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THE NORTHERN BLOG

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HOW TO BUILD A HAPPY COMPANY CULTURE
Startups have some of the best and most innovative ideas when it comes to company culture. A great company culture comes down to one thing: people. You define your values and mission, but ultimately, it's up to your team to live by them. And it starts with having a cohesive team in the first place, one that is willing to trade ideas, praise, and even lunch recommendations. We look at some of the cultures in some major companies around the world today. Here are some ideas you can pick from:

1. Integrate Culture and Mission
Company culture is a direct reflection of the brand, and workplace values should relate to the company mission. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done at startups, so focus on a work-life blend, not balance. Achieving this blend requires startups to focus on what’s most important to their brand and their culture. Make those values central to the company culture, the company should live and breathe them.

2. Celebrate Creativity.
A major part of employee satisfaction is recognizing and celebrating employee achievements. Creating a culture that celebrates success either big or small, boosts morale and keep employees motivated and engaged. Rewarding employee must always be about cash rewards, there a number of ideas or ways you can do that. At the end of the day, employee's happiness is equal to the companies success.

3. Exciting Rewards.
At the end of a long project, employees aren’t left with much. They move on to the next one with little fanfare. A culture that rewards employee based on performance during a project can always count on a happy staff. When employees know that, at the end of the month, their hard work will be rewarded. Small tokens of appreciation can be a big deal. It is always a good move to get employees excited about their own work and the overall accomplishments of the organization.

There are many other ways you can build a happy company culture. Putting people first is the sole secret when doing this. You can read our post How To Cultivate a Strong Team Spirit

 

JAMUJE TO HOST ITS FIRST ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION IN KANO

According to its website "Ja Muje is an evidence based, solution driven initiative aimed at the key factors affecting development in Northern Nigeria. With a focus on citizen led programs, Ja Muje will work on the ground with the most affected states in the region in synergizing efforts to create short term capacity building programs, and long term road maps that will consolidate efforts already in place, and also get the people to shape their communities towards sustainable development."

Among its program is the tweet chat (tweetathon) an innovative use of social media (Twitter) to discuss issues that concerns the region. Ja Muje have held several of this tweet chats which is usually a conversation between relevant parties on minotary problems in the North. One of such tweetathon was with The Bayero University students and lecturers. The topic discussed was about education policies in northern Nigeria. 

Ja Muje also hosts a quarterly Round-table having two participants each from key affected states based on the sector being addressed. The Round-table discussions brings together stakeholders from all tiers of that sector to present short term, achievable projects with a framework and action plan as to how it can be implemented. 

The first edition is to be held in Kano State with participants from some northern states including Sokoto, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kastina, Bauchi, Taraba, Yobe and Borno States. Startup Kano is the official tech partners for the event, they will be curating the tweet chat on that day. The program will identify problems and come up with solutions that will be acted upon immediately.  The round table is strictly by registration. The event is scheduled to hold as follows:

Date: 25th February, 2017.
Time: 10:00am Prompt
Venue: Kano Grand Central Hotel (Mubarak Hall)

Interested participants should register here

REGISTER FOR STARTUP CLASSES AND UPGRADE YOUR SKILLS

Startup Kano is organizing startup classes series a program designed to initiate participants into blogging, graphics design, content development, video blogging and digital marketing. The program is set to introduce tech enthusiasts into the real world in order to prepare them with both digital and entrepreneurial skills.

The classes are divided into Startup 101 and Startup X. Startup 101 is a free two weeks program and participants will get to work with the Startup Kano team for two months. While Startup X is a paid one month intensive training program to mold and develop participants by arming them with skills and tools that will make them compete with their counterparts all over the world.

This is an opportunity for young and aspiring entrepreneurs and techies to upgrade themselves with the latest skills and practices. Startup Kano have been championing the cause of entrepreneurship and self empowerment. They have role out several of these programs to help and build a better ecosystem for both tech and non-tech entrepreneurs.

