Students using Zaio – the UCT start-up that assists with building an information technology (IT) skills profile through coding – will experience a more streamlined offering now that the platform has adopted a fully automated way of doing business.
The Zaio platform was launched last year to help student developers gain practical experience and to help start-ups build affordable tech. It enables students to upskill themselves through a seamless journey consisting of multiple levels, and offers them help to build prototypes to contribute to their IT skills profile. Zaio’s ultimate aim is to help students find their dream jobs.
But co-founder Harjot Singh said that, until recently, a large amount of Zaio’s work was still performed offline and that “sorting developers’ information was a nightmare”. The platform needed an intervention, and so the fully automated system was developed and put into motion.
“Before the automation, the Zaio team facilitated meetings between start-ups and developer teams themselves,” he explained.
“But introducing our Minimal Viable Product (MVP) allowed us to automate sign-ups and test out further assumptions in our business model.”
Zaio has since partnered with UCTʼs School of IT and the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment to endorse projects completed through the platform as well suited for students in need of practical experience. Further, the start-up will partner with incubators in Cape Town and Gauteng where it plans to act as a tech provider for start-ups in those cohorts.
“The Zaio brand as it is today was revealed with a focus on cultivating young leaders who will drive the future of African tech innovation,” Singh said.
“The Zaio brand as it is today was revealed with a focus on cultivating young leaders who will drive the future of African tech innovation.”
The platform has grown rapidly, with records indicating that more than 800 unique users have registered and continue to make use of Zaio.
In the pipeline
Singh said the platform is expected to expand even further in the year ahead, with plans to roll it out to five other universities. As an additional part of its expansion project, the start-up is looking at signing up developer societies to ensure better engagement with its members, as well as to introduce the Zaio platform to candidates outside of tertiary institutions.
“We want to open it up to everyone and anyone to learn how to code and not limit it to only university students studying a computer-related degree,” he said.
The Zaio team comprises seven co-founders – Mvelo Hlophe, Thando Hlongwane, Mihlali Xozwa, Akhil Boddu, Ntuthuko Mpaku, Asif Hassam and Singh, who all have an interest in technology and entrepreneurship – plus two full-time employees and four interns.
The start-up was launched when Hlongwane realised that one of the biggest issues he faced was a lack of practical experience. Similarly, aspiring entrepreneur Mvelo found it difficult to prototype and create innovations because of the steep cost involved, which led to the pair deciding to collaborate.
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