The best things in life are free
The annual Net Prophet conference is due to back in Cape Town on Thursday, 12 May 2011, at the Campus Courtyard of Old Mutual’s HQ, Mutualpark. The conference, free to delegates, is the premier Internet technology conference in the country, and will this year see speakers from South Africa, Kenya, Europe and the US participating.
The Net Prophet conference was started in 2009 by the RAMP Foundation, a section 21 (non-profit) organisation, set up by the Ramp Group, owners of app developers White Wall Web, the ISP RSAWEB and VOIP solutions provider Even Flow.
Rob Gilmour, co-founder and MD of RSAWEB, says the business started right out of varsity as a partnership between him and three friends some 10 years ago. As the business grew, Gilmour and his partners started to look for ways in which to give back to the tech community.
Slightly naively, they decided to hold a conference in a bid to inspire others to follow in their own entrepreneurial path. It would be funded by combining the CSI budgets of the RAMP Group companies. For the first conference, they expected 200 people – 450 rocked up. Old Mutual’s head of digital was so impressed he signed on as a future conference sponsor.
Last year, around 900 delegates arrived and this year Net Prophet is catering for just fewer than 1000 delegates. The conference has also been expanded with a three day workshop by senior Seedcamp mentor and angel investor Permjot Valia, aimed at mentoring 10 promising start-up entrepreneurs prior to the conference.
Gilmour sees the mentoring workshop as a way to create buzz around SA tech start-ups in VC (venture capital) capitals such as London. The more angel investors are introduced to the country, the bigger the chance that their interest will go beyond sight-seeing to actual investment in local start-ups. It’s about creating a buzz around the local start-up scene on the international stage.
Ultimately, Gilmour hopes to see a week of Net Prophet events and workshops alongside the conference. While Net Prophet is a one-day shot in the arm for the local tech industry, Gilmour encourages delegates to plug into the Silicon Cape initiative, which he says offers a broader ‘ecosystem’ benefiting new ventures.
While past speaker presentations are available in video and audio on the Net Prophet site, this year will see the event live streamed for the first time. With the rise of social media and the popularity of tweeting at conferences, Gilmour reckons those following the conference off-site might be inspired to break from work to follow talks their peers are recommending via Facebook or Twitter.
SA’s first electric car, the Joule, will also be showcased at this year’s conference, with delegates able to take a closer look at the car.
Read the full story on BizCommunity.