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Launch Event: Windows 10 and Visual Studio 2015
Thursday, 06 August 2015 13:23

The month July 2015 marked two more great milestones in the history of Microsoft. First, on the 20th of July Visual Studio 2015 has been released and second, just a couple of days later on the 29th of July was the global launch of Windows 10. Both latest incarnations of world-wide known and used products coming from Redmond. Back at the begin of June I already got in touch with our local Technical Evangelist asking whether there might be any plans regarding those two activities. And the following weeks I bumped my questions here and there in order to see what's going on here on "Cyber Island". Finally, on the 21st of July I got an official invitation to attend the Windows 10 Launch:

Windows 10 official event invitation at Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands & French Pacific
Windows 10 official event invitation at Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands & French Pacific

No question whether to attend or not... 

Windows 10, Visual Studio 2015 and... Visual Studio Code

Yes, you read it correctly - Visual Studio Code, Microsoft's newly launched cross-platform text editor for quick and easy access to redefined code editing features. Surprisingly, Arnaud got in touch with me just some days prior to the event asking whether it would be suitable to actually do a presentation on Visual Studio Code - best running it on Linux, too. As I just wrote an article regarding an enhanced experience of using Code on Linux I agreed and all was set for the event to happen.

T - 30 minutes...

Even though it's officially after office hours and therefore after the usual rush hour in Port Louis, I didn't want to gamble on being late and left a bit earlier. Luckily, the short trip to the capital went smooth and it was quite fluid to drive, even in Port Louis itself. At approximately 18:00 hrs I finally arrived in front of Dias Pier Building at the Caudan Waterfront, and more or less bumped into fellow tweeter Cedric. Most interestingly it was the first time ever that we met "offline" but we recognised each other on the spot. Well, off to the Microsoft office then...

Some of the Microsoft Student Partners (MSP) were already around and it seemed that another technical session on C# development was still in full swing. Great, lots of geeks and familiar faces around. Next, I spoke to Arnaud and we checked the schedule of sessions for the evening quickly. Cool, my session on Visual Studio Code is going to be the sugar icing on top of a promising evening - last one! As there was still plenty of time we went to check the available equipment for the presentation, and the fun started. As I'm using an older HP laptop running on Xubuntu 15.04 with a VGA output only but the projector didn't want to accept this input source we had to look for alternatives in order to give the audience some first hand experience with this awesome editor. Well, using an USB-HDMI converter based on DisplayLink wasn't properly recognised by the kernel and I didn't want to go through some of the pain I had with an external USB display, I suggested that I'm going to run the demo on a virtualised environment on my main machine. Luckily, I still had a freshly installed Xubuntu 14.04 as an image. Based on my own step-by-step guide and after transferring some source code folders I was ready for prime-time.

Lots of professional networking and expert exchange during the Windows 10 event
Lots of professional networking and expert exchange during the Windows 10 event

Networking before, during and after the presentations

Honestly, it's always great to attend social events for software developers, eh craftsmen. Those unique opportunities to meet with other geeks in the field are undeniable and there should be more events like this throughout the year. Apart from getting introduced to new peeps and got quite a number of questions regarding the past and future Developers Conference. Surely, the event back in April was a great success and personally I'm very pleased with the outcome especially after a short preparation time of less than 4 months. Right now, there are already plans and small preparations in the pipe for 2016, more to come soon.

Also, please read the blog articles from other fellows attending:

They wrote a bit more about the details of the sessions of the evening. I'm going to spare you with that one... ;-)

Talking about Visual Studio Code

Well, it was more or less just a cameo session of roughly 20 minutes. Actually, I went quickly through the steps of acquiring Code from the official website, gave some details about the nature of the application. Code itself is written in TypeScript using web-based technologies which are then hosted in the cross-platform compatible Electron shell which runs on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux operating systems. Next, there were the steps from my guide, and after showing the shortcut entry in the main application menu it was time to fire up Code itself.

