March 2016 MEST Guest Lecture Weekend
If you’ve ever visited MEST, the many MEST Guest lecture group pictures enviably displayed on the colorful walls will definitely draw your attention.
The creators of the MEST program intricately wove this important event into the program to foster the exchange of idea among the local and international stakeholders in the industry. During MEST Guest Lecture weekends, MEST serves more coffee, publishes more tweets and shakes more hands.
It is one of the memorable moments when the MEST community interacts with some of the world’s experienced hands and brains in tech, whiles these guests from far and near share their life lessons with the community.
This weekend, the MEST family gathered once again, to celebrate this quarterly ritual. MEST welcomed Amber Fowler COO and partner of EchoVC and Nickolai Fasting CEO/CTO and Founder of Syncano.
Amber Fowler took the audience through her early days as a member of an empire Peter Thiel put together to work on American Thunder. Though this project failed, Amber shared the key lessons she picked up from this endeavour. The trainees and guests nodded in agreement as she threw more light on these key lessons one after the other. After her involvement with the Founders Fund in the Silicon Valley she got to the point where she thought about building her own venture fund and invest in startups especially in Africa. Amber and her small team of 5 other employees have invested in about 5 tech companies so far and are on the look out to financially help more.
When Nikolai Fasting took the stage, he walked the audience through how his craze for pop and music got him to travel and meet new people. Interestingly his parents’ passion for adventure got him to pass through the hills of Tanzania where he enjoyed bits of African education. After many years of unrelated episodes, Nikolai discovered a way to make mobile app development easier for startups and smaller ventures and has since built this idea into what is now Syncano.
Looking into the younger entrepreneurs’ eyes, he explained how he and his team back at Syncano were solving a problem most engineers faced in their career. By relying on its database of libraries, Syncano works on the completes the back-end of app by referencing the front-end designs provided by the company’s clients.
The loudest applause of the day was heard when the former adventurer announced that every EIT at MEST will receive a free access to a Syncano account to help the trainees with their mobile app development. To make the offer juicier, he extended it to the 2017 class currently being recruited.
During breaks and lunch time, the MEST community chatted and interacted with other non-speaker guests who had also flown into Accra just to be a part of this unique experience. Vinz, a member of the Nico & Vinz duo of ‘’Am I wrong’’ fame, Maciej Kucharz, the head of the Syncano engineering department and Pedro Fasting a Syncano board member also spent quality time sharing and learning with the trainees and company founders.
Nikolai Fasting, CEO/CTO and Founder - Syncano
Nikolai has been working with internet, TV and mobile interaction since 1998. From 2002, Mr. Fasting was CEO of Respons.tv and later Chief Business Developer in Mobile Media Interactive. He was responsible for launching a mobile marketing division and an interactive television division in these companies. Mr. Fasting was involved in running more than 800 mobile marketing campaigns and launching 10 mobile driven interactive TV channels in Norway, Malaysia, China, Canada and the UK, until 2006, when Mr. Fasting was leading a management buy-out of the interactive television division of Mobile Media Interactive, starting up Active Loop Television.
Nikolai has been leading development of several industry leading media technology platforms that are still in use
Amber Fowler, COO & Partner - EchoVC
Amber oversees operations and portfolio development at EchoVC. Prior to EchoVC, Amber was Vice President, Finance at Founders Fund, a venture capital firm with over $1B under management. She was responsible for the management and operational activities for Founders Fund’s entire fund complex, including their FF Angel funds and portfolios. Before this, Amber founded a consulting practice working primarily with technology startups, which she ran for 14 years in Silicon Valley providing finance, operational, tax & audit, and financial systems integration projects and services.
In addition to tech startup clients, she also worked with several non-profit, philanthropic organizations primarily focused in the humanitarian, women and children, and health sectors. Some notable clients include: The Dalai Lama Foundation, Terma Foundation, and the Thiel Foundation. Amber has a BS in Accounting from the University of Washington and she is a Kauffman Fellowship mentor.
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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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