We speak to the team behind Techila Con, a new virtual event from Egypt, bringing together industry experts and entrepreneurs for masterclasses, hackathons and networking.
Despite COVID-19 interrupting business as usual, the Middle East’s startup ecosystem has quickly responded to obstacles presented by lockdown and social distancing. While many companies, large and small, have pivoted and reworked their services or products to be able to survive in a new, contactless world, some industries are seemingly on hiatus for the foreseeable future. However, that did not stop the mavericks behind a new tech entrepreneurship event from cancelling their big debut. “We didn’t think it would get better soon despite many optimistic thoughts and so, initially we just postponed the event to the end of year. We then decided, why not adapt to the current situation?” explain the team behind Techila Con (pronounced just like tequila). The two-day event has evolved from a sprawling in-person event set to be held at Cairo’s GrEEK Campus, into an equally in-depth, accessible online event.
Organised by Startups Galaxy and Code Geist in an exclusive partnership where Startups Galaxy is an ever-evolving database and platform for startup discovery and entrepreneurship resources and Code Geist is organization dedicated for building tech-preneurial character and embracing Egypt's Tech Ecosystem through hackathons and hack days, Techila Con is shaping up to be a pivotal event for Egypt’s ecosystem. With masterclasses led by industry experts, opportunities to learn the latest enterprise tools and softwares and a chance to network with like-minded entities and individuals, the event’s programming is certainly top-notch. Techila Con has teamed up with iconic names in tech, including Microsoft, GoDaddy, Instabug, Twillo, Pipedrive, Segment, as well as ecosystem linchpins such as the GrEEK Campus, Algebra Ventures, Cairo Angels, Ebda3 Misr, Startups Without Borders and more, to make sure the two days are chock-full of opportunities to learn, connects and develop.
We talked to the Techila Con’s founding team - Startups Galaxy CEO Nono Ghanem and Code Geist CEO Nour Abdel Aal - to find out more about the event’s unique debut.
How and when did the idea for Techila Con come about?
We started to build Techila in November 2019. Startups Galaxy and Code Geist have worked together before through hackathons during Sefr Wahed since 2018. Code Geist has been creating hackathons for a couple of years, and Startups Galaxy started in 2020 with its events and meetups.
We were sitting together, the four of us: Nono, Nour, Abdel Ahmed Hamdy and Ali Badawy. It was a casual setting and we were discussing our plans for the year. Then we thought, why not join forces? Instead of a few small events here and a hackathon there, why not combine? That was the best thing we did, because when we partnered up and worked together, we created something much bigger! We secured international and local sponsors, multiple regional partners and promised to provide quality content in the new joint-brand of Techila Con.
How did COVID-19 change the plan and how did you pivot to get it online?
During March when the lockdowns began to start we had a serious talk immediately about what to do. We didn’t think it would get better soon despite many optimistic thoughts and so, initially we just postponed the event until the end of year. We then decided, why not adapt to the current situation? That’s when we decided to have a “snapshot” of Techila as an online event. We wanted to show our concept to the ecosystem and we wanted to adapt instead of postponing.
We began working on Techila Con Online in February and started thinking of how to make it an engaging event instead of just a webinar. That’s why we have a private Facebook group for the attendees only to network and join and we’re inviting the speakers, sponsors and partners to become part of that group!
3) How does Techila Con differ from other tech and entrepreneurship events?
I think in two main ways. The first one is that we didn’t just decide to create an event, we actually spent at least two to three months talking to people in startups, entities, incubators, venture capital, tech experts, gurus and product creators. Two people in each team from Startups Galaxy and Code Geist, did interviews, surveys and asked what they would like to see and learn. So the bottom-up approach to creating Techila is definitely unique. We deliver content customised and personalised for our audience.
The second is the event style. It’s a laid back event and the official dress code was going to be shorts, t-shirts, flip flops and your backpack. It’s also about taking actions. We don’t want to just give sessions and workshops, we want to focus on tools onboarding where the startups can actually start using and implementing things directly after the event. That’s why, after we converted to Techila Con Online, we invested a lot of time in hand picking sessions and speakers that we know could really help with taking actions, integrating a tool or optimising cost. We’re even starting the online event at 12 PM, continuing into the night!
In the offline event, we will be doing this more and more on a micro-level in our Techila Con on-ground event, which will hopefully be in the last quarter of the year. That’s where we’ll be having Techila Slaps but we’ll tell you about that later!
How are the tools partners contributing to the event and aiding attendees?
The tools partners are giving sessions and also discounts to the startups attending. All the discounts are listed on Startups Galaxy Deals with all the details. There’s a lot of free credits available that go up to $200,000 in benefits.
Can you tell us about the hackathon?
We have an exciting competition for Techila Con Online, starting on 13th June, after the two-day talks and masterclasses. Participants will be tasked to build fun hacks or games. This can be anything from a meme chatbot to a notification tool to remind you to see the latest episode of your TV show. The application form and requirements will be available on the website and we are giving a cash prize to the three winners.
Each product will have a profile online on Startups Galaxy directory under Techila Con and they’ll be available to be viewed by the community for exploration at any time!
What are some of the sessions you are most looking forward to?
We're excited about almost all sessions, every session has its special taste. We’re excited about Pipedrive’s CRM tool since this is their first and largest MENA collaboration. They’re one of the strongest tools worldwide, and decided to offer 90% off all their plans for Techila Con attendees! Also, Maha Abolenein is going to give a session on PR for startups and she works with GaryVee. Definitely our role model!
Find out more and register for Techila Con on their Facebook event page here.
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