#Hack.Jozi Challenge is a project of the City of Johannesburg and the JCSE (Joburg Centre for Software Engineering) at Wits University. Ravi Naidoo, executive director for Economic Development for the City of Johannesburg, says they were overwhelmed not only by the number of entries to the 2016 #Hack.Jozi Challenge but also by their quality.
“The 2016 shortlist of ten finalists is an impressive list of young people with new and innovative ideas in the digital arena,” he says. “After a rigorous process that has been playing out over the past six weeks, we now have ten superb businesses which have fought through three rounds of the competition and have been judged on the technical feasibility of their venture, scalability and the wow-factor.
“We have touched more than 100 entrepreneurs through this challenge. A demo day will be held on Friday, 13 May when all ten tech-preneurs will present their ideas that they have thrashed out with their peers and mentors during the course of the challenge.
“We are also pleased to see that other government agencies such as the City of Cape Town and the Department of Water and Sanitation have taken a cue from the City of Joburg to embrace the digital era in their environments and encourage technology innovation as a way to address relevant problems and promote entrepreneurship.”
Feedback from participants has been extremely positive.
“My developer and I struggled for six months to solve one of the issues on our application,” says Barend Craven of TimeWise. “Prof Barry Dwolatzky of the JCSE suggested a solution in five minutes that solved our problem.”
Now, judges will have to make the difficult decision on which aspiring business will win R1 million and two runners up which will win R350 000 each. All three will be supported by a business mentor who will guide them on how best to use the prize money and further develop their idea into a successful profitable enterprise.
The top three winners of the 2016 #HackJozi Challenge will be announced on Thursday, 19 May 2016.
Potential tech-preneurs were called on earlier this year to develop technology solutions to everyday Jozi problems and enter the #Hack.Jozi Challenge.
The top one hundred entrants, all start-up entrepreneurs, attended a special entrepreneurship and business training boot camp geared to helping them develop their great digital ideas into possible business opportunities. The top 20 selected received additional business mentorship.
The top 10 will enjoy a one-year free membership of the well-known ICT Hub in Braamfontein, which is a Wits University initiative under the leadership of Professor Barry Dwolatzky.
Its success in its launch year in 2015 saw the City of Johannesburg commit R5 million for the second #Hack.Jozi Challenge this year.
“This competition is designed to accelerate early stage ICT startups. It supports capacity development, job creation and enterprise development in our City,” says Naidoo.
The city will not take any equity in any of the businesses.