The meQasa Journey: Before We Got on Forbes

admin | Monday, May 9th, 2016

 
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Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology was quite a fun experience for most of us. We got to meet so many inspiring characters and people, taking away a lot of learnings at the end of the two-year program.Here are a few gems from the experience us co-founders of meQasa, Ghana’s leading online real estate marketplace, learned and continue to apply:

1.Management: 
While at MEST, forming teams is an essential part of the training, and you are encouraged to diversify as often as possible. As such, by the end of the first year of the program, we had worked with just about every other brilliant member of our year group on one project or the other. This meant learning how to deal with several different personality, and ego types, and also learning how to deal with oneself in different stressful scenarios. This was quite essential for when graduates of the program built companies. They were better equipped and prepared to efficiently manage the different types of people that were talented enough to be employed to work with them.

2.Difficult conversations:
This is something most people do not realise is important until they start to feel the negative effects of not having them. MEST encourages open and honest feedback from Entrepreneurs in Training (EITs) and are sure to mention this from the first day of orientation. The class of 2013 (and other year groups, I’m sure) took this to heart and always made it clear when things were not satisfactory. We didn’t only do this with administration, but also among ourselves regarding work ethics, rejection of colleagues from joining teams, etc. All this was done constructively and with respect, and through this, we built a stronger bond of trust among ourselves and also appreciated the value of being open and honest with each other especially about the negative, so as not to have it perpetuate and cost everyone in the long run. This is a trait all Ghanaians need to cultivate, that way, we can keep businesses (and our leaders) sharp and delivering good quality in products and services.

3. Recruitment and Interviews:
Another key feature of the MEST program is the inclusion of EITs in the recruitment and hiring processes. In our second year at MEST we were in charge of sifting through CVs of prospective EITs and calling them to assess their suitability for the program. We also took part in the interviews for final acceptance into MEST and had chances for defending our reasons for accepting or rejecting candidates. Through this, we not only learned the processes involved but the enormous responsibility that comes with hiring new employees. Looking out for the right traits that will ensure a comfortable fit with the vision, mission and culture of the organisation they are looking to join and are interviewing for.

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4. Communication and presentation skills:
Not to brag, but it is always evident in Ghana when you attend a presentation by a MEST graduate. The attention to detail in the slides, the confident communication of the presenter, the organisation of points in just the right manner, the way you find yourself unconsciously agreeing with the points and appreciating fully the ones you disagree with. These are all but a few features of communication and presentation skills every EIT receives training in. By the end of the first month at MEST, every EIT should already have mastered the art of the “elevator pitch”. This allows you to think quickly and creatively to present your points in a quick easy-to-understand manner that will leave your audience very interested in knowing more. Investors don’t have a lot of time for a long boring presentation when you first meet them, so this is a good tool to use to get the conversation started. It doesn’t only apply to investors, however, it applies in just about any context, business or personal where you want to get another person or group of persons to buy into an idea you are passionate about.

5. Technical Skills:
The institution does not compromise on quality in all spheres of the intensive training program. The learning of technical skills is no exception! Using the 2013 year group as an example, we started out by learning basic programming concepts using a program called Alice, a tool developed at Carnegie Mellon by a group of researchers led by the late Randy Pausch. Once we had that down, we moved on to learning Java. The first was to give us a fun glimpse into the possibilities of learning to code. The second was to give us an understanding of actual code and how to build functional applications using that. Today running meQasa.com – an online housing search website and the easiest way to rent, buy and sell property in Ghana – which needs to function seamlessly 24/7/365, having superb technical know-how makes a huge difference in our success. . Learning the two in such a short space of time taught us what every programmer takes for granted: learn one language and you can easily learn the rest. Your imagination is the only limit to your creativity.

The lessons learned at MEST are too many to enumerate in one article. There are the lessons learned from the training received, those learned from the interactions with faculty and colleagues, those learned from the brilliant guest lecturers who are experts in their various fields, the results of all of which the world can clearly see in the day-to-day output of the awesome portfolio of companies the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology churns out year after year since 2009, not only from Ghana but recently, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa as well. The best of these lessons may have to be experienced to be fully appreciated. Don’t take my word for it, enroll today, and you’ll be well on your way to making that idea a reality and starting a globally successful enterprise!