AidahBot CTO Shares Learnings From Attending F8Recently, Facebook held their annual developer conference, F8, in San Jose, California. The event explored everything from security and data to virtual reality and artificial intelligence with Facebook announcing exciting new launches throughout the event such as FaceDate, Clear History, and more.
MEST MD Aaron Fu and Aidahbot CTO John Otu attended the conference before heading to Meltwater San Francisco for MEST Presents: The Next Frontier, a discussion of the future of African tech. We spoke with Otu to learn more about his experience at F8 and why he thinks Africa is the next frontier for technology!
What was your biggest learning from F8?
My biggest takeaway was the people that I met, spoke with, and exchanged ideas with. My Facebook Developers Circle connection allowed me to schedule some private one-on-ones with platform engineers. I also met developers from all around the world.
It broadened my perspective. For example, there are some implementations that we have made in such a way that we didn’t think about people who might be using our products from other parts of the world. From my interactions, I got more ideas on how others are doing their implementations and how we can leverage the tools and connections that they are using to also make our platform better. I had a lot to take home for Aidahbot.
[caption id="attachment_6848" align="aligncenter" width="665"] John Otu and MEST MD Aaron Fu at F8.[/caption]
What was your favorite part of F8?
It was the hackathon! We had about nine hours, evening to morning, to build a new product. It was long hours, feeling pressure and challenge. It was really interesting. I couldn’t get myself to sleep - I could only think about the pressure of getting it done and submitting it and getting the judges to see it.!
The hackathon had community leaders and a few Developer Circle leads. It was mostly people who use Facebook products at production scale.
Which announcement from Facebook at the conference were you most excited about?
It’s hard to pick one! Right from the start, there were so many things that were interesting in different fields. The progress they’ve made with Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, AI - they brought the framework that they are using in production at Facebook and released it to the world so people can use it to build their models and do classifications in a development and production environment. That was really fascinating.
A lot of companies wouldn’t want to do that. I would find it hard to have someone look into my repo, but that’s the culture of Facebook. They’ve had some of the best open source tools, which we’ve used, and it’s because they are also using them. For example, React is one of the most popular frontend frameworks around. They use it for the Facebook we use on the web. It’s interesting to find a company that will do that.
Why do you think Africa is the next frontier?
There is an Africa Rising language that everyone is talking about. It’s because we’ve had a change of belief. Before now, it was hard to believe that someone could actually stay in Africa and develop a world class company, but we’ve seen that change over the years. Some people, like Jorn, took risks and made bets on people. The MEST program is a great example. These risks have seen successes.
When you hear that a company has raised $2 million, $20 million, $24 millionand the company is founded by an African, it has a way of motivating you and making you believe that this can be done. It also makes others - VCs, investors, and the rest - believe that they can actually listen to African founders because they know things are happening here.
Learn more about the discussions at The Next Frontier here!
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Due to COVID-19, MEST postpones training program to next year and doubles down on growing portfolio companies
At MEST, we continue to be deeply concerned about COVID-19 and have been closely monitoring developments locally and globally. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our community and we will continue to follow local authority and health official guidelines.
Due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic and the uncertainty that the future of travel holds, we have been unable to conduct in-person interviews and host recruitment around Africa for our next cohort. For this reason, we have taken the decision to postpone the Training Program to next year.
While these circumstances are indeed unfortunate, we see this as an exciting opportunity at MEST to double down on providing support and mentorship to our existing portfolio companies and the African ecosystem.
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