Showing source code of an AngularJS web app with controller and partial view next to each other in Visual Studio Code
Showing source code of an AngularJS web app with controller and partial view next to each other in Visual Studio Code

Thanks to the high quality even at this early stage of Code there were no surprises and I showed some features, like the usual syntax highlighting capabilities of a variety of programming languages, the builtin image and icon display, as well as the neat integration of git client. Using the AngularJS source code and the partial views in HTML of the website of the developers conference I also demo'd the split view feature of Code. Which is actually pretty handy to have controller and view source code next to each other while developing your web sites or web applications.

And last but not least, I switched virtual desktop and showed the last two, three features in Visual Studio Code on Windows, too. Just to demonstrate that the UI and user experience is identical between operating systems. Code is surely a great tool for mixed teams of software and web developers. Eventually, you might also have a look at the options to customise your key bindings - just to make it more comfortable to your personal taste.


After the launch event of Windows 8 back in October 2012 where I met Arnaud Meslier first time there had been some great development in terms of ICT here in Mauritius. Apart from the activities of the Linux User Group of Mauritius (LUGM) and the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community (MSCC) there are more and more opportunities for like-minded people to meet and exchange offline. Apart from the introduction of great products and tools this evening, it was a pleasure for me to have a wide range of chats with other geeks.

Thanks, and the next event is hopefully staged already... ;-)

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Preparations for Developers Conference 2015
User Rating:★☆☆☆☆ / 34
Friday, 20 February 2015 11:18

The First of its Kind in Mauritius

Developers Conference 2015 is the first event in Mauritius, maybe even in the Indian Ocean which is organised as a "classic" conference. Yes, there have been various vendor-specific bootcamps in the past but never anything like this.

"From craftsmen - For craftsmen"

This year's conference is first time organised by the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community (MSCC) in partnership with a number of local and international companies. Although the MSCC was founded back in 2013 it quickly became clear that our tropical island has a certain lack of informational and technical events. During some monthly meetups we spoke about this situation and that it would be very interesting and delightful to organise such an event.

Also, the monthly meetings of the MSCC are usually topic-centered and most amazingly we had solid technical information and good presenters - even though none is a professional trainer - during the last couple of month. The Developers Conference is just the consequent development of this process - our thirst for more information in the world of modern IT.

Mauritius has been branded "Cyber Island" in the Indian Ocean... Opinions in those matters vary but with this conference we strive to improve the general attribution of our island. Mauritius has great political stability and economical advantages for foreign investors, and the most precious resource Mauritius has to offer is people's knowledge.
The ICT sector in Mauritius is growing since years and maturing as the fourth pillar of our economy. With its geographical position Mauritius is also welcome as a business and knowledge hub between Africa and Asia.

Welcome to the first ever Developers Conference in Mauritius!

Extras & Specialties - It's not all about sessions

Apart from the technical sessions and presentations during the day the conference is going to be complemented with additional activities of different types. Our venues provide lots of space for some extra fun...

Stroll around and get some inspiration from our side activities. Socialise with other attendees offline and seize the opportunity to get some ideas for DIY projects from others.

Global Azure Bootcamp Again!

In April of 2013 we held the first Global Windows Azure Bootcamp at more than 90 locations around the globe! In March 2014 we topped that with 136 locations!

This year we are again doing a one day deep dive class to help thousands of people get up to speed on developing Cloud Computing Applications for Azure.

In addition to this great learning opportunity we will have another set of hands on labs.

Hack-a-thon - Programming is a lifestyle

Tired of listening and talking? Let the source code fly!

The Developers Conference is a great chance to show your programming skills. Team up with other developers and solve a variety of challenging tasks. There will be different categories of competitions and we will organise different prices for the winners and runner-ups.

A hack-a-thon is not only fun but also a solid way to put your skills on the table. Be part of it...

Touch-typing Contest - Show us your keyboard skills

Working with computers is bound to typing your source code, specifications or any kind of documentation via keyboard since decades. New alternatives like speech recognition are still in their early phase of development and practical use. Which leads us ultimately to the following questions:

Do you know about touch-typing or speedtyping? How good are your skills?

Show us and other participants your impressive speedtyping skills and compete among each other in various competitions and races. The typing speed is usually measured in words-per-minute (WPM), and a word is standardized to five characters or keystrokes.

