Posted by: Administrator | September 21, 2010

Jkuat Endeavor Open day: What went down

The event kicked off with Isaac recognizing the present guests namely Samuel Kamochu from Safaricom, Alex Mwaura from Creative Edge, Solomon Kariri from DataDyne, Mark Mwongela from Verviant Consulting, Mr. Odhiambo, chairman Computing Department and Dr. Waweru, the ICSIT director. The MC for the day was Edward Ochieng, the ICSIT student representative.

The opening speech came from Dr. Waweru. He re-affirmed ICSIT’s commitment to supporting the Endeavor program in order to help students. The end result would be the institute (ICSIT) producing graduates well suited for the current job market.

Dr Waweru

Dr. Waweru giving the opening speech

Next on stage was Alex Mwaura from Creative Edge giving a talk on “Social Media and Web 2.0”. Alex was the SCOSIT vice chairman while he was here (JKUAT). He started off by asking the audience what Web 2.0 meant. Web 2.0 is basically a new way of doing things on the web with emphasis on interactivity as opposed to how it was before. Examples of social media given by the audience included twitter, facebook, MySpace and 2go. Alex encouraged the audience to use social media and Web 2.0 to market their products mainly because

  • It is cheap
  • It is personal

Examples of companies who have used social media and web 2.0 to market their products successfully include Starbucks, Heineken and Dominican Pizza.

Solomon Kariri from DataDyne was next on stage. He gave a talk on “Freelancing and mobile application development”. He gave a brief history of his experience with freelancing and how it helped him earn some money while still in school (He is also a JKUAT alumni). He encouraged the students to register on freelancing web sites such as He pointed out the following

  • Success in developing apps depends on the quality of code and the believe you have in yourself.
  • The need to identify the needs of the market when developing any app.
  • The need to focus on web and mobile applications as opposed to desktop apps (Solomon never did desktop application while in school).

Solomon further pointed out the challenges faced when developing mobile apps namely

  • Unavailable resources (The way I understood this was that it is hard to get funding).
  • Resource limitation – phones can’t do a lot of processing so you have to limit features in the app.

Next we had remarks from Mr. Odhiambo, chairman Computing department. He encouraged the students to learn to research by themselves and not always wait for lecturers to come to class and teach. He also pointed out that as a department we had good resources in terms of computers and internet which were not being well utilized by the students.

Samuel Kamochu from Safaricom was next on stage. Samuel was one the founders of the Jkuat Endeavor initiative and so it was a privilege to have him back here for the event. He gave a talked titled “Do it different”. He advised the students on how to go about when developing applications. Highlights from his talk were

  • Your idea should solve a problem.
  • Don’t be money oriented.
  • Team work.
  • Concentrate on design, functional requirements and documentation.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Use standards and existing frameworks.
  • Provide software as a service.
  • Have a working demo to make it easier to source funding.
  • Writing code is different from running a business.
Mark Mwongela from Verviant Consulting

Mark Mwongela takes the audience through e-commerce

Mark Mwongela from Verviant was next on stage. His talk was titled “E-commerce in Kenya”. He first highlighted the benefits of e-commerce namely

  • Reduces cost.
  • 24 hour business operation.
  • No geographical limitations.

E-commerce basically involves the following

i. Find (Product / Service Listing) – How customers can find your site. Think dynamic sites, open source shopping carts, increased access to information and mobile platform for e-commerce.

ii. Payments – how customers will pay for the items on your site. Available integrators for the Kenyan market include Mobi-Pay, PesaPal, Jambo-Pay, Money-a-Mickle and SleekPay.

iii. Shipping options – how do the products get to the customer? You can use courier services offered by buses, bikes e.t.c as opposed to the old way of sending items through the post office.

iv. Customer service –to better your customer service you can use Live Help, online chat, VOIP (Gmail calls, Skype, Yahoo) and blogging.

v. Marketing / Advocacy – you can use social media (tackled by Alex) and email marketing.

He also pointed the various success stories in e-commerce in Kenya namely,, and amongst others.

Everybody took a 10 minutes break as we had been sitting for a long time. After the break the students were given refreshments (I usually enjoy this part the most!).

The last talk for the day was from Jeremiah Kamau from Google Kenya. The talked was titled “Cool applications of Google maps”. Jeremiah talked about Google App Engine, Google App Marketplace, Reseller programs by Google for email hosting amongst other things. He talked extensively about the Google Earth API giving examples where Google Earth has been used. The one which impressed me was an app used in Switzerland to track movement of trains. You can check it out here.

We then all went for lunch as it was time. Students made their own arrangements but the guests had theirs arranged for by the event organizers.

Students presenting

The panel of judges seem convinced

Immediately after the lunch break the students started their presentations. There were five presentations in total namely

1. Destination Kenya – a web site that helps tourists check places of interest in Kenya and make accommodation arrangements online.

2. Jazika – A web application for buying / selling second hand items within a community such as the university. It helps to link buyers and sellers of second hand items.

3. Online Academy – a web application that students can use to revise for their examinations. It provides past papers and an examination scenario whereby you try out the exam and it marks it and shows you your score.

4. Laptop Kenya – a website that provides information on the available models of laptop and comparative prices across several shops.

5. College Feed – Dissemination of timely and accurate information about the life of a student using a web based system. It integrates Live Feeds, Twitter and Google Earth (for event location). This was my favorite app!

The panel judges after deliberating for a lengthy period of time announced the winner of the competition. In third place was Online Academy. Each member in the group was given a wireless mouse or a 4 GB flash disk. In second place was Jazika. Each member in the group was given an Orange modem with unlimited internet for 7 days and 1,000 shillings Orange credit.

CollegeFeed receiving presents

CollegeFeed, the winners of the competition all smiles as they receive their reward

The winners were College Feed (their app was really cool, a demo will be done on Tuesday during SCOSIT’s meeting). Each member in the group walked away with a 250 GB external hard disk (I wish I was part of the group because I really need an external hard disk, any member willing to donate?)!

With that the event came to an end. The closing remarks were made by Mr. Kiula from the ICT directorate. He also informed the students that the directorate (ICT) fully supported Endeavor (Endeavor falls under the ICT directorate). The students’ willingness to do something on the side apart from their normal class work was also recognized and appreciated.

The event was a big success and we would like to thank all those who supported us and made the event a success.

Article by Kirui K. Kennedy ( and Abel Masai


  1. Very inspiring leaves me guilty for missing

  2. It was,we will have other presentations on 2nd October.we will provide all details on the are highly welcomed.

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