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Deadline to Apply for PIVOT East 2015 Extended


January 1, 2015

m:lab East Africa has been receiving applications for its annual startup pitching competition and conference dubbed PIVOT East in the last one month – since April 1st. The deadline for submitting applications was set for yesterday April 30th. In response to a number of requests from potential applicants, the deadline for application submission has been extended by 2 weeks to Sunday 17th May at 11:59 pm EAT. Applicants are advised to take advantage of the two weeks to better prepare their startups profiles and other critical information. Startups may join the competition through the PIVOT East Startups Community Network Information on how to join the competition including eligibility criteria may be found here Important Notes for Applicants

  • Competition portal –
  • Minimum number of team members is two (2)
  • Tag startup entries in a maximum of two (2) competition categories
  • Team composition and commitment is really important in this year’s competition. Ensure that all team members update their personal profiles on their key skills and also include a LinkedIn profile
  • Self Evaluate your startup in the portal using the scorecards
  • Selection criteria for PIVOT East can be found HERE
  • Upload a pitch video maximum 5 minutes that demonstrates passion among founders/key employees to pursue the startup mission and a clear call to action on what the startup is pursuing at PIVOT East 2015 ( Basic video quality is accepted)
  • Upload a demo video or screenshots that showcase key features of the solution

For more inquiry on how to apply for the competition, feel free to send an email at lincoln(at) or egra(at) or visit You can also follow us on twitter @PIVOTEast or like our facebook page

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Devs mentorship by


January 31, 2014

A great idea can be built with almost any technology. They all have their pros/cons. No matter what stack you choose, you’ll pay a certain price for whatever advantages it offers. But really, the success or failure of your project has more to do with vision, leadership,execution, and market than technological choices – Matt Aimonetti.

Johann & Paul from giving a talk to developers

These were the opening words of Paul Schwarz from during a meetup dubbed Tech Trend that was held on 30th Jan at the m:lab. The meetup will be a monthly initiative that will focus on technology trends in the developer world and mentoring sessions for upcoming developers by incubated startups or established tech companies.

In the Tech Trend debut,  Johann & Paul were the guest speakers and they gave a general talk of their start-up from a technology point of view. This included testing tools, development language, framework, analytics tools amongst others. provides a secure accommodation marketplace connecting travellers looking for a cool place to stay, with hosts and their empty beds. It was launched in November 2012 and currently provides over 1,000 accommodation options in Kenya alone. The site has seen traffic grow to 50,000 unique visitors and 130,000 page views per month. They have had numerous successes including winning PIVOT EAST 2013 in the enterprise category. They are currently incubated at the m:lab.

Developers need to know alot of new stuff based on the technologies have incorporated in their development such as test driven development, virtual machines such as Vagrant,  deployment tools such as Capistrano amonst other technical details. Many questions were asked pertaining to Google analytics & Mixpanel analytic tools which are necessary in today’s development due to the need of studying consumer behaviour and measuring out site performance.


Developers at the Tech Trend talk at m:lab’s boardroom

Paul encouraged developers to develop their programming skills so as to be experts in their particular area of specialisation. He personally follows Uncle bob blog and gets involved in open source projects. He is also active in reporting bugs of whichever platforms he uses which have seen him grow immensely and gain other skills in the process.

Feeling a sense of having missed out! look out for February’s Tech Trend Talk.


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A Glimpse of What Happened at PIVOT East 2014 – Urban TV Footage


January 11, 2014

On 24th – 25th June, PIVOT East, East Africa’s most prestigious startup pitching competition and conference went down at the Panari Hotel. The competition was hotly contested with the region’s 25 innovative mobile startups fight it out to win market recognition and investor interest for the fourth consecutive year. Five winners were selected, one from each  category by panels of  judges drawn from among angel investors and representatives from venture capital firms. Below is footage recently aired on Urban TV featuring the PIVOT East proceedings Proceedings at the conference were coordinated and moderated by Kenya’s renown media personalities. These were Citizen TV’s Terryane Chebet and Capital FM’s Eric Latiff. Apart from the nervous, anxious and high energy moments among competing teams, thought leaders explored key trends in East Africa’s Tech scene through fireside chats (panel discussions). The fireside chat discussion topics selected among many other possible themes were :-

Urban TV is a product of Vision Group – Uganda which was one of media partners for PIVOT East 2014. More coverage on urban and youthful culture in Uganda may be found on Urban TV’s youtube channel.

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MPrep Rebrands to Eneza Education


January 31, 2013

Formed with an ultimate aim of solving problems that lead to students failing, Eneza connects students to study tools, teachers and parents to data to help their children improve, and educational leaders to resources. Most importantly, they are creating a network in which the dialogue around student learning grows, enticing schools to collaborate and compete.


Two years down the line, the company is moving to a another level. MPrep will be rebranding to Eneza Education Ltd in a few days. They will be announcing it on their new site, but they have already begun making moves via social media.

In a few weeks, Eneza will also launch a co-branded product with Safaricom, Kenya’s Telecom Company known worldwide for its mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa. This event will take place at M.M Chandaria Primary School in Baba Dogo, Nairobi and will highlight the successes of students that have been using the system since its founding.

