo good. There is a beautiful sense of accomplishment that I don’t quite get from finishing my dessert. Okay……finishing dessert comes with sadness. But you know what I mean.
Friends were surprised and most, like friends and loved ones shouldn’t, keep telling me how I should definitely go. “It will change your life” they say. And I appreciate it. I’m still waiting for that string of massage vouchers and training partners among them. Except Brian, Brian says I’m crazy and offers a juicy piece of steak to cure me of this long distance running thing.

You know where I’m going when I return from Durban.

Now that the qualifier is done, I’ll go for seeding times and make improvements. Much like the seasoned Comrades runner, I now nod in conversations while saying things “when I qualified for my first Comrades” and exit quietly before they ask how many I’ve completed – and other incriminating questions.

For now, before the intense training kicks off with a marathon in January, we eat (a lot of desserts), drink and hopefully convince others to give up their desserts in preparation for the change that’s coming my way. You must also go enjoy all your delectable eats these holidays, that way none of us judge the absence of summer bodies in others.

Build Your Business Idea at Lean Startup Machine in Johannesburg

If you’ve spent a few weeks (months or years) around the block working towards building an idea into a business, you might have also heard many business buzzwords. If not, don’t bother with them. It’s not the buzzword vocabulary that builds startups, it’s the work. Afterall, small business challenges don’t care for how much you speak of scalability or anything else that was used at a seminar this week.

Look below for most of the buzzwords that you might have heard before and ignore them as you read on. Deal? Go!

Lean Startup Machine Johannesburg

Business Entrepreneurial Buzzwords

 

The truth of the matter is that it’s nimble, lean businesses that start well and thrive for longer. In the spirit of steering clear of the flavour of this week’s jargon, the simpler you keep your offering and the quicker you test – the easier it becomes to prove your model and go to market. Or to fail fast and hit the ground running. These are some of the lean startup principles which gained massive traction following the release of Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup.

Since the book was published in 2011, the Lean Startup Machine built a community to put some of its principles through real-world testing and proof. Part of the iAfrikan team have joined forces with other local minds to bring those principles to Johannesburg. Now you can you can pitch your idea, test it in the real world, with real potential customers and collaborate with would-be team members.

You can also test new ideas for an existing business, or use these principles in your business to build a day-to-day lean startup culture. It focuses on what’s important now to test if the idea is viable and enables you to take it to market – with the least amount of unnecessary fuss in the process.

Companies Google, Facebook, Dropbox and other global organisations use the lean startup principles. It’s a way thinking and executing work in your business.

Does this sound like something you would want to learn and include into building your next idea?

Is it something you would like to cultivate as a way of thinking in both your life and business?
Lean Startup Machine, Johannesburg
If not, this is where you read on before sending this piece to that forward thinking friend. To you, forward-thinking friend, click here to register and share the love. Let’s say you know another two forward-thinking people and all three of you want to attend, you can use the promotional code ‘flashfree’ to get one free ticket.

What you are paying for

The Lean Startup Machine weekend is not a conference, it’s a whole weekend of both practical learning and testing some of the new concepts. It includes both keynote presentations and being matched with a team of people who either gravitate towards to your idea, or whose ideas appeal to you.

The team that implements the lean startup methodology the best stands to win an incubation deal.

You will:

–          Pitch your idea for feedback

–          Work on a high level plan test your idea

–          Go outside to speak to potential customers and find out if the idea would work.

–          Build webpage that would showcase the product, service or idea.

It will be an interesting weekend that promises to far surpass most (if not all) conferences you’ve been to.

Are you in? Register here: http://ctt.ec/fM8HF+

If you buy two tickets, you’ll get the third one free by using the promotional code ‘flashfree’.

Influence, Collaborate and Lead a Community: A TEDx talk

We are sold this idea that our story is not worth telling, that there is something more important than our personal accounts and experiences. When the TEDx Vanderbijlpark team called on me to share my story, that notion is precisely what dawned on me, that I haven’t lived or experienced enough to tell anyone about myself.

 

I know, I know, it could be flawed on many levels.

 

In this talk below, I share experiences of stories that changed me. Turning points that continue what the idea of self-organising and leading.

Thanks to Mpho Mojapelo, the rock-legend at Dungbeetle for designing my slides.

Cycling with Tutus in Johannesburg

It all started with chat at a bar with friends where “I said want to do series of activities in different costumes, for the fun of it” and a friend dared me to go cycling in a tutu. Now for the real story; I posted an update on Facebook about cycling in a tutu to which two friends, Jonathan Dicks and Steven Bakker – both cyclists – commented saying ‘if you pull it off and organise us tutus, we’ll join you’.

