So you want to start a business? Come jam with us!

by David Jagoe


 Jagoe 2 

To paraphrase Wikipedia: Jam sessions are often used by musicians to develop new material. They may be based on existing material suggested by one participant, or may be wholly improvisational. Jam sessions can range from gatherings of amateurs to sophisticated improvised recording sessions intended to be edited and released to the public.

Inspired by this concept and examples of technology businesses being kick-started in 48 hours, a small but growing movement of entrepreneurs in Joburg have launched start-up sessions with the aim of kick-starting at least one business over the course of a weekend.

The format is simple – we gather on a Saturday morning, and anyone with a business idea has the opportunity to pitch to the group. Afterwards, individuals may volunteer their weekend and expertise to help turn their favourite idea into a prototype and a business plan.

Like a musical jam there is plenty of scope for improvisation. So if you don’t like any of the ideas, grab a coffee and a couple of unattached participants and brainstorm those not-yet-fully-formed ideas that have been burrowing in your brain while you sleep. You’ll be surprised what might happen.

It goes without saying that for a good jam, you need a mix of musicians: drummers, guitarists, vocalists, maybe a lyricist. Throw in a didgeridoo and you’re really jammin’! Equally, for a good start-up session we need a mix of skills: programmers, artists, business folk. Throw in a lawyer and… well you get the idea.

Seriously, whoever you are and whatever your background, if you’re interested in being involved in a technology start-up, come jam with us!

The next session is taking place on the 2nd and 3rd of October at Wits University. You’re welcome to attend the pitches at 9am and only commit yourself to the full weekend if you like what you see.

Please spread the word and register your interest at

I’d like to thank Mikkel Christiansen and Jarrod Hermer for starting a movement with me and for instigating and driving the weekend start-up sessions. Thanks again Barry for your support and for posting this on my behalf.

2 thoughts on “So you want to start a business? Come jam with us!

  1. I have just had the rare and nice opportunity to speak to a project manager who is working for a well-known South African software producer with international connections. (For an academic working at university, like myself, chances to meet industrial project managers are rather small.)

    I have asked this man if any big industrial insurance company (e.g. Loyd) would be willing to financially insure a software project from going “pear-shaped”, in a similar way in which Loyd would (for example) financially insure a cargo ship full of container freight against sinking in the ocean on its way between the ports of Durban and Shanghai.

    The project manager answered: “no”, Loyd would not insure a software project against failure, and he also said that they had really tried to get such an insurance policy from Loyd.

    What does this “no” from Loyd imply? It implies that, for a big industrial insurance company it is /easier/ to statistically calculate and quantify in financial terms the risk of a cargo ship sinking in the middle of the ocean between Durban and Shanghai, than to calculate and quantify in financial terms the risk of a software project going “pear-shaped”.

    Doesn’t this story tell us a lot about our current “state of the art” in software engineering in these days?

    Thus I send best wishes to all the new and young software entrepreneurs – I admire your optimism against all odds.

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