A recent social media post by serial start-up founder, Simeon Ononobi reads, ‘Nigeria should be treated like a start-up’. This statement is pretty funny you know, but one of the things you would find very interesting about the ecosystem is the use of ‘cool’ terminologies. So, if you ever want to play in this space, then, get ready to learn about them all. The few terms that have caught my attention include bootstrapping, burn rate, rounds, growth-hack, meetup, hackathons. I could go on and on. I know these terms are not exclusive to start-ups and technology enthusiasts alone, but they have sort of made them popular.
Of all these terminologies, I like the usefulness and possibilities of one, which is hackathon. I have often stated in this column and elsewhere that if I ever get to find myself in a position of authority, I will be known as the hackathon leader and this is what I think Nigeria needs in today’s highly disruptive world.
A hackathon-minded leader would be one, who readily wants to solve problems irrespective of the constraints or difficulties. He is someone who would tell fewer stories but rather focus on solving problems by tapping into the vast human capital available because, as long as we are alive, there will always be problems to be solved.
What is a hackathon and why is it so important?
According to Techopedia, ‘a hackathon is a gathering, where programmers collaboratively code in an extreme manner, over a short period of time. Hackathons last for at least a few days – or over a weekend – and generally not longer than a week.’
This definition sums it all up for me. I believe that leaders that make this a part of their overall strategy, will perform considerably better than others that don’t. I know it sounds rather strange, but in my experience, I rather count on the strength and passion of young people in developing our economy. Talking about young people, I spent the previous weekend in Abuja as a judge at the 2018 USPF Changemaker Challenge, a hackathon designed to solve a number of issues confronting us as a nation. I spent some time with young Nigerians that have travelled far and wide to brainstorm on ideas and solutions targeted at leveraging technology to solve some problems.
It was a great pleasure encouraging, discussing, mentoring, convincing, dining, and exchanging ideas with close to 40 young people, all in their twenties. I watched some of these young people who came into the competition collapse their ideas, formed teams with people they have never met before and brainstormed for hours, all because they were united in solving problems. I will quickly mention the winners and the problems they sought to solve, so that we can draw a few national lessons from what these young people achieved during the 72 hours hackathon.
The winning team, called ‘Places and Services,’ was led by Nwosu Oluebube and Ijaola David. They developed a platform that gives Nigerians, including vendors and users, access to a number of event-related resources.
In the second place was team ‘Beza X,’ comprising of Ogunranti Adebayo and Samson Okubanjo. They developed a medical wearable Internet of Things device that monitors health vitals, such as temperature and pulse.