The program is scheduled to start on 27th February, 2017. Interested participants should register here. The venue is at the Startup Kano Hub. For more information or inquiry visit www.startupkano.com.
Watch the video promos below.







HOW TO USE THE LEAN BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS

The business model canvas was born from the Lean Startup Methodology. It is like a blueprint of your business before or even after you've started your startup. The Lean Canvas is the perfect format for brainstorming possible business models, prioritizing where to start, and tracking ongoing learning. After identifying the problem you are trying to solve, and whether you have a product or you just have a prototype, you still need a business model. We will be going through the canvas and how you can apply it to your business. These are the key questions you must ask when using the model:

KEY PARTNERS: You need to identify your key partners, who are your key suppliers and what are the key resources or activities for acquiring them.

KEY ACTIVITIES: Identify also the key activities you will be doing to achieve your value proposition. Things like your distribution channel, your revenue streams and even your customer relationships should be taking care of at this stage.

KEY RESOURCES: At this stage you should be able to understand the key resources that your key activities will require. You should be able to identify this things as it will make it easier for you to carry out all these activities.

VALUE PROPOSITION: What value are you giving the customer. Which .of the customers problem are you solving. Things like how your minimum viable product affects them. This is more like the overall value the customer using your product or service will get.

CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP: Here you will also answer the questions of how to get, keep and grow your customers. Which customer relationship have you established. How are they related to the business model and how costly are they.

CHANNELS: Here you should specify through which channels do you want to reach your customer segment. How do other companies reach them now? Which of these methods works best and which is cost effective.

CUSTOMER SEGMENTS: Who are you creating value for? Who are you most important customers? Where can you find them? How can you reach them?

COST STRUCTURE: This is also an important part of the canvas where you will consider the most important costs in your business. The key resources  that are most expensive as well as your key activities.

REVENUE STREAMS: Finally you should decided for what value are your customers willing to pay? For what value do they currently pay? And what is the overall revenue model and what are the pricing tactics.


If you are having trouble building a business model for your startup, feel free to inbox us.

CODE PYRAMID WILL HAVE A HACKATHON THIS MONTH IN KANO

Code Pyramid is a platform for techies (software developers, website designers, graphics designers etc.) and entrepreneurs. They provide mentorship on development and professional coaching on presentation skills, public speaking, project management and training to members and also network, share ideas, opportunities and provide solutions to challenges faced by members and the society. 

Code Pyramid want to interact with existing organizations to build a tech ecosystem in the North by working with government, industry, schools, youth organizations etc. to identify challenges and problems they face and provide them with technology based solutions. They intend to achieve this by building a vibrant community of techies that will attend to these problems with creative and innovative mindset.

CODE PYRAMID WILL HAVE A HACKATHON THIS MONTH IN KANO


This month they will be having a hackathon focused on solving critical problems in the health sector. Winners will have a free co-working space courtesy of Startup Kano. This will give them enabling environment to turn their idea into a real working solutions and subsequently a business.

Interested participants should register here

Watch Video Promo Below:


STARTUP KANO TO LAUNCH AN APP FOR BAYERO UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Long gone are the days were fresh students have hard times getting familiar with the school environment, school rules and regulations and a bunch of other requirements. BUKGuide is an app with the sole purpose of simplifying campus experience for both new and returning students of Bayero University Kano.

Ahmad Bature, a co-developer who also designed the app UX and UI said, "It has not been easy for new students to have the real feel of the university setting (BUK), this app was born from problems over the years and it is here to solve it. We design the app out of passion for using the latest technology to solve problems and also out of compassion to assist students to navigate around with ease and explore the school environment". 

The app was developed by both an alumni and a final year student of the school. Some of the features on the app are the school history, faculties and principal officers. Voice it out is also a unique feature where you can type and it will voice out the words typed in. "This feature i believe will be modified and enhance communication among special education students" said Umar Auna a co-developer of the app.