 

Jonathan Dicks cycling

Jonathan Dicks cycling

Jonathan Dicks is a regular at the Critical Mass cycling community which takes off on the corner of Juta and De Beer streets in Braamfontein – every last Friday of the month. Naturally, they suggested that we put on our costumes and ride with Critical Mass which is the easiest community to participate in.

 

Steven Bakker is more of a social cyclist who takes on the odd mountain (and by mountain I mean he once nearly into a river one Saturday morning) but he’s a rockstar of note. As you’ll see in picture below, he has already worn a tutu on stage before. He’s the second guy from your right.

Steve in a Tutu

Steven Bakker (second from right) in a tutu

I haven’t cycled in years and part of the deal is getting a bicycle from whoever collaborates with us. You will be mentioned in two blog posts thereafter and a small company banner of yours will be placed on the sidebar of this blog for two months.

 

Are you in?

 

The basic idea here, which I haven’t told Jonathan and Steven about, is to cycle a few times with various communities and support a few causes while doing it. My secret mission is get into shape and score a bike while raising funds to help a chosen cause. The guys have been asking about it for months and I think we can get more people to join us over time, but that would be a bonus.

 

So you, bicycle shop in Johannesburg and you costume hire store in Jozi, why don’t you collaborate with us to make this happen? This invitation is also open to anyone who wants to either support the mission or cycle with us, for both a good cause and well…..strutting your stuff on a public road in a costume.

 

To accept this mission, leave your comment below.

 

= = =

Featured picture by: dickdavid on Flickr

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Tools to Spread Word of Mouth

This was originally posted on the WordStart blog.

In October, the Enterprise Technology Show Africa organisers invited us to share some ways to spread the word. There are many tools on offer in the market and here, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, we share three of our favorite ones.

When working on building buzz for your product or organisation, you have to be clear on what the objective is. You may want to generate the word on mouth on your Facebook page, through contact with bloggers or by understanding customer conversations and sentiment, then contributing.

The tools in a nutshell:

  1. Shortstack is an easy-to-use Facebook application tool. It allows to run competitions with user-generated voting and content. We regularly use it for various purposes. Create a free account and try it out.
  2. Grouphigh combines SEO and social search to enable you to engage with the blogger community that you are interested in interacting with. You are then able to think through how you would like to position your content on various platforms and you understand what those blogs are interested in. Have a look at the 30-day free trial or request a demo to engage blogs for you PR and Marketing.
  3. Traackr takes influence beyond blogs and helps you find brand advocates by topic of interest and helps you build your influencer engagement efforts. Have a look at their plan options

Below, have a look at the presentation.

What are some of the tools that you use?

How To Harness Innovation In Business: Q&A With Innovation Leader Ravi Chhatpar

[This was originally posted on Ideate]

When building a business ‘innovation’ is spoken about as something you need apply – and in many instances – it refers to the use of technology. Ravi Chhatpar, one of the speakers at the TEDx event in Johannesburg , speaks to Mongezi Mtati about inspiration and focus, and how to harness innovation in your business.

Ravi’s experience spans clients across industries including BBC, Cox, ETS, GE, Microsoft, Prudential, and Virgin Mobile. Ravi has also authored publications for the Harvard Business Review and the Design Management Institute. Ahead of his presentation at TEDx Johannesburg, Mongezi asked Ravi to share some of his insights about innovation in and for business.

 

Q: We hear a lot about innovation and it seems like an ever moving target, how do you describe it?

Ravi Chhatpar: Innovation means different things to different people. It’s tempting to point to a new technology or breakout business success as signs of innovation, but it’s more important to define innovation from the human perspective. It must lead to a change in behaviour, typically because this behavioural change is creating new forms of value for the user or consumer. If your new product (or service, experience, business) is able to get people to behave in new ways, to be motivated to do things differently, then you have successfully created a solution to a deeply felt and poorly met need. It means this solution is creating value – both tangible and intangible – for the user or consumer. This is real innovation. Whether a new technology is involved or whether the business scales is an ancillary point.

 

Q: When working towards building something new or different, how do you do it without aiming to be different and instead build something useful?