Ubuntu 15.04 - Celebrating Vivid Vervet

The next version of Ubuntu is highly anticipated with its continuous development towards an unified user experience on the desktop, on the server, in the cloud, or on the mobile platform. Welcome the Internet of Things (IoT).

Mark Shuttleworth introduced the new version Ubuntu and its foray into the mobile space some months back:

"This is a time when every electronic thing can be an Internet thing, and that’s a chance for us to bring our platform, with its security and its long term support, to a vast and important field. In a world where almost any device can be smart, and also subverted, our shared efforts to make trusted and trustworthy systems might find fertile ground."

Bring your laptop or USB pendrives to receive a copy of the latest incarnation of Ubuntu, and step into a world of open source.

DIY projects - Raspberry Pi, Arduino, any...

You are more of a hardware geek? You like to pull up your sleeves and get cracking with single-board computers (SBC) like the Raspberry Pi, the Arduino, or other models? Then the maker space will be the right place to demo your Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects to the rest of the audience.

Learn the latest trends about small hardware projects and get some inspiration from others.

Networking - Communication and exchange with others

Communication with your environment is an essential part of everyone's life. And it doesn't matter whether you are actually living in a rural area in the middle of nowhere, within the pulsating heart of a big city, or in my case on a wonderful island in the Indian Ocean. The ability to exchange your thoughts, your experience and your worries with another person helps you to get different points of view and new ideas on how to resolve an issue you might be confronted with.

Take the chance to exchange with other attendees in the reception area or on the balcony. Have some interesting conversations about software development, latest information gained during one of the presentations and let others know about your ups & downs in your projects.

Also, join the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community and be part of the local IT community.

The MSCC is a community for those who care and are proud of what they do. For those developers, regardless how experienced they are, who want to improve and master their craft.

It is a community for those who believe that being average is just not good enough.

Join the community and stay informed.

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Introduction to Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 10:19

Whether you are working in the field of Internet Technology (IT) since a long time or you just started your studies in Computer Science recently, at some point in time you might have the urge to meet and exchange with other like-minded people. Communities and user groups are surely the way to go and most likely there is an active user group already not far from you. Although user groups are not new concepts it was a bit surprising for me that discover the lack of an active community here in Mauritius - I mean active ones. According to some search queries on Google you can easily find relicts of previously existing user groups; but unfortunately most of them aren't active anymore.

While having a closer look at the search results and with the experience I gained during earlier years as a member of various communities and even being responsible to organise monthly meetings for more than two years, I finally decided that Mauritius should have a vital and thriving IT community again. No offense towards the other existing ones but as said, they were either long forgotten and abandonded or acted very dormant in some remote corner of the island. Anyway, back in May 2013 I started to organise myself a little bit and officially announced the existence of the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community, or short: MSCC, on various social media channels.

What is the MSCC?

Let me quote the official "About Us" statement from our official site:

"This is a community for those who care and are proud of what they do. For those developers, regardless how experienced they are, who want to improve and master their craft.

This is a community for those who believe that being average is just not good enough."

A simply mission statement. The MSCC is technology-agnostic community and spans an umbrella over any kind of technology. Simply because you can't ignore other technologies anymore in a connected IT world as we have. A front-end developer for iOS applications should have the chance to connect with a Python back-end coder and eventually with a DBA for MySQL or PostgreSQL and exchange their experience. Furthermore, I'm a huge fan of cross-platform development, and it is very pleasant to have pure Web developers - with all that HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript and JS libraries stuff - and passionate C# or Java coders at the same table. This diversity of knowledge can assist and boost your personal situation. And last but not least, there are projects and open positions 'flying' around... People might like to hear others opinion about an employer or get new impulses on how to tackle down an issue at their workspace, etc. This is about community. And that's how I see the MSCC in general - free of any limitations be it by programming language or technology.

Having the chance to exchange experience and to discuss certain aspects of technology saves you time and money, and it's a pleasure to enjoy. Compared to dusty books and remote online resources. It's about humans!