BUKguide will be launched at Startup Kano Hub on the 20th of January, 2017. It is a low key event with some invited guest but will be streamed live. You can get the link for the live streaming on Startup Kano Instagram bio. The app will also be available on Google PlayStore and will be officially released during the launch.

BLUE HUB TO HOST YOUNG MINDS IDEATION GUIDE IN KANO

Blue Sapphires e-Solution is hosting an event aimed to help young minds ideate by enlightening them about the process of generating, developing, and evaluating ideas for launching innovative and viable new ventures. Ideation workshop entails a process of discovery designed to lead toward the creation of dynamic and impactful enterprises, whether business or social ventures.

At the event series of entrepreneurs, financiers, startup attorneys, marketing experts and others in the startup ecosystem will attend and networking door is open and they will teach best practices to early stage startup founders and those who would like to join an early stage startup.

BLUE HUB TO HOST YOUNG MINDS IDEATION GUIDE IN KANO


The event is open to people of all background and experiences, anyone that is interested in joining a new startup or looking for a co-founder, anyone who has an idea for a startup or an early-stage company and anyone who would like feedback on their idea or pitch. 

Attendees are going to understand the context of entrepreneurship and innovation and their significance in today’s economy and society, generate, develop and pitch innovative new venture ideas, evaluate the attractiveness and feasibility of new venture opportunities and analyze industries, markets, and competitors.

Some of the major partners for the event include Startup Kano, Code Pyramid, SP Quality Seeds, Sagad Farms and Young Innovators of Nigeria.

The event is scheduled to take place as follows:

Date: 28th January, 2017.
Time: 10:00am prompt.
Venue: No 231 Gandu GRA, ABH Street Sharada, Kano.

Interested participants should register here 

CULTIVATING A STRONG TEAM SPIRIT
It is clear that the technological ecosystem in the North is becoming friendly to Tech start-ups. We are at the "open arms" phase. The North is still an open and untouched segment of the country for every innovative start-up to explore. The above stated is easier said than done. Starting up a technology company in a system like this has its ups and downs. I will be talking about one of the major factors that determine the success of any tech startup comprising of a team. Team work.

Like it or not the Nigerian environment unconsciously disallows team work. The educational system, the social environment, the social media, and many more unknowingly disallows it. Looking back I can’t remember anytime I was deliberately taught the values of partnership. This little concept we fail to deliberately teach affects a lot of potential entrepreneurs, especially at the startup stage. This however is a damage that slowly creeps into our mindset, we don’t notice the damage till it’s done. This short story about Adamu illustrates how.

Adamu is a computer geek. He studied and lived in the Northern part of the country all his Life. Right from his primary to secondary school days, everything seemed to him like they will go right if he gets to do it alone. In school he was always given individual assignments, and whenever they were given a group project, he would be automatically made the group leader, and would be left to do it alone. The saying "too many cooks spoils the broth" sank into his head and his subconscious, so much that he thought the lone wolf was the smartest and most efficient wolf. He wouldn't let anyone see his code, let alone touch it. The trust issues in the country made it worse because he heard stories of how so many people were duped and taken advantage of in business. He has seen example of groups that split ways like musical groups for instance. He is a reserved introvert like some nerds are, and he feels since it’s "the North", people like him to share ideas with are rare and hard to find.

Finally Adamu decides he wants to start a company, he is inspired by people he thinks are "lone wolves" like him. Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, Aliko Dangote, Bill Gates, Elon Musk. He fails to understand that the success of these people at many points in their lives was not a product of their creative genius and hard work alone, but other ingredients like partnership, and team play.

He tries, only to find out that he needs help. He is bad at communicating properly, managing revenue, and relating with customers, so he learns the hard way. He gets an extroverted person for a team mate. Chinedu. They both share the same goal, but the route they prefer to take to reach the goal are different. There is a clash. Adamu thinks his team mate acts like those classmates he used to have in the group assignments. The team mate thinks Adamu is just being bossy because of his technical skills. No one listens to one another, there is a misunderstanding, and they are young people with no experience when it comes to working in a team. They become one big unproductive duo.