Ravi Chhatpar: Innovation is not about being new or different, just for the sake of being new or different. It must be fundamentally centred around an unmet human need. The final form of the solution may be truly new or it may resemble what’s come before, as long as it meets the unmet need. While we tend to gravitate to things that seem very new, in reality innovation is always inspired by what’s come before. We learn from competitors, from what we see in other countries, from what we see in other industries, from what 2-person startups and mega-corporations are doing. Mashing-up, remixing and experimenting with what’s out there already often inspires the new.

 

Q: Some have said the next Facebook will be from Africa, do you agree? Why?

Ravi Chhatpar: I don’t think “the next Facebook” should be Africa’s innovation aspiration. Africa presents some very complex challenges that require specialized solutions that are difficult to scale. But if we find ways to scale localized solutions across markets, then we’ve truly created groundbreaking innovation. Take the oft-cited example of Kenya’s M-Pesa which is not directly replicable for a variety of reasons anywhere else. Other countries are experimenting with mobile payment solutions with varying degrees of success – some resemble M-Pesa – and some are very different. More successes will prompt more experimentation which will spread across markets. A continent with high mobile payments penetration, more than the developed world – even if it looks and feels and acts different in different countries – would be much more impressive to me than a single African Facebook.

 

Q: Without giving away too much, what will you be speaking on at the forthcoming TEDx Johannesburg?

Ravi Chhatpar: I’ll be talking about inspiration, which is such a fundamental component of the innovation process. Of course, inspiration is a massive topic in and of itself, so I’ll be focusing on a particular slice of it. That’s all I’ll say for now.

 

Q: How do you stay ahead of your last great idea?

Ravi Chhatpar: I like to switch industry and focus regularly. While it’s true that experience in one domain is valuable, thinking about the same problem space over extended periods of time will trade off expertise for freshness. Switching industries or focus areas provides a fresh start. Eventually, your mind starts looking for opportunities to cross-apply and cross-pollinate insights. How can a behavioural insight from a healthcare context be relevant to a financial context? This helps minimize creative fatigue.

 

Q: If it’s true that innovating is a mindset that be cultivated, where do we start in developing that mindset?

Ravi Chhatpar: What’s really needed is a deep cultivation of both right and left-brain thinking from an early a stage as possible. More importantly, this cultivation needs to be done in a way that doesn’t make the distinction between the two sides, to encourage a truly interdisciplinary approach. The creative side needs to be complemented with the analytical, the thinking needs to be complemented by the doing. Increasingly these divisions of labor that we see in our (older) generation is being replaced by younger talents who come up with ideas and make them real, who brainstorm wildly then sketch concepts and then write business plans, who experiment and prototype and assess results analytically. This is absolutely the right direction. Education should support this as early as possible.

Catch Ravi Chhatpar at the forthcoming TEDx Johannesburg on 15 August and find out more about his insights and findings.

Win a free ticket to the Tshwane Entrepreneurship Week #TNEW

I was invited to speak at the Tshwane Entrepreneurship Week, which happens from 27 to 31 August 2012. And of course, I wanted to spread the love.

 

Here’s the deal, I have one ticket to give away here and another one over at WordStart. There’ll be one more spot ticket given away on Twitter. Before we go any further, I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday 14 August. The tickets are valued at R750, per day.

If you win this one, you get to pick a day from Monday to Friday. The only day that’s excluded is Wednesday, 29 August.

The conference has an awesome line-up of speakers.

Here are some of the people you’ll hear from:

On Monday (27 August 2012)

Douglas Kruger, an author and four time Southern African Public Speaking Champion

Magdalene Moonsamy, COO of the NYDA (National Youth Development Agency)

Tuesday (28 August 2012)

Abbey Mokgwatsane, CEO of Ogilvy – South Africa and once

Brenda Roopai, CEO and Founder of City Of Choice Tours

Wednesday (29 August 2012) is free during the day, but Dr Trevor Manuel will be presenting in the evening and they have limited tickets on sale.

Thursday (30 August 2012)

Ndwakhulu Mukhufhi, GM for incubation at the Innovation Hub

Zadok Olinga, Engineer and Entrepreneur

Friday (31 August 2012)

Khaya Dlanga, whose talk is entitled ‘Social Media: The Next Generation’.

Olga Meshoe, Senior Consultant at Transcend Corporate Advisors. She was also the youngest and only black chairperson of a subcommittee of the South African Securitisation Forum.

And, of course I also speak on Friday. The talk is about how some of the world’s most successful, some small and unknown, startups defied the rules to make it big.

