Tech4Africa, one of the continent’s most prominent web and emerging technology conferences, has launched an initiative called Ignite, which will provide leading African startups with the opportunity to pitch their products to a carefully curated panel of Angel investors, mentors and business leaders.
Startups selected to partake in the Tech4africa Ignite pitches will be given five minutes to showcase their products, with the opportunity to gain not only potential investors but also invaluable exposure to the wider Tech4Africa audience of thought leaders, decision makers, journalists, influential people and potential recruits.
From the initial applications, a select group of the most innovative startups will be chosen. This group will each be asked to present a working prototype of their product in front of the judging panel at Tech4Africa. The presentations will take place in the main auditorium at the conference, which runs from 27 to 28 October 2011.
Gareth Knight, the Managing Director of Tech4Africa, motivated the case for a competition like Ignite by using a number of high profile examples of startups who had gone onto greater success because of presentations they had made at tech conferences:
“Twitter, FourSquare and Gowalla ‘broke’ in the US market, through their pitch stand demonstrations at SXSW,” he said, referring to the interactive component of the film, interactive and music festival, South by South West, held annually in Austin, Texas.
Knight went on to speak about the motives behind Tech4Africa’s decision to launch the Ignite initiative saying, “Our DNA is: engage, inspire, enable and innovate and it is for this reason that we decided to launch Ignite to highlight amazing ideas and allow African startups to use Tech4Africa as a platform to enable them to gain valuable press exposure and early stage investment.”
From the top eight presentations, a winner will be chosen. Although there is no formal prize, the winner will be given the chance to present their product to the entire Tech4Africa audience. They will also receive valuable exposure and profiling through the Tech4Africa website and Tech4Africa.tv.
The names which will appear on the judging panel have yet to be released, although Tech4Africa are stressing the high calibre of the speakers who will be appearing at this year’s conference.
The keynote addressees include Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, and Herman Chinery-Hesse, sometimes referred to as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’. Spear and Chinery-Hesse join African and international thought leaders from organisations like Amazon, Hewlett Packard, Johns Hopkins University and Mozilla, amongst others.
The deadline for Ignite submissions is 31 August and the finalists will be announced in the first week of September.