Getting the right team mate to strengthen your weakness is as difficult as getting the perfect life partner, sometimes you would just have to mould the effort of your team mate into something that compliments yours. This is a key team play technique. Sometimes it takes luck to find the right people to partner with. But once you get a team, together the possibilities are endless. Each team member fitting neatly into the puzzle. Let's outline a few tips that I'm sure would have helped Adamu and Chinedu.

Eliminate the lone wolf syndrome.  Understand that if you really want to achieve your entrepreneurial goals excellently in a system like this, you need good helping hands. 99.9% of the time this is true, 0.01% means your project is extremely concentrated on one activity, so you need no diversification. That's a small chance. You have to forget all you see on the media, look deeper and you will see the hands that helped. The reason why too many cooks spoil the broth is that they all have different pictures in their heads of what a good soup should be like.

Take time to understand your team members. This will help increase productivity and satisfaction in yourselves. Understand what your team member is comfortable with, his strengths, his weakness, the environment he is most productive in, and many other attributes. The idea is to get the most out of each other for maximum productivity. It will be of great help if everyone in the team works towards the aim, by understanding how each of their fellow members love to work. For instance i learned that some of my team members are more productive at night. So the efficient option was to give them the task to work on overnight, while we all give feedback during the day.

Be ready to sacrifice and leave your comfort zone. Appreciate when the same is done for you. People hardly want to leave their comfort zone for anything let alone another person. It's natural to feel it’s too much of a sacrifice to come early to the brainstorm workshop, write code when you don't want to, spend your pocket money on the startup. And this revolves around the fact that you think it wouldn't be noticed or appreciated. It sucks to come early when everyone else is late. You will seem like the over enthusiastic one. Over time you lose interest and you begin to point fingers. This is bad for any start-up team. Everyone must sacrifice visibly for the goal, and these sacrifices should be acknowledged and appreciated no matter how little. It boosts the team’s morale.

Be open to criticism, Share new ideas, and focus your criticism on the team’s growth, not on the person. Every action of a team player should be for the teams greater good. Nothing must compromise the growth of the team. But the growth of the team depends on the individual growth of the members, and one way to make your team grow is to constructively criticize each other, while appreciating your efforts. If you don’t do it, other people outside will. The only difference is, they wouldn’t care much about your team member’s feelings. it's awesome when everyone in the team wants to be better at what he does.

Treat Tribalism, Religious beliefs, Age, Sex, and Social status like it didn't exist. In Nigeria people allow these things to cloud their judgments daily. It is bad for any team. A perfect team is a diverse one. The team must share equal goals and zeal. And that is enough to make it work.

Communicate. Effective communication saves a lot of time spent on dealing with a misunderstanding. One team member must not assume another understands a concept when there is a possibility he doesn’t. Do more talking less working. Not less talking more working. This doesn’t mean the workspace should always be a noisy place. There is a right time for everything. This means if ideas, concepts, and tasks and communicated properly, there would be a decrease in errors and assumptions hence lesser working time. I'll say amongst all, the most important and common way to cultivate team spirit is to always believe in your team, and it’s potential. Getting the great team is not straight forward, but it's actually less complicated than working alone.

