Blog

4 Questions with MEST Tech Fellow Herman Martinus

Thea Sokolowski, Monday March 25th 2019

MEST Accra is thrilled to welcome South Africa’s Herman Martinus as a tech teaching fellow at the Training Program in HQ for a 3-month assignment. An experienced gaming and front end developer with an understanding of African markets, Herman will help to round out tech training for Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs) in the class of 2019.

Throughout our 1-year Training Program, MEST regularly welcomes industry experts from disciplines across software development, product, systems, finance, marketing, sales, public speaking and more for short-term units to help our EITs dive deeper in key areas related to building successful tech businesses. Along with support from full time business, tech and communications fellows, our EITs benefit from a variety of experienced mentors throughout their year in Accra.

We sat down with Herman to find out more about his background and motivation to join us at MEST!   

How did you get your start in tech?

I got my start in video game development. However, both of my parents were teaching technology before I was born. My grandfather was a high school math teacher, so that trickled down to myself and my little sister. Both of us last year started teaching tech.

I’m fond of rock climbing, longboarding, surfing, traveling. I’m fairly certain I was supposed to join the circus, but somehow I ended up in tech.

What ventures are you currently involved with?

I focus more on robotics, games and startups. I worked in video games for a few years and then decided I wanted to travel. I started working at a tech startup in Silicon Valley called GetMyBoat, which is currently the world's largest boat rental - essentially an "Airbnb for boats".

We have 130k boats in 184 countries. It’s a great remote working culture. I work with people in Russia, Iowa, Colorado, Cape Town, Ontario and more. It’s still just 7 developers, with the full team being under 30 people.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever built?

My skillset is in video games and interactive experiences, and front end web systems, but the coolest thing I ever built was a virtual reality flight simulator designed to teach commercial pilots how to fly. I traveled to Brazil with it to sell to Azul.

Right now I'm getting back to video game development but in an indy sense - small experiences that emphasize parts of play that are interesting, fun and exciting. A couple of friends and I started a collective of game developers called Warp Speed.

Why did you decide to come to MEST?

I feel it’s really important to change the way we teach technology. Tech education on a tertiary level is done very badly today. There’s a misconception that it’s an academic field when really it's a craft. Having a carpenter go to university sounds ridiculous. You don’t learn carpentry theory - you give a carpenter tools and let them spend time learning how to use them. Why isn’t tech treated the same way?

One of the big problems is the lack of incentive around getting involved in tech. Most people that are in the space tend to be there because they look up to individuals that have influenced them and gotten them into the space. If there are more people who are helping and incentivizing people get into tech, which right now is a lucrative field, there will be more tech people.

I discovered MEST because I just happened to be working from a co-working space in Cape Town called Cape Town Garage. After some travels, I came back and it had become the MEST Cape Town Incubator. Vo Jackson, Head of Community at MEST, told me about the MEST Training Program in Ghana, and it sounded like an adventure. So off I went. It’s been fantastic so far!

Interested in becoming a teaching fellow at the MEST Training Program? Reach out to recruitment@meltwater.org to learn more.