Making hardware a little softer

Notes from Hardware Lagos’ Datasheet Conference

Chuma Asuzu
Apr 22, 2019 · 3 min read

When we set out to organize a conference, we had already organized eight meetups over the last three years. Our participants had told us about how great the events had been and how much they had learnt each time they came out for one of the events.

The conference ran for three days starting from Thursday, April 4th until Saturday, April 6th.

The first two days were dedicated to technical workshops on topics that had routinely been requested from our feedback surveys: Developing IoT Mesh Networks, Urethane Casting, Managing a Makerspace and Building off-grid solar power. We wanted these workshops to be intense learning environments and limited the participation to only 20 people per workshop.

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Participants at the workshops.

The workshops were given by technical experts from outfits like Lumkani, the South African company producing alarm systems, and SunHive, the Nigerian solar energy engineering provider.

On Saturday, the focus was different. Business development but for hardware businesses was the theme of the sessions. While many technology events focus on the technology, as they rightly should, going to market with a hardware product takes more of an investment and it’s only right that talking about the business aspects is more important.

Here, we listened to a range of speakers. Starting with Sesinam Dagadu of SnooCODE telling us about the location-mapping technology which has been used by Ghana’s National Ambulance Service and is being developed to power drones, to Kolawole Akinboye of Rensource Energy giving behind the scene details of their project empowering SME clusters in the Kano with microutilities.

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But the best part of the day was the panel discussion with Chidimma Onyeokoro of Concept Group, Ifeanyi Okonkwo of Tizeti, and Tunde Onilude of SOLO Phone on strategies for going to market with a hardware product.

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Hardware product development is still pretty tough, especially in Nigeria. Last year, we ran a survey among our members and saw that while it’s easier to build a prototype than before, it is still painful to move forward with that prototype to a product.

One of the ways we think could help is a mentorship programme where hardware developers are paired with an experienced mentor. The programme will run in yearly cycles with a minimum time commitment for both mentor and mentee. We call it Advisory Board.

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All five mentors, some in Nigeria and some abroad.

Applications are currently open to anyone in Nigeria building a hardware product and has a proof of concept with the plan to go to market. While there is a long way to go for hardware, we want to make it’s development softer.

Special thanks to our sponsors Major Concepts, Kuunda3D, Youth For Technology, Imisi 3D and Involute Lab.

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