Author: Faruk Shuaib
Phone: 08148882058, 08176836670
Email: Farookshuaibu@gmail.com

AREAS YOU CAN BUILD A TECH STARTUP AROUND IN 2017

Out of the seven billion people in the world, more than four billion do not have internet. In Nigeria, the percentage is about 60%. What this means that there is still a lot of untapped opportunities and market for those who want to launch a tech startup. For me i believe its the best time to launch and send your product for customers to use and help you build better products. However, this suggestions should not just be based on opinion but facts, that is why we dug out some supporting insights to help you in making a decision on the areas to delve into. 
  • Machine learning shows the most immediate promise; it has the capacity to enhance a wide array of applications, particularly those involving classification, prediction, anomaly detection, and personalization.
  • Blockchain the foundation for the digital currency bitcoin. A distributed database of transaction blocks, blockchain allows participants in a network to share a digital ledger, yet prevents them from tampering with any of the transaction records.
  •  Digitization of the enterprise is also opening up whole new markets, creating ecosystems that often extend across multiple sectors. Connected and autonomous vehicles, e-medicine, fintech, e-tail, and smart cities are all enabled by connectivity, growth in storage and bandwidth, advances in cognitive technologies, and increasingly sophisticated data analytics. They are spawning a myriad of new products and services that will continue to excite and astonish us. The Internet of Things (IoT) has also only just begun to reveal its promise.
  • Cloud adoption and more “anything as a service” offerings that allow usage-based consumption are likely to emerge. This development will give small-to-medium sized enterprises access to sophisticated capabilities once only available to huge multinationals, increasing demand and creating a virtuous cycle for more products and services.
  •  Cyber Security products and services are another area with a bright future. 

  

HOW TO SEND BUSINESS EMAILS, www.thenortherner.com.ng

Most of us use emails every day, but what is acceptable in a Business email? What is the function and meaning of CC and BCC for recipients? How do you protect the contents of your email if it is commercially sensitive or you don’t want it altered? Email is probably the most prevalent, ubiquitous form of communication in many businesses today.

You can incorporate the advice given for each type of document in this article into an email. You will need to consider some additional issues such as formatting, font etc. It is not usual to securely sign emails and there is the chance the content can easily be altered electronically. Emails can be forwarded easily, and so issues of confidentiality of content, and recipients email addresses are important considerations with emails.

Digital Signature

It is possible to produce a digital signature and add it to emailed documents. However it is crucial that the access to the digital signature is protected carefully. A Digital signature is the digital equivalent of a handwritten signature or seal or stamp. It uses a digital code which is generated and authenticated by public key encryption. It can be added to documents which are electronically transmitted to authenticate their contents and the sender’s identity. Some countries including the USA, assign the same legal significance to such documents as they do to traditionally signed documents. 

Digital signatures are also known as Digital ID, or e-signature. There are many solutions that offer digital signatures, including Microsoft and Adobe. Search the internet for the terms Digital signature, Digital ID, and e-signature to get the latest information and most appropriate solution for you.

Choosing how to add email recipients

When you are composing an email, there are several ways of adding recipients. You can add them in the “To” field or select “CC “or “BCC”. What are the implications of selecting these different options? If you add them in the “to “field, recipients are visible to everyone, together with their email address. The same applies to people who receive a CC (courtesy copy). The reason you would select this option is because the person is not directly affected by the email, is not required to do anything, but out of courtesy you are advising them of the contents of the email. For example, if it concerns a member of their team, you may want to advise them that, for example, they are attending a meeting, have been included in a project, or are being asked to help or advice. So it is a way of efficiently making sure people are informed, but they understand it is for information only and they are not normally expected to do anything.
People who receive a BCC (blind courtesy copy) are not visible to others. This is useful if you are sending an email to many recipients who do not know each other and you do not want to disclose everyone’s email address to everyone else. Perhaps you are emailing a database of clients or prospective clients and you do not want their email addresses to be shared with each other. Or you may be emailing a list of candidates for a position, so you do not want them to know each other’s identities.
Protecting Your Documents
If it is important that a document cannot be altered, then you might want to consider some way of restricting and protecting the document which ensures you are the only person who can alter it and it cannot be tampered with. You can also do this by making it into a PDF attachment to your email, Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format used to present and exchange documents. It is widely used in business to share important business documents. You can also search the internet for PDF makers or converters.


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