Elements of a successful community

Within less than 1.5 years the number of registered craftsmen in our community reached 200+ members. The MSCC is now the largest IT community in Mauritius, maybe even in the region of Indian Ocean but there are have been a couple of techniques to make this happen. Following I would like to describe some key indicators that helped to thrive this user group. Of course, the list is not complete and they are surely more aspects in play to achieve this goal; at least it might be some starting point for others.

Regular dates, easy accessible locations (and stick to it)

Trust me, especially at the beginning it might be frustrating and discouraging. The first two or three meetups, I was sitting on my own at a local bistro and couldn't talk to anyone else about my current struggles in coding or about discussing some vital ideas with someone else. Be persistent! It takes time that other people in your area take note and they also have to see whether they can arrange their schedule to come and visit. The MSCC has currently two schedules:

  • The weekly Code & Coffee session every Wednesday morning
  • The monthly topic during the last Saturday of a month

Of course, you don't to have to stick to this one but at least focus on regular, easy to remember dates, ie. third Monday evening, or similar.

Organise topic-specific events and give away SWAG

During the weekly meetings we usually exchange about recent news in the IT scene, talk about various ideas and technologies and sometimes put our heads together to work out an issue a craftsmen brought on that day. Personally, I'm enjoying the time out of office, and for a good number of times I got great hints from others and was able to improve my daily routine and productivity. You would be surprised about how much a short personal chat with someone else could help you to get better on your job.

Our monthly meetups are usually centered around a specific topic, and most of the time it is other community members that share there experience in a certain field with all the other attendees. Usually, we choose two sessions of approximately 45 to 60 minutes and then have a nice Q & A session afterwa

Active contribution to social media channels

Creating awareness of the community and keeping an open communication channels for announcements and exchange between members is very important. The MSCC is present on all major social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. In case that this might take too much of time, there are multiple tools on the market that allow simultaneous posting to all of those platforms. Your user group members have different taste and preferences, so don't miss the chance to be present for all of them.

Engage with members and ask for assistance

An IT community is about latest news in technology, IT-related promotions and other cool things that are worth sharing and discussing. Again be persistent and post interesting information through the social media platforms, retweet, share postings and be an attractive source for your members. Even though there are endless numbers of news publications don't be afraid to collect some good ones and redistribute them through the user group.

In general, it might be also interesting to engage some selected group members to assist you. Especially, about publication of news and promotional offers. Engage, encourage, share the load and have great fun together.

Also, in terms of work related scenarios it's great to have some vital communication among user group attendees. The number of project offers, requests for some freelancing work and consulting activities has constantly increased between our members. The networking sessions during our monthly meetups are highly appreciated by the MSCC craftsmen as they offer the chance to get in touch with skilled people. Someone might be looking for a job while another attendee is desperately looking for talent to fill an open position.

Work together with other communities

Do not distinguish or isolate yourself from other IT communities. No, quite the opposite: Embrace their activities, learn from each and other maybe even organise common events. Despite the short period of existence of the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community there are positive connections to several other user groups here in Mauritius. Most interestingly, the MSCC acted somehow as a catalyst or igniter for them. Back in 2013 the local Linux user group - LUGM - was kind of dormant with very low profile and irregular get-togethers. A bit inspired by the our communities activities the LUGM experienced a wave of new motivation. There have been several Linuxfest events since then, and future events are planned together. Another example is the newly founded chapter of Startup Grind in Mauritius. The founder is one of the MSCC craftsmen with great ideas and ambitions in the field of entrepreneurship. You see, communication and networking are essential to keep an IT community like the MSCC prospering.

Your future looks bright

Running and participating in a user group or any kind of community usually provides quite a number of advantages for anyone. On the one side it is very joyful for me to organise appointments and get in touch with people that might be interested to present a little demo of their projects or their recent problems they had to tackle down, and on the other side there are lots of companies that have various support programs or sponsorship especially tailored for user groups. Don't be shy! Contact them and ask for gimmicks that you could hand out in small contests or raffles during one of the upcoming meetings. Usually those companies provide all kind of goodies, books free of charge, or sometimes even licenses for communities.

