MEST Welcomes Microsoft 4Afrika, Brightpearl, Bestman Games, and V8 Ventures for Guest Lecture Weekend

Sylvana Lewin, Wednesday March 28th 2018

Every three months, the MEST community comes together for Guest Lecture Weekend. Staff members fly in from Cape Town, Nairobi, Lagos, Silicon Valley and beyond to join the MEST EITs and founders for a weekend of guest lectures, pitches, and community. Each Guest Lecture Weekend marks a milestone in the MEST curriculum: the completion of a Capstone Project.

On the weekend of March 17th, the MEST community celebrated the end of Capstone Two with another eventful Guest Lecture Weekend.  EITs heard talks from Brightpearl cofounder Andrew Mulvenna, Bestman Games founder Nimi Akinkugbe, V8 Ventures managing partner Tobi Oke, and Dean of Microsoft 4Afrika Academy Lutz Ziob, along with MEST Founder & Chairman Jorn Lyseggen. Our expert panel also offered feedback on the 16 business concepts pitched by the class of 2018.

[caption id="attachment_6609" align="aligncenter" width="665"]MEST Community with Brightpearl Andrew Mulvenna, Bestman Games Nimi Akinkugbe, Dean of Microsoft 4Afrika Lutz Ziob, V8 Ventures Tobi Oke for Guest Lecture Weekend The MEST Community at March Guest Lecture Weekend.[/caption]

Recurring themes in the guest lectures were the importance of focus and passion as well as the necessity of social impact creation. All four speakers emphasized how focus had played a role in their journey with Akinkugbe driving the point home by stating, “Have purpose and set goals. When you have this it’s much more difficult for people to sway you.” Without focus, both entrepreneur and company will go nowhere.

Behind that focus should be passion, according to these guest industry experts. Each of them sited passion as what kept them drive during harder times and what made their businesses ripe for success.

While all four speakers touched on the idea of social impact, Ziob and Oke really pressed its importance. Both believe in creating profitable social impact or making money while making a difference. Oke referenced the standard Bill and Melinda Gates have set for philanthropy, as well as the business empire they have created, he said, “You can use your profits to change the world. If you control capital, you can make things happen.”

[caption id="attachment_6579" align="aligncenter" width="665"] Andrew Mulvenna at Guest Lecture Weekend[/caption]

Following talks from our guests, EITs pitched concepts ranging from a data driven solution that detects fraud for insurance company, to a platform that connects online shoppers with travelers coming to their location for easy and affordable delivery. From waste disposal and shipping to online shopping and tourism, EITs developed on solutions in a wide variety of markets.

One team with a particularly strong pitch was called Judy. Having found that surveyed lawyers from Ghana and Nigeria spend 3 days or more searching for relevant insights from cases to use later, this team of EITs created a better search engine for finding Commonwealth Case Law, starting within Africa. Using Machine Learning and indexing, Judy goes beyond basic keyword searches.

[caption id="attachment_6608" align="aligncenter" width="665"]MEST Community cheers on EITs pitching Community members cheer on EITs during pitches.[/caption]

Overall, the guest lecturers were impressed by the quality of the pitches and ideas. They pushed the EITs to delve even further and keep working hard. Lyseggen encourage EITs to think about next steps during Capstone Three and start doing projections and revenue calculations.

The weekend wrapped up with a visit from the Norwegian-African Business Association (NABA), which is currently working to link Norwegian and African business communities. The visit was an exciting moment for the MEST entrepreneurs and an opportunity for the Norwegian business community to learn more about entrepreneurship at MEST. Portfolio companies TroTro Tractor, Leti Arts, AF Radio, and Asoriba all had the opportunity to pitch and share different aspects of the African tech community.

This Guest Lecture Weekend was a thought-provoking event that has got the MEST EITs in just the right mindset as they start lectures again and prepare for Capstone Three. We already can’t wait to see who will be at our next Guest Lecture event!

Interested in hearing more about March Guest Lecture Weekend? We’ve put together in-depth recaps of Mulvenna, Akinkugbe, Oke, and Ziob’s talks just for you!