Friday, 20 September 2013

Shakili: A Content and Knowledge Sharing Platform for Teachers

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Looking Back while Staring at the Future

Hello there,
Well it’s been a while since I posted here, lots of things, projects and hustles have kept me busy. But as I turn 25, I’d love to share this post with you.
For your information I started this blog in 2011 with a simple goal. Share my knowledge and experiences in entrepreneurship, careers and social media with class mates at the University of Nairobi; school of Business. My entry to blogging inspired others in our class to start blogs & publishing online. People like Wesley, Walter, Muthoni, Kato, Mariah among others have becoming better than me at it & consistently post great articles.

Well as I look forward into the future it’s only fair that I reflect upon my past. By the way I still look back at my very first 5 or so posts with amazement.
Well back then I thought to myself, people should know most of these things but post after post I got encouraging and breathtaking feedback.  I got readers beyond my university and I started guest posting on other bigger and authoritative blogs.  The unemployment rates are disturbing, friends were working in bad jobs and need to exit, guys in their 40s sought my career advice, entrepreneurs we’re suffering in silence too and much more. Pessimism filled me…and excitement went away. For someone who was looking forward to clearing school, get a good job, buy a car, get married, build a house, have kids…..I became more worried, fear gripped me. I felt like I wasn’t ready yet!

However I had to do something as my passion for sharing knowledge grew but this was only limited to what I knew, read, heard or experienced. So I kept on thinking of how I could use social media to share what we knew with others who needed that input to scale up, do something or just learn something new.
My first venture was Social Edge Africa, a social media agency which could help brands (Personal, team and corporate) tell/share their stories and niche expertise on social media. That worked but only to a small scale. 

My focus turned to helping social media users and especially university students and lecturers publish and share their own local knowledge and educational content online. SocialPRO clubs initiative was born and we had a SocialPRO social media clubs launch in October 2012.
Fast forward I had to train lecturers on tapping into the massive potential on social media to share knowledge and on the other hand encourage/inspire students to use social networking sites for learning. The task was huge. We had to do it one on one….person by person. People had to publish on different platforms and share that content across other platforms. I was overwhelmed. Our backers left, sponsorship dried up.

Necessity is the mother invention so they say. And that is when the idea of building a local content and knowledge sharing platform was born. The name was Shakili a morph of two words (Share akili) which loosely translates to share knowledge. Shakili is a content distribution and a knowledge sharing platform that offers teachers an easier way to publish, organize and share multimedia educational content with students and interested learners online across devices.
You can read more about Shakili here
So now what are some of the lessons here?

Passion is key: I enjoy what I do, I don’t do it just for the opportunity in it, nor monetary gains. If it was just all about the money I’d be cooling my heels in one of these Multinational firms setting up here. I hear they pay well. However I deeply appreciate and thank all my previous employers, people who gave me a chance to try it out and learn something as well as meet amazing people. I remain forever grateful. That experience comes in handy today!

Collaborate to build: This is 2013. The talented guys are taken by bigger and well paying firms. The bolder guys are in our startup community trying to build something. Those freelancing can be a little bit pricey for startups (The brilliant guys). So my way of working with the best guys has always been to collaborate. Put up a team and share the vision and get to work. Well this hasn’t been easy as well. But at least my model works if you get them to commit and build something together. 

It will be just okay: Sometimes we worry too much over things we got no control over. Well that’s human but no amount of work experience will ever set you up and ready for your first day as an entrepreneur. The grass is greener in business but the water bills are higher too. The commitment, energy, psychological price, emotional input and others untold factors are higher on this end. People stay longer to save more capital but this thing called business doesn’t spin wholly on money. Lessons are key…make mistakes (not twice) and move on. I still make mine. But work on it…stay on track.

Seek validation from the right people: At times I have sought advice from people who just led me astray. Other times I have sought validation from friends to fit in and look cool. At one point I talked to top industry thought leaders (Mentors). Some were kind enough to lend me help but others took advantage of my naivety. It’s a capitalistic world. Some paid me for consultation by buying me coffee or a beer. ( I appreciate) . But the key take away is I now never honour all the invites I get, I have learnt to say a firm NO when my gut instinct feels so. My point here though is just figure it out with whoever you seek to validate your models, assumptions, seek advice, or second opinions.  Always question/think about people who want to help you, who want to partner with you. Think about “What’s in it for them” first and you’ll probably figure out how to approach certain issues.

 The Future for me lies here

 Why be on our waiting list?

1. You’ll get to use the shakili before anyone else does.
2. You’ll help us make our platform better in ways that work for you.
3. Your suggestions could determine the future direction of the product.
4. You’ll get feedback right from the development team. Click here to be among the first to use shakili