Meeting other software developers or IT guys also opens up your point of view on the local market and there might be interesting projects or job offers available, too. A community like the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community is great for freelancers, self-employed, students and of course employees. Meetings will be organised on a regular basis, and I'm open to all kind of suggestions from you.

Please leave a comment and join the conversations on social networks.

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MSCC: Shellshock Survival Guide
Monday, 27 October 2014 12:11

Logo of the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship CommunityThe media coverage related to vulnerabilities in Linux has been quite immense lately.

After Heartbleed during the early months of 2014, we had a second major wave of problems based on a very old "feature" in the commonly used bash - Bourne Again Shell - on Linux- and BSD-based systems including Mac OS X. Well, there has been quite some activities and controversial discussion around this feature but it was obvious that it could be exploited and therefore a fix had to be done. Taking into consideration that there are literally millions of systems connected on the internet which are based on a Linux or BSD system, this obviously isn't a quick and easy task to improve.

This month's meetup was organised in a joint-venture between the MSCC, the LUGM, the UoM CC and we settled down at the University of Mauritius. Thanks to the organisers and it was again a great experience to be on the campus of Mauritius.

Shellshock: Survival Guide

The event was originally created on Facebook, and at the MSCC we simply picked it in order to attract more people for the meeting. Well, despite the hundreds of "Event Go'ers" on Facebook we were roughly 24 people that came together. The provided room 1.14 was big enough for everyone, and eventually we might be able to use this space on a regular base.. to be confirmed. ;-)

My point of view

Well... it's best to simply voice it out:

"Despite the technical background of Shellshock there was simply too much distraction and too many discussions going on during the meeting. I found it kind of chaotic and non-informative...

Somehow I expected a bit more regarding immediate corrections, advice on how to write better scripts and eventually something related to hardening an OS regarding bash, scripting languages and user-space applications on various Linux distributions, and Mac OS X."

Quite frankly, I was kind of disappointed by the lack of practical guidance. I mean... "survival guide" would implicate that you'll learn something to take home or back to the office, and to apply to your web server or office systems, or that you could integrate in your coding efforts in order to improve your skills and to reduce the risk of a system exploitation, don't you agree?

Actually, I thought about my statement for some time, but it didn't come out better than this. Yes, I learned about the implications why shellshock is dangerous and that there are patched versions of all major distributions available but apart from that.... I didn't learn anything new in order to be better aware of such situation or to avoid it completely.

MSCC meetup: Discussion about the bash shellshock vulnerability and practical advice to secure your systems.
MSCC meetup: Discussion about the bash shellshock vulnerability and practical advice to secure your systems.

Reactions of other attendees

Some other bloggers already put their thoughts online... 

Both very informative regarding the events as they happened but same like own observation there's clearly a lack of guidance after all.

Upcoming Events and networking

We are closing in on year's end and the advertisement for End of Year party venues is increasing. Well' at the MSCC we are already planning our second Christmas activities, too. What are the upcoming events here in Mauritius? So far, we have the following ones (incomplete list as usual) in chronological order:

Hopefully, there will be more announcements during the next couple of weeks and months. If you know about any other event, like a bootcamp, a code challenge or hackathon here in Mauritius, please drop me a note in the comment section below this article. Thanks!

My resume of the day

Discussed, dusted and off to new discoveries!

This month's event was interesting and although there was no actual "survival guide" it is good to see that the awareness in Mauritian IT is growing, especially among students. Nowadays, you can't effort to put on blinders and pretend that your operating system is all safe and secure. It's your continuous responsibility to follow security advisory bulletins and to improve your skills in IT - and it doesn't matter whether you're a system administrator, a software developer, or a passionate web developer. With the increasing amount of Internet of Things (IoT) security, safety and privacy is an ongoing process. Don't just kick back and relax, the next big bang is lurking around the corner - for sure... ;-)

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MSCC: Entrepreneurship and start-up culture (in Mauritius)
User Rating:★★★☆☆ / 10
Sunday, 31 August 2014 08:51

Logo of the Mauritius Software Craftsmanship CommunityAfter skipping a monthly meetup back in July it was highly anticipated that we are going to get together again during August. And wow, what an experience it has been... Not only the event itself but also the week before, and topics and conversations during the meeting, and the first responses and comments these days. But let's start from the beginning and let me directly announce this: New Record!

