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Interview: UBL Creative hackathon winners share their experience and lessons

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UBL Creative Hackathon winners

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By Our Reporter

Uganda Breweries Limited recently held a competitive challenge bringing together young innovators and creative thinkers to collaborate to develop unique e-commerce solutions for a fast-paced business industry dubbed the Creative Hackathon.

Organized in partnership with House of DJ’s, it sought to address the need for e-commerce solutions accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Local” emerged winners of the hackathon, receiving a Ugx 10 million cash prize and a six-month mentorship with UBL.

We caught up with Geofrey Mutabazi, the team lead at Local for a chat.

1. What is “Local”?

Local is a localized direct to consumer e-commerce solution that is leveraging existing distributors to deliver UBL products to customers in residential areas. We intend to utilize electric micro mobility solutions like electric bicycles to reach and serve customers.

2. What inspired this innovation?

Uganda Breweries Limited has seen a 21% sales decline in the second half of 2020 mainly due to the Covid-19 related lockdown restrictions on opening bars and holding events (on trade) coupled with lower footfall in retail locations like supermarkets and retail shops(off trade) both of which are UBL’s major sales channels. We developed this solution to create a new channel to enable such companies to recover from this shock and provide an unmatched online shopping experience.

3. Tell us about the team behind “Local”

Our team is composed of but not limited to 3 Local Men including; Mutabazi Geofrey (Team Leader & CTO) – An entrepreneur at heart who believes that solving problems in Africa is the best path to improving livelihoods and growing economies.

Kashambo Xico (Operations Lead) – A detail oriented and highly efficient operations executive with deep knowledge of merging people and systems to deliver extraordinary results in record time.

Ashaba Keith (Marketing Lead) – With a wide experience in managing lifestyle companies in Uganda. Keith deeply understands the market and the forces in it.

4. What challenges have you faced thus far?

Challenges are part of any journey worth undertaking and we understand that these are part of any entrepreneurial endeavor, so we tend not to dwell much on them.

However, one challenge we are certain of and that will test our business is the huge demand for our service as soon as we launch. We believe we are solving a fundamental problem for our customers and the high demand forecasted is going to strain the very fabric of Local. To survive this, we would require a lot of strategic partnerships, brilliant and capable talent and most importantly, a lot of capital investment. We therefore call upon strategic partners to come build with us, talented individuals to join us and investors to invest in us.

5. What was the experience at the hackathon like for you?

Firstly, we would like to thank Uganda Breweries Limited(UBL) and House of Djs for organizing the creative hackathon and for all the amazing mentors who helped us along the way. The hackathon was intense and fast paced due to the limited time and the highly competitive teams. However, we had an amazing support structure around us in the form of the UBL staff that were present from start to finish helping us refine our idea and giving us context and advice from their industry experience.

We also strongly believe we had a much better solution to UBL’s challenge given the end to end architecture of Local. This was supplemented by our widely experienced and capable team with deep competencies in energy, logistics, finance and marketing.

6. What were your big lessons/learnings from the hackathon?

The hackathon taught us a lot of things and naming them all here would require an entire book but the most important lesson was about starting everything with building a capable and dedicated core team before you even think about the solution in detail. The team brought this win home, not the idea.

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