Exposure: the key to innovative solutions to everyday problems.

Guest post by Michael Larbi, participant in the current training session.

I am Michael Larbi; I want to change my world. I know you may be asking how? Well my vision is to become a leader in innovative solutions to help accelerate the development of Africa in the short to medium term. Currently, I work as the lead software developer at Valley View University, IT Services Department and I am an entrepreneur. I hold a BSc. in Computer Science from the same institution.

Many experiences (i.e. God, Family, Career, education etc.) have contributed to what I am today. My website design experience began when a brother of mine then at KNUST began a search for a book on Dreamweaver to help him with his final year project, which I happened to chanced upon at the Ghana Book Trust. My curiosity led me into learning and practicing how to design websites. I found out about QBasic programming which also caught my interest and that was the beginning of my programming experience too. My programming 1 partner at the University and I never moved out of the computer lab until we had challenged ourselves enough to complete all the assignments given us. These experiences helped increased my passion for programming and the discipline of perseverance because programming can be hell sometimes when a bug can keep you thinking forever.

I have developed many applications across various industries like education, religion, etc. using technologies like php/mysql, C#.Net, Java, Flash/ Action script, Android,HTML,Javascript,CSS,AJAX etc. I have also played around with some few mobile technologies like wap/wml, J2ME etc. but my love for mobile application development began when I discovered the wap/wml technology but didn’t pursue it further until Android came to the scene. I just love android and this has given me the opportunity to assist in the training of students at the Institute of Computer Science, Valley View University on Mobile Application Development using Android and Windows Mobile.

When I saw the mobile web Ghana training ad on facebook, my curiousity took me to their website and I was convinced that this was the place to spend my annual leave. I realized later the training will go beyond my leave period so I had wanted to redraw after being selected but thank God for my mom who encouraged me to come and I must say I have never regretted listening to her advice.

The concept of bringing young but smart entrepreneurs to share their experiences was such an encouragement to me. Though I am currently employed, the ultimate for me has always been to set up my own company so this training could not have come at a better time than this.

I have lots of ideas but its one thing having them and then actually implementing them and turning them into profitable businesses. That is all that the training is giving me and I’m excited about this like crazy.

To be exposed to creating simple SMS applications which provide value-added services to people, can make so much money once the subscriber base increases was such an eye opener. With this knowledge I have started building a mobile services platform for Valley View University called VVU Mobile which will include among other services GPA request, Grades Request, mVoting, exams timetable request etc. It was such fun when I made some of the students text their studentID and password to a number for their GPA and its interpretation.

Though I chose the technology track I was so much enthused about the business track teaching us about market research, business plans, value prepositions, revenue streams etc. The whole understanding of the mobile ecosystem and their functions was really great. Below are some of the quotes as quoted by the Entrepreneurs who passed through the training sessions:

  • “Protect what makes you valuable”
  • “The Street will decide” – Don’t be afraid of competitions
  • “Know the limit of your technology”
  • “In life you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”

Currently, my team is developing a reliable transportation platform, incorporating all the knowledge acquired, which is relevant to the socio-economic development of Ghana code name Safiri.

In conclusion, I will say that the training has really been an eye opener as I anticipated and I must commend and thank the organizers and coordinators for such a wonderful idea. I will recommend it to anyone who is serious about building a mobile services business.