Yes, we did it once more again, and topped the previous number of attendees. Prior to the meetup we already had 29 member and 3 guest registration, and yesterday we had about 35 IT-loving craftsmen literally cramped into both meeting rooms at the Ebene Accelerator - Thanks again!

Quite frankly, it was packed early, and new arrivals were still coming. Awesome!

Meetup announcement: Entrepreneurship and start-up culture (in Mauritius)

Having the idea of starting your business is always a great opportunity. And with the right concepts, perseverance and consistency of doing things, you will likely be successful. But the path to success is full of obstacles and problems to be solved. Just too often it happens that young people fail in their persuade to glory due to small issues not thought about or misleading information.

This month's meetup is about the experience of existing start-ups and recent entrepreneurs here on the island. We are going to have a group of people to report about their journey, to share their knowledge, and to exchange about some nasty issues that might arise on your way to run your own business.

Everyone is largely invited to join our community meetup, and get some inspiration, some answers, and maybe also great ideas for new business opportunities on the way.

Our guest speakers in order of appearance:

As you can see, the meeting was put up with a high emphasis on real world experience and sharing of knowledge. Something surely to talk about and discuss in a room.

My first thoughts...

Alright, let me quickly note down my first impression of our get-together and then guide you through some of the details:

"It was a very interesting monthly meetup and lots of information, different opinions and serious business advice. It was great to see the variety of obstacles faced and managed...

And thanks to our mixture of speakers from Mauritius, Switzerland, India, and indirectly from France and Germany at least I had a good insight on various topics, attitudes and recommendations.

Looking forward to a follow up on this topic in the near future... Maybe as an Happy Hour at another premise. ;-)"

Truly, it was a great experience to have this kind of variety in terms of business experience and opinions. I got a lot of new input for my own business at IOS Indian Ocean Software Ltd. and some great advice to follow up during the next couple of weeks.

Reactions of other attendees

As usual, I'd like to give you feedback from other craftsmen first:

"Oh it was very inspiring, learned new Awesome stuffs and enjoy a lot to discover new opportunities, tips and tricks and most of all I got to increase my networking with new guys with crazy horizon :)" -- Shamsher on event comments

"Great session - I loved the different perspectives presented today." -- Dan on event comments

"This community is doing some Great stuffs and I recommend to any developer to check them out. You have everything to gain from it, nothing to lose I was so focused on the presentations that I just couldn't take more pics" -- Kevin on Facebook

"They [Vincent and Louis] stressed on the facilities provided by Ebène Accelerator and how it was relatively easy to set up a business in Mauritius. As at date they have a lot of Mauritian customers and shared tips that should be useful to those wishing to have their startup at the incubator." -- Ish on Talks on Entrepreneurship

"Absolutely awesome guys, very interesting to hear all those opportunities & challenges facing startups in Mauritius." -- Parvez on event comments

Overall, I’m glad I attended the session. Clearly, the MSCC is gaining traction! I’ve never seen that conference room so full. Soon, we’ll need a new venue. I’ll be inviting some of my colleagues to more of these sessions later on. I highly recommend them. -- Sean on MSCC: Talks on Entrepreneurship

Getting such an early (and spontaneous) feedback from our members is just great, and tells me that we really hit a nerve here on the island. The Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community is steadily growing and until today we have more than 180 registered people. Hopefully, we will be able to cross the 200 before the end of the year.

Aspects of entrepreneurship (by experience)

Dear reader, the following bullet points are related to the conversations and exchange we had during our meeting and are purely based on subjective experience of each and everyone. I'm trying to sum up some of the more relevant aspects of our various conversations and Q&A sessions. So, please don't take all of this for granted and evaluate some statements clearly as opinions, eventually as some guidance. Now, let the fun begin...

