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[June 29, 2014]
Improving Lives With Technology, PopOut CEO Maximus Ametorgoh [Ventures Africa]
(Ventures Africa Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) VENTURES AFRICA – Africa is rapidly adapting tech culture. Everyday, access to technology is made possible by continued increase in mobile penetration. And in some African countries more people have access to a mobile phone than to clean water, a bank account or electricity, according to a World Bank and the African Development Bank report.
In the last decade, technology has proven to be one of the most promising and profitable sectors in the world, with Africa, often qouted as the as the next frontier for most industries, marked as a next goldmine. And with technology becoming part of everyday life, young tech savvy Africans creating local apps that are socially and economically beneficial to local communities, an impressive number of techpreneurs are rising on the continent.
One of those insightful technopreneurs that have make a lead way into this profitable innovative path is Ghana's Maximus Ametorgoh whose love for the industry streamed from what can be achieved when connected to the Internet. Today, 36-year old Maximus is helping to drive technological growth in Ghana, and perhaps Africa, through his work as a technology consultant, social media strategist, advertiser, writer and speaker.
Although advertising was his first occupation after university education, Maximus has over the years managed to excel with the media via the use of technology and by helping Ghana create a vibrant tech industry in the past five years – designing websites, screensavers, flash animations, and later tech events. His interest in helping to give Ghanaian techies a voice in the global tech space led him to create PopOut, a company that brands events and apps from the advertising background.
PopOut is the brain behind TopApps Award – Ghana’s first and premier apps exhibition and awards which has had supports from multinational tech companies like Google and Nokia as well as the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT. Since the first edition of the award in 2012 which featured 65 apps nominated in 9 categories, the award has become a red carpet event for app developers and stakeholders in the Gold Coast.
According to him, the name "PopOut" was coined to reflect the project of his dream of creating a company which will “help brands, people and businesses stand out attractively.” "We market them from the same experience. We see products and the tech industry from the point of view of business and advertising," he says.
Maximus is not just in the tech market to give recognition to tech startups in West Africa's second largest economy, he has also created his own apps-BoxBuzz and Autolert. BoxBuzz, an SMS alert system which sends text messages to owners of Post Office box addresses whenever they receive a letter in their boxes aims to turn the Post Office system into a trendy, efficient, and tech-driven experience. Last year, BoxBuzz was the only app selected from Ghana at the top 40 African startups at DEMO Africa, one of the flagship initiatives of US-backed LIONS@frica, which aims to connect African startups to the global ecosystem.
The idea to create BoxBuzz stems from the problems people encounter with their post office boxes, especially not knowing when a letter arrives. He came up with the idea to create a simple solution which will help post offices alert P.O Box owners whenever they have a letter or parcel to pick up.
BoxBuzz will remain relevant even with the proliferation of instant messaging and email platforms in this era, Maximus says.
According to him, some new courier service features have been integrated to alert recipients of parcels and bus terminals that deliver parcels. Although he willingly accepts that the "more relevant the post office becomes, the higher the value of BoxBuzz," Maximus hopes that the app which has been unofficially launched at DEMO Africa in Kenya will become relevant over time.
Maximus said with about 319 post offices in Ghana, BoxBuzz could transcend the use of Post office from delivering messages and emails to parcels and packages phone, tablet, television, flowers, shoes and other valuables.
"We have to think big. Every idea must have a big life and ambitious future," he says.
Beside Boxbuzz and PopOut, Maximus is also the creator of Autolerts, an alert app that sends a maximum of four alerts within timelines to alert drivers on when to renew their Road Worthy, Vehicle Income Tax, Auto Insurance and Drivers’ License. It also allows drivers to create their own alerts via SMS.
He plans to launch both businesses before the end of the year as some partnership deals are already underway in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and China.
Maximus however pointed out that things (launching the business) in Ghana are a bit slow due to Government bureaucracy. He said that the key challenges faced by startups in Ghana include funding for great apps, lack of insights into app development by developers, weak networking ability and partnerships, as well as lack of data and research information on various industries.
Like in most African countries, he said, government always talks about their policy and strategy for the sector but nothing concrete is being done.
"Active involvement is missing, funding is not forth coming," he added.
He also noted that corporate organisations are not also filling in the void created by the government as most of them do not even patronise local apps.
Maximus opined that these challenges could be addressed with more focused policy from government, startup development policies, access to finance, networking and partnership among developers and related industries, and local market insights.
He added that the only way for Ghana tech industry to achieve its full potential is through achieved government policy, industry strategy for growth (stakeholders developing a strategy for the industry), collaboration among developers, funding, partnership with other related industries, research and development and market insights.
While he hopes to remain a technology activist and consultant, an app developer as well as a venture capitalist, Max says Africa's tech future is bright and promising as its economies are growing and expanding. "Technology will help Africa leapfrog the development gap and compete competitively. Businesses will also pick up with the help of technology and industrialisation," he says.
To budding entrepreneurs and techpreneurs, Maximus says "Keep pushing and working hard, grow like a seed, focus on developing products of value before thinking of capital and learn to partner with people from like industry." (c) 2014 Ventures Africa. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).
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