PCSE Seed Grants in Action: A Report from Kwaku Akoi ’14, CEO of JooMah

The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards annual seed grants to fund the launch or early stage growth of a Wesleyan-connected social enterprise, project, program, or venture. Each grant recipient reports back with blog posts and photos. Here’s the first report from JooMah, one of the three 2014 winners, written by CEO Kwaku Akoi ’14. You can read about JooMah and its staff here.

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joomah logoGrowing up, I always had only two wishes for my future career: to do work that impact lives but that also makes me very happy.

Then, I did not know exactly what form that vision will take but I am glad that my first job right out of college is fulfilling my wish from day to day.

Working at JooMah for the past year has been a thrill ride. I started JooMah last June in ‘The Third Shoe Box’ of Alpha Delt (anyone who’s lived at ADP will know what I am talking about). It was my second shot at commercial software development.

One year later, the team has grown from the initial three (myself, Geofrey Yatich and Brian Gitogo) to a brilliant group of fourteen passionate individuals (four of whom currently live in Ghana).

We now share office space with other startups at Bat Haus in Brooklyn (it is the coolest co-working space you can find in NYC. In addition to being incredibly affordable, Bat Haus has happy hour every Thursday) .

A typical day at JooMah’s NYC office starts around 10am and goes till about 7pm. We usually start the day with a quick product development meeting where we review the work done so far, test the platform and look for bugs in the code (which is something I greatly enjoy, to Max Dietz’s horror). We then have lunch at one of our favourite spots in Bushwick (some of the best food I have ever had!) and then head back to the office where we continue product development and also look at growth strategies. I usually spend the afternoon with Oladoyin and Yinka, growth hacking.

Right around 3pm, we head out for a coffee break where Max and Justin spend half the time discussing category theory and the other half talking about monads and co-monads (don’t worry what those terms mean , I am still trying to wrap my head around them).

After the coffee break, I usually get on the phone with the General Manager of JooMah Ghana to sound off some ideas and prepare for our launch (which is July 1 btw).

We call it a day sometime between 6:30pm and 7pm and then head out. Usually at about 11pm, just before I go to bed, I receive emails from Asana notifying me Max Dietz is writing more code (as if he did not spend an entire day doing that at the office)

To start my career exploring two of my biggest passions (software development and Africa’s development) is an honour and a privilege. And to do so with such a brilliant and fun team from Wes, makes the experience extra special.

To have the support of the Patricelli Center definitely and many other Wesleyan alumni has just been wonderful and has made the journey thus far smoother than it might have been.

So we launch on Tuesday in Accra, and then the work really takes off. Pushing the platform to Ghanaian job seekers and employers will not be an easy task but it is something we are very determined to do.

I will head off to Ghana later this summer to kick start work in our office in Accra with the team there, who are some of the most motivated and smartest people I know.

The potential for impact both in the short term and in the long term is immense. The opportunity for deep personal growth for each one of us involved has started to pay off. To build world-class machine learning algorithm brings with it a fair dose of intellectual focus and stimulation. To do all this for the sake of touching a life, and then two, and then a country, and then a continent, makes every minute spent sweating it out worth it.

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