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Wrath of a girlfriend helps developer win Sh1Million Appstar Challenge

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APPSTAR-CHALLENGE

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially if that woman is your girlfriend and you forget her birthday; There will be hell to pay. But one young Kenyan developer took the unforgettable lesson and turned it into an opportunity to the many people who need help with remembering important dates.

Bernard Mukangu developed Automs.gs, an SMS scheduler application that allows the automatic sending of personalized text messages on pre-scheduled dates to make sure users don’t forget those very important dates.

“The idea to come up with Automs.gs was born when I forgot to send my girlfriend a message to wish her a happy birthday and as a result she was very cross with me. From that day I purposed to develop an application that would ensure that I would never forget important events in the lives of those I care about both at a personal and professional level,” said Mukangu after being named the grand winner of the 2013 Appstar Challenge.

Mukangu beat seven other strong contenders from Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and India to take home the grand prize of USD 12,000 (A little over Sh1mn) and other prizes.

This is the second time a Kenyan is winning the award after two Kenyans won the inaugural competition last year.

The Appstar Challenge is a mobile apps competition organized by Safaricom and Vodafone and is designed to provide developers in emerging markets with a platform on through which to market their applications to a larger audience while at the same time affording them the opportunity to interact with developers from other countries.

“The best innovators are not people who create things because they are smart. Truly innovative people are those who try to find a way of addressing current unsolved problems, unmet needs and unresolved inadequacies in the societies they live in. They understand that every problem or challenge in the society is in fact an opportunity,” said Bob Collymore, CEO Safaricom Limited.

“Of course if you have a mind like Steve Jobs, you can recognize needs that people are not even aware that they have and work towards meeting those needs,” he added.

A total of 2,200 mobile apps developers registered for this year’s Appstar Challenge. 1,070 apps were developed out of which, the top 8 apps were selected following a rigorous mentorship and judging exercise. The finals in Nairobi featured 8 participants from India, South Africa, Tanzania and host Kenya.

“We came up with the Appstar Challenge because we wanted to create a platform for innovative people like you. We wanted you to showcase your talents by coming up with innovative solutions through mobile application development. When I heard that we had over one thousand applicants from four countries, I was filled with hope and extraordinary optimism. I knew we are doing something right and that we are all on the right track,” said Bernard Pratapa, Vodafone’s Vice President and Head of Business Solutions for Emerging Markets.

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