Eneza is a platform that unites students, parents and teachers via mobile technology. Students can access quizzes, mini-lessons and tips and tricks on local content via the web, mobile web, and a USSD/SMS-based system. Eneza has also started an initiative to get students reading. It’s called “Spreading Stories,” and it includes paper booklets of stories that students can take comprehension quizzes on via the mobile phone. Parents and teachers interact with Eneza by viewing reports on their students and getting tips and tricks aligned to topics and subjects.

The organization participated in Pivot East 2012 and won in the mobile society category. Currently they are incubated at m:lab East Africa. Apart from the physical space for working, they have access to internet and other business facilities at a subsidized rates. They also benefit from intense and customized entrepreneurship training, hours of coaching and business advisory and also receive support, advice and linkage to early stage funding at m:lab East Africa.


Jacky and Chris Asego From Eneza Education on their normal day-to-day activities in the Office

In January 2013, Eneza secured a seed round of investment of $200,000 USD. Led by Eleos Foundation with an investment from the local fund, Savannah Fund, Eneza will be further proving out their business model, building their network, and providing additional content to students, teachers and parents. They aim to become the go-to distribution channel for other content providers and a data source for educational stakeholders.

With the aim of assessing the impact of Eneza as a tool for revision, they conducted an impact study during the course of last year at M.M Chandaria Primary School. The impact study that took a period of nine months involved 30 students who were picked randomly. From the impact study, it was noted that there was an improvement in academics from the students who participated in the impact study by 9%.

All startups face challenges during the initial stages, this is the same case with Eneza. Language is one of the barrier especially dealing with students in the remote areas who have a limited understanding in English and even Kiswahili. Another challenge is the fact that they are using simple technology that does not wow many people. Most of the time, the media and general public are interested in high tech innovations.

So far, Eneza has around 12,000 students at over 400 schools across Kenya using the student tool, and around 20 schools subscribing to their data. Their aim is to reach 100,000 students, 5,000 teachers, and 2,000 parents by the end of the year.


Eneza Education Team

Check out the their demo video here.

For more information on Eneza Education Ltd, watch out for their new website You can also view their facebook page: or follow them on twitter:

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Working with intellectual property rights in East Africa


January 31, 2013

One challenge that mobile startups have continued to face recently in East Africa lies in the question of whether to spend time, money and other resources in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection. Startups are often convinced that their ideas and innovations are unique and that they only should rightly pursue monetization for the ideas and innovations. The entrepreneurs are often seen to go to great lengths to keep their ideas secret or at least protected from disclosure to “idea thieves”. Prioritising execution of the idea versus securing Intellectual Property (IP) rights for the same becomes a dilemma for many.


More often than not, it turns out that many other people within the target legal jurisdiction or somewhere else in the world have had the same idea. Sometime startups discover that someone else even went ahead to execute the idea. Worse still the same idea or innovation may already be protected through patents or other types of IP assets and the startup’s further execution of the idea potentially infringes on the other peoples formerly secured IP rights. Having to participate in competitions such as Pivot East with products of such ideas becomes a further challenge of protection and disclosure to startups. Then

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there is the argument of whether or not ideas by themselves are protectable. Some lawyers even go further to argue that most East African IP regimes are such that it is not possible to patent or otherwise protect software beyond default copyright rules. With such dismissive arguments, startups often perceive local lawyers as too simplistic and discouraging to their IP protection ambitions. General professional suspicion and perceived costs of legal services do not help either to support startups ambitions of participating in the global IP rights value chain. Going back to global technology trends, it has become apparent that accumulating an arsenal of patents and other IP assets is an important strategy for global IT players to secure future revenue streams. The question for local entrepreneurs and innovators therefore becomes: if Google, Samsung, Apple and others are aggressively securing IP rights then what can we do to be part of that ostensibly lucrative global IP rights value chain? It is common expectation that with East Africa leading in various aspects of mobile innovations, regional innovators are dealing at the cutting edge of related technologies. Mobile money is definitely one of the aspects where the region is leading. It should therefore not surprise many to see local innovators lodge successful claims to IP rights for innovations that are globally unique and patentable. Given these questions and challenges, Pivot East 2013 organisers will hold a workshop for entrepreneurs and IP practitioners to network and exchange views on how to navigate IP rights issues for competitive advantage. An emerging trend where professionals other than lawyers are offering IP support to entrepreneurs as IP practitioners will be explored. The workshop will be on Tuesday 5th February 2013, 3pm – 5pm and will be hosted at iHub – Nairobi. Entrepreneurs, lawyers, business advisors and IP practitioners are invited to contribute to the discussion and to network. A keynote presentation on global trends in IP practice will be made by Dr. Derek Palmer, the Managing Director of ProspectIP, an Intellectual Property Management company based in the UK. Derek Palmer is also investor and non-executive director of a number of technology companies. The workshop will also see officials from KIPI share an update on patents and other IP rights secured in Kenya. Representatives from local mobile startups will also share their experiences with IP protection. To attend the forum, participants may reserve spaces via EventBrite here

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