Gain some experience as an employee first

Through out the bench of guest speakers all of them started as an employee. Except myself, I had to learn it the hard way and went into employment after one year of miserable results in my first company. In general, it is clearly advised by each and every one sharing their experience as a business owner that should get into business as an employee first. See how the real world of labour is ticking, take notes and learn from others experience. Yes, you might argue that it's faster to jump into the pond to learn how to swim but you know there have been cases where people simply drowned.

Of course, you should be selective regarding your first job(s) and take care that you're not working for some miserable low salary but your focus should be learning about customer facing situation, how to deal with contracts and learn about negotiations with your superiors or during meetings with clients.

If you have a look at the big shots of our time, a huge number of founders, CEOs, and managing positions were employees for a couple of years in the first place. In most cases their own business spun off with an idea left unsatisfied by their employer. And that's something you should take into consideration.

A problem to be solved...

As just mentioned, a lot of company founders develop a business idea based on an existing, real-world problem which hasn't been addressed by anyone else before (or in a very poor, unsatisfying way). This is even more important to recognise when you're about to develop your business around a product or services compared to freelancing. More about that below.

As you might start to work as an employee always keep your eyes open for existing problems. Take customer complains or requests as a source of opportunity. Always remember the following proverb:

One man's trash is another man's treasure

Discovering, exploiting and solving a problem is much likely a permission to print money. Pay attention to what people are saying regarding their problems and surely you'll find a bunch of ideas and business opportunities.

Communication, communication, and... communication

As a business owner you have to be customer facing and somehow outgoing. If you're an introvert person, please think twice if that's what you're after.

Communication I - You should have the ability to converse with your clients and leads regarding the services and products you're offering in your company. As for speaking to leads you have to be focus on the pitch and be spot-on right about the terms you use. This also depends on the type of audience you're addressing but usually it involves to leave the tech-talk in the lowest drawer at home. Know and learn how to speak business and seize all kind of opportunities to get in touch with people. Keep your perseverance and don't get discouraged on denials. Always keep the conversation on a professional level.

Communication II - Have regular meetings with your partners and team members. It's not about checking on them but to get yourself into the right spot to understand their ideas, perspective and concerns regarding the business in general or specific products. Remember, your own ideas always appear brilliant to yourself but get them validated by others and listen to their feedback. Develop the ability to handle criticism in a positive way because if something has been voiced out there's always a reason to do so, and your own experience is obviously limited to yourself, so take advantage from other people's input and use it as an opportunity to learn, to improve, and to provide a better solution than what you're offering right now.

Communication III - Proper choice of media. Although, it wasn't explicitly mentioned I'd like to add this based on my own way of communicating with my peers, and on recent conversations I had with a good number of contacts in my professional network. Give yourself a guideline regarding your choice and preferred type of communication. Most of the time it should be in a written manner like email or instant messaging, especially when dealing with clients. But sometimes, there are occasions when it is more appropriate to actually pick up the phone (or any voice-based solution) and have a decent one-to-one conversation.

And last but not least keep in touch with your clients irregularly. It's always great to show your appreciation for their business and that you're actually caring about them. And you never know, knocking at someone's door just to say "Hello" might give you opportunities and generate new business, too.

Lone warrior or team player?

Well, on this aspect we had clearly two parties and opinions...

Personally, I'd recommend to team up with someone you trust and can rely one, but the arguments regarding souvereignty and decision making processes puts some weight on the other side of the equation. Frankly, I'd say this is a very personal decision as it is hard to find the right people to go into business with, especially while founding a start-up and you need to know whether the relationship will make it or break it during tough times, too.

As an entrepreneur you'll have to go extra-miles without any doubts, and you ask yourself whether you have the perseverance to push through it on your own or whether you prefer to have a professional business partner at your side who might be able to literally kick your ass to keep things moving forward. Of course, it's not an easy decision but having a look at some of the most successful companies nowadays might give you a hint (or not) ;-) - Talking about Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, Amazon, Microsoft, etc.

Get experts on board (from the very beginning)

Despite your initial decision whether you're going to start your business on your own or to team up with another co-founder you should always take care to get a professional from the accounting department and another expert in the legal department into your company. There are a variety of ways on how to achieve that. And quite frankly it doesn't matter how to get them on board but don't proceed without those two essential knowledge assets.

