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28 Year Old Ugandan Creates Messenger App


Three years ago, two young boys, 25 year old Peter Ojambo, and 23 year old Innocent Bugema, walked up to my office following my appearance on the 91.3 Capital FM premier show- Desert Island Discs Programme. Peter had completed his degree in Computer Science from Makerere University two years earlier, while Innocent had just completed a financially grueling self-sponsored degree in Accounting. Peter had been struggling with a dream- a facebook-like product made by Africans and for Africans with Innocent helping him to market it. I thought these boys were crazy but they looked determined and focussed and told me they had come for inspiration on how to soldier on.

Clearly confused, I sat them down and asked them to tell me.Peter pulled out an old I-Phone2 and showed me his project. When he demonstrated it, It looked real but embarrassingly too slow. He also looked tired and his lips were dry. I offered him some water to first cool down. As he sipped away, he took me through the whole thing. It looked convincing but not far different from Facebook. I told him his engineering prowess was in the clouds, but his product-differentiation skills had been found wanting. I therefore advised him he needed to do more and think harder about something different from Facebook.

“We only need your support and connections. We feel we can make it better,” they begged.

I am very patient with fantastic young dreamers, so i chose to give them support. I gave them transport and told them to keep in touch. the following week, our first point of attack was to spread the link through my network of friends on the continent who would embrace on but that’s where it stopped. I Tried to assist them talk to some journalists. One chap from BBC agreed to speak to them but later on went silent. Perhaps, like me, he had thought this was a crazy idea that would never make it through. At that point i got so busy that i forgot about their project.

After a whole year of their own digital trials and few phone call updates to my office, the boys returned in 2014 and told me their link, www.piqsho.com, had been detected by Google and for this, the guys at Silicon Valley had handsomely enticed Peter to abandon his idea move to the United States to work for them.

“I am so frustrated, I want to work this time and earn something. I have come to let you that I am leaving. Thank you for your mentorship, ” Peter said.

His friend Innocent was worse off. He asked me if i could get him a job at Red Pepper so he could continue supporting his sister. After all, his friend was leaving. I sat in my office compound and looked at these boys shedding tears. I had never felt soo much pain in my chest especially for innovators like these young boys. So I asked them why they had decided to throw in the towel.

“You seem to be busy and helping out others. We no longer want to burden you for more money. Lets shelve our idea and first try something else,” they emphasized.

After two minutes of silence, I told them that if the Google fellows were looking for Peter, that showed something about him. I therefore advised them to stay put told them tot stay put and forget about Silicon Valley. I promised I would try to connect them to funders but with a warning against the possibility of their idea being taken over.
“We don’t mind,” they interjected.

Bu the moment I realized they were naively willing to to risk anything, I reached for a safer opportunity and called Mr. Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Affairs. When he picked, I narrated the whole story to him and asked how they can benefit from the Youth Livelihood Programm Fund.

“They must be 10 in number and coming from the same locality,” Pius said of the boys.

There was one problem. Innocent was from the central region while Peter was hailing from the East. How would they connect? From which locality? And where would they get the other 8 members from that would be willing to buy into their crazy idea? Besides, when would the money come and how much?

I shelved the idea and asked the boys if we could press on with meagre resources and slowly improve the product.

“If this thing looks like Facebook, we feel we can change course to an APP that would rival WhatsApp. But this too needs money to invest in a server and recruit a team of programmers,” they suggested.

I asked them what it took to do it. They said it was going to be very expensive because it was going to involve some constant flow of money to survive on and also look after their programmers all of whom were students.

I told them i would move to help them rent an office in Makerere Kivulu and proceed to contact someone in the United States to help and offer them a dedicated server. We succeeded on this front and the App development started. When work started, I told to do this not for themselves but for Africa. I wanted something to come out of the continent that will take this country places. They assured me they would do it and i flagged them off and forgot about them.

Early this year, they returned with some good news. A Ugandan philanthropist who doesn’t wish to be named had taken them on and housed them in a small office downtown in Nakivubo from where a ‘Piqsho’ Messenger App has been born.

Last month, they came to visit and demonstrated the new innovation. Amazing stuff but it’s still work in progress. I have asked them to protect their innovation which they had done. A radio station I am associated with, 103.4 Juice FM, has boosted marketing of the App on credit guaranteed by myself. They have done so.

I feel at this point they don’t have to thank me. They have a huge mountain to climb and prove that a good African story is about to come out of this continent. This App is amazing. It is perhaps the first of its kind on the continent. It has more group space than WhatsApp. It is from Uganda and made by young Ugandans below the age of 30.

I am very happy to have seen these boys through to this stage. Their App is growing and I pray that one day, patriotic Africans will support them. It happens in the U.S. This humble little boy Peter Ojambo is a genius. He’s a Zuckerberg. I have no more words for him.

This country has so much untapped genius but we don’t care to find out and support this talent. So frustrated it is that most of it will betaken away to serve other countries. I was lucky to have stopped this boy from moving to the United States. Others like him might be leaving this country because there’s no clear system of identifying and supporting innovators like Ojambo.

I don’t want to rant anymore. Here below the link to the App which you can download on any Android-supported smart gadget and start chatting with your friends. Journalists and donors who wish to contact these boys (pictured), can look for me.
End of story!!!

THE PIQSHO APP: Check out “Piqsho messenger” – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.piqsho.p

YOU may also follow them on their Twitter handle @Piqshoinc
or through this link https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=Piqsho

AND FACEBOOK ON https://www.facebook.com/Piqsho/?fref=ts

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