How to score a ticket:

  1.  Tell me why you, or someone you nominate deserves the ticket – as a comment below.
  2.  Share this post on Twitter and add a by @Mongezi just so I pick it up.
  3. If you nominate yourself, ask a friend to come post a comment supporting your self nomination.
  4. As part of your comment, also tell me which day you’d like to check out. The details and full conference are here.
  5. Check back on 14 August to see if you’ve won.

You can also check out WordStart, where we’ll give away one more ticket over the next few days. If you would like to know more about the Tshwane Entrepreneurship Week, check out their website here or their Tweets, and tell a friend about it.

Easy, right?

14 International Events and a Startup Exchange For Your Calendar

[Originally posted on Memeburn]

The last post I wrote featured seven, which later became nine, South African events worth attending to grow your startup. If you have started building a product or platform that you deem worthy of international exposure, which I’m sure it is, then you may want to attract the attention of investors, mentors and innovators worldwide.

Here is a list of 14 events and a startup exchange programme you may want to consider:

1. South by Southwest (SXSW)

One of the most talked about conferences is SXSW, whose focus is in music, independent films and emerging technologies. It is renowned for being one of the most viable launching pads for content that spreads and presents invaluable learning opportunities for startups.

It was held this year from March 9-18 in Austin, Texas. Register for the next one and stay informed.

2. The Next Web (TNW) Conference

The Next Web Conference brings together startups, investors, speakers, developers and even a hack battle to create an environment that puts you on an international playing field. Speakers this year include:

  • YouTube Co-founder and CEO of Delicious, Chad Hurley
  • Reddit Co-founder, Alexis Ohanian

The Next Web has 20 pre-selected startups that will launch at TNW2012: this could be you. The conference also has two Startup Rally presentation sessions, where startups get five minutes each to present.

It will be held in Amsterdam from 25-27 April and the organisers are offering discounted tickets if you book online.

3. Startup Conference

The Startup Conference provides a launching pad for startups and the first outdoor startup festival that will have a crowd of more than 2 000 entrepreneurs, investors and software developers. What could be better than launching in Silicon Valley?

If you are launching your startup, this conference also hosts a Demo Pit at its outdoor festival called Startup Village, which will have over 1 000 investors, entrepreneurs and journalists. If you are still working on your product and need to raise money, then you can enter the Elevator Pitch Competition where you stand a chance to pitch to a panel of investors.

The conference will be held on 2 May at Mountain View, California.

4. The Guardian Activate Summit

Some of the world’s most influential minds will convene in New York City on 3 May to discuss and examine the influence of web technologies. Their speakers include Executive Chairman of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman and Arianna Huffington, President and editor-in-chief at The Huffington Post.

5. TechCruch Disrupt

TechCruch Disrupt gathers some of the leading tech minds in New York, San Francisco, CA and Beijing who range from startups to coders.

This event kicks off with its popular Hackathon on Saturday 19 May running through to Sunday 20 May. May 21-23 sees this year’s first TechCrunch Disrupt New York, where the organisers also crowns the winner of the Startup Battlefield Competition.

DISRUPT San Francisco takes off from 8 to 12 September, where they host the Startup Battlefield and once again bring 500 coders to build something new.

6. Mashable Connect

Mashable connects its online community offline for the second year with its signature conference aptly called Mashable Connect. It has a wide array of speakers ranging from the Founder and CEO of Klout, Joe Fernandez to Hilary Mason the Chief Scientist of the URL shortening service Bit.ly and Mashable’s CEO & Founder, Pete Cashmore.

It will be held on May 3, 2012 – Saturday, May 5, 2012 at Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

7. TED Global

This year’s TED Global is titled “Radical Openness” and will address topics of increased openness ranging from open source to open science. TED conferences present learning and networking opportunities like none other.

The conference kicks off in Edinburgh, Scotland and runs from 25-29 June 2012.

8. 500 Startups

500 Startups is a fund for early-stage companies that provides funding from $10k to $250k through seed investment. It also has conferences throughout the year that bring together VCs, startups and advisers.

Its Demo Days stand out the most, from a startup’s perspective, and are invitation-only events. It has two coming up in July; the first in California on 17-18 July and the second in New York City on 23 July, 2012.

500 Startups is a fund for early-stage companies that provides funding from $10k to $250k through seed investment. It also has conferences throughout the year that bring together VCs, startups and advisers.

Its Demo Days stand out the most, from a startup’s perspective, and are invitation-only events. It has two coming up in July; the first in California on 17-18 July and the second in New York City on 23 July, 2012.

500 Startups is a fund for early-stage companies that provides funding from $10k to $250k through seed investment. It also has conferences throughout the year that bring together VCs, startups and advisers.