In terms of priority you should get an accountant first, legal support might come into business on its own. But more on that below.

Freelancing / services or product oriented business?

Whether you are about to start freelancing and offering your resource and knowledge to other people or you're going to develop a set of professional services or products doesn't really matter in terms of starting your own business as long as you're about to solve an existing problem of others. During the various stints of our speakers it was mentioned multiple times that a business is more likely to be focused on a specific field of operations.

Some were addressed by friend or another business owner whether it would be possible to help to improve their workflows with some software to be written, or to spice up someone's online marketing with a newly designed and developed web site, or by providing a shopping experience here on the island. Clearly, there was always a very specific problem that ignited a business idea and then developed into a solution to that.

But you should also take into consideration that your choice of business model has different aspects of revenue. If you're more likely to operate on a freelancing mode you have to take care of acquisition of new clients on a regular base. Meaning you going to spend to good number of hours per day, per week, per month to look out for potential projects and business opportunities. Not only does this reduce your productive time (meaning chargeable to the client) but it might be cumbersome doing it all over again and over a long period of time. Yes, you might start your business based on an initial project or assignment but bear in mind that this assignment is going to be completed and done one day. It's in your responsibility to monitor the market for new projects and keep up a continuous flow of income. If you're more likely to provide a product-oriented solution you might have to face a initiation phase without being able to generate any kind of revenues. Since a couple months (or even years) there is a growing movement towards crowd-founding such product-based solutions.

Getting more money into the business - Do's and Don'ts

Be truthful, financial aid for your business is always welcoming and it will give you peace of mind. Knowing that there are enough funds on the bank account allows you to focus on your work or product(s), and nurtures your curiousity to delve deeper in some fields of business or technology. Without any source of regular income or proper funding it won't be "fun" to start your business but let's not forget that some great businesses where literally build on nothing.

Okay, let's see what should take into consideration for your business. During the meeting we came across a variety of potential solutions - partly contradictory to each other and served with different levels of experience - positive as well as negative ones.

One argument somehow stood out clearly compared to others: Don't ask your (or any) bank for money.

Although the procedures of writing your business plan, summing up the figures, your estimations on expenses and your predictive forecast on the revenues during the first, second and follow-ups isn't a bad exercise after it remains most commonly an exercise while dealing with the board committees at the bank. Don't get me wrong on this here, yes write a business plan but don't take it to a bank. They literally won't be able to grasp your business idea(s): "They simply don't get it."

Dealing with your bank is inevitable and you clearly should stay in good terms with your account executive but don't put yourself into the hassle and headache of providing them with the details of your business. Competition is everywhere and unfortunately there have been cases of "flattery" here on the island.

What else has been mentioned? Well, some reported of good experience with the local Mauritius Business Growth Scheme (MBGS), about the positive effects of inviting Angel Investors into your business concepts and last but least the collaboration with Venture Capital providers. As for Mauritius, the last two options might be a little bit tricky at the moment but I'm aware that there is a growing interest of foreign investors, especially coming from the U.S.A., in jump-starting or assisting young entrepreneurs.

And the other side there are also options to improve your management of expenses as the Mauritian government has public bodies and institutions in place which can clearly be useful in order to grow your business. One opportunity is related to the Youth Employment Programme (YEP) which has a database of potential employees for your business. Another way is to get in touch with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development in Port Louis.

So, despite common understanding that there is hardly any support by the local government our meetup was an eye-opener for a good number of attendees, including myself. For sure, I'll register my business with YEP, and I'm going to propose one or two open positions before the end of the year.

The importance of a proper cash flow

ALWAYS take care of your income, payment, royalties or whatever source of money for your business first. Your company doesn't operate on love and good promises from your clients but hard cash only. Send out a signal to your clients that you're serious about business and you're a professional company owner. Don't get into any compromises regarding payment from your clients. If it's about new work ask for a certain percentage of down-payment upfront (50% of the total seems to be a common and agreeable condition). Be clear about the payment conditions on your invoices and chase your client immediately when you have suspicions regarding their liquidity.

Remember, you have monthly obligations to fulfