The only way to do great work is to have the passion for what you do and Mixo is the perfect example of that. He is a Btech student specializing in IT and he is also the founder of Geekulcha, which is a tech hub for IT students. So in the interview Mixo tells us more about his business, his achievements and his future plans for Geekulcha.
YV: Tell us about yourself?
Mixo: My name is Mixo, a massive soccer fanatic who has a passion for entrepreneurship. I am currently doing my Btech in IT at Tshwane University of Technology and specializing in Business Informatics. Most of my time is spent at “mLab” (mlab.co.za) in Pretoria where I’m running my startup called Geekulcha. My obsession with mobile devices, especially smartphones has led me to learning more about developing mobile apps and also creating a platform for others to learn about mobile development. So I am always coming up with ideas for apps which I give to others to develop. I am also a Microsoft Student Partner (MSP) and represent Tshwane University of Technology. My task is to connect Microsoft with IT students from TUT so they can attend Microsoft events and learn about Microsoft technologies. When I’m not doing all those things you can find me behind a sound mixer doing sound as a sound engineer.
YV: What is INNOvatorz.IT?
Mixo: Geekulcha (INNOvatorz.IT) is a vibrant tech hub for IT students, young working IT professionals and basically anyone who has an interest in IT and technology. We use the Geekulcha platform to connect mostly IT students all across the country so they can share ideas and knowledge, help each other out with school and IT related matters, hold discussions and debates.
Geekulcha is well connected with the IT and mobile industry so we use that advantage to take students to workshops, tech events and IT industry visits so they can get exposure and learn something different from their normal campus walls. We also do organize our own events.
The most important part of Geekulcha is where the students put their skills to work. This is done through IT competitions, Hackathons (programming competition which can last for 48hours) and development of mobile apps website.
YV: How long has it been running for?
MIxo: Geekulcha was started in April 2011 while it was known as INNOvatorz.IT. We had to go through some re-branding early this year (2013) to position ourselves properly and that’s when Geekulcha was formed.
YV: Did you start it on your own or do you have people that you working with?
Mixo: I am the Founder of Geekulcha but there is an awesome team of creative young minds all over the country who are heavily involved in running it.
YV: And what was the inspiration behind it?
MIxo: I was selected to be a Microsoft Student Partner in 2011 and my role was to be the link between Tshwane University of Technology and Microsoft. That’s when I noticed the massive gap between the IT student community and the IT industry. So I started Geekulcha with the intension of trying to close that gap by exposing them to the tech industry and creating a platform for them to put their skills to work.
YV: What has been your greatest achievement in owning a business?
MIxo: A lot of exciting things have happened. Some of our community members have been winning competitions. A couple of them have been getting hired and Geekulcha has been privileged to work with the likes of mLab, info dev., Microsoft, Nokia and the Innovation hub. All this has been fun and exciting but the best is yet to come. There is a great line up of companies we will be working with. There is plenty of competitions and events that are on the way all over the country.
YV: And what challenges have you had to face and how did you overcome them?
Mixo: Learning about the startup world. There is so much that I had to learn about running a business from building a team, working on your idea, sacrificing things that you love and actually the legalities of starting a business. I made a mistake by starting the company without checking the availability of the name (which was initially INNOvatorz.IT) and didn’t register a domain name (your .com, .co.za, .org). This forced us to do some serious rebranding and coming up with a new name and look which is Geekulcha. So my advice is do proper research before you start.
YV: What are you hoping to achieve with the business?
Mixo: My vision for Geekulcha is to see it grow and connect as many IT students in South Africa and across our boarders. It should also be able to groom kids that are still in primary so they can be well prepared for the tech world. Geekulcha should also be able to serve the public and business world in providing them with IT solutions. We need our own locally developed Facebook’s and twitters so that is one of the goals which is to have locally relevant start-ups that are using IT to solve problems.
YV: What would your advice be to someone who wants to start their own businesses?
Mixo: If you believe in a certain cause, project or a business idea then chase after it. It’s not easy and there are plenty of challenges but patience and passion will take you far. I learned that no man is an Island so network with other like-minded people and if possible get yourself a mentor. If all fails then join Geekulcha so we can learn about the business world together.
YV: So how can students get to be part of the Innovators. IT group?
Mixo: We are busy with the development of Geekulcha website and mobile apps so keep a lookout for Geekulcha.com and for our mobile app. For the time being let’s connect on:
Facebook page: (facebook.com/Geekulcha)
Also have a look at the mLab website (mlab.co.za) to have a look at the Geekulcha profile and upcoming events hosted by mLab