Its Demo Days stand out the most, from a startup’s perspective, and are invitation-only events. It has two coming up in July; the first in California on 17-18 July and the second in New York City on 23 July, 2012.

9. DEMO

Are you looking for a place to launch your product? DEMO is the conference you should attend, where you can also meet people who are likely to transform the tech scene as we know it. The popular CRM software Salesforce was also launched at DEMO. Will yours be next?

The next the DEMO in Silicon Valley takes place from 17-19 April followed by another from 1-3 October. It also hosts events in Asia, Brazil and China.

10. Seedcamp

Apart from being an early stage mentoring and investment program, Seedcamp also hosts events that bring together prominent entrepreneurs, investors and startups. Its events are held in New York, Berlin and Paris

Have a look at the Seedcamp calendar. Or apply to attend one by clicking on the event.

11. Wired Business Conference

Wired brings together some of the leading minds in business and tech to discuss some of the most disruptive business practices. Speakers range from Yancey Strickler, the Co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter — the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects; the New York Times bestselling author of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries and Shantanu Nayarean, the CEO of Adobe.

This conference kicks off on 1 May, 2012 and offers discounted tickets until April 27. Have a look at the rest of their speakers and book your tickets.

12. Techweek Conference

The Techweek Conference takes entrepreneurs from Idea to Scale in a five day event that connects startups, VC’s, Angel Investors and has talks by some of the world’s most successful tech entrepreneurs. This conference takes place from 22-26 June in Chicago.

Within five days, you will learn how companies like Groupon, 37Signals and Threadless emerged from idea to scale. The CEO and founder of 37Signals, Jason Fried will give a keynote on new business and lean startup methods.

13. TechCity UK Entrepreneurs Festival

2011 saw the launch of the Entrepreneurs Festival in London, which was hosted during the Global Entrepreneurship week in November. It included mentorship, pitching and connected entrepreneurs with both VC’s and established business minds.

They haven’t updated their website with details for the next one yet, but keep an eye on the site and be the first to know.

14. The BarCamp Tour

 

BarCamps are community organised events where people post what they want to do a session about and attendees check what sessions they would like to participate in. The BarCamp Tour kicks off on 14 April in Florida.

If you would like to attend one, or host your own, go to this website for details and guidelines.

Startup Exchange

The Startup Exchange provides you with opportunities to test your ideas and concepts within an incubator, and gives you access to international mentors. The Startup Exchange doesn’t take any equity from your business, while giving you 2–3 months of incubation and mentorship in a foreign European country.

Visit the site for details and to apply.

What are your favourite tech conferences? Add them in the comments.

Screw Business As Usual and Win: Backstage pass to the book launch

On Saturday evening, I had the privilege of being co-MC at Richard Branson’s Book Launch in Johannesburg – South Africa. As you expect with Sir Richard Branson, there were quite a lot of highlights at the event and here are some of the top ones for me. You also stand a chance to hang out with Richard Branson at his private game reserve in 2012.

The value of ideas

We had an onstage Q & A where I asked him – What is the value of ideas?

Sir Richard Branson: “Ideas by themselves have very little value, how they are executed determines how far you will go. A lot of people will tell you why it won’t work, focus on why it will.”

As a global entrepreneur, who is also passionate about entrepreneurship, he is constantly approached with many business ideas, some of which, are more innovative than others. It was eye-opening, for me, that even at his level the principles haven’t changed. That he still grapples with resistance and continues to question the status-quo to make a difference.

Screw Business As Usual is a book that I find questions how business views both, business growth and community development. In this book Richard Branson approaches the idea of developing communities, as everyone’s concern and in that sense challenges businesses both large and small.

He cites cases from how Danone and  Professor Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank pioneered a new way to provide nutritious food to communities, while making profits that grow both the community and the business. The book also makes mention of how a lot of startups changed how business is viewed and blazed a trail for how we can continue transform business models.

Get the latest updates on Twitter by following this hashtag: #SBAU

You get to write the next book

I have come to know Richard Branson as an entrepreneur who re-invents the rules, and he does things differently in Screw Business As Usual. He is already working on his next book, but this time you write the story.

Go to Screw Business As Usual here and share how you are screwing business from how it’s traditionally been done, and your story could be part of the next book. Richard Branson and the team are coming to South Africa in 2012, where people with the best ideas get to join them in the trip to SA and hang out at Richard Branson’s private game reserve.

Download the first chapter here. Upload your written idea or a video to stand a chance to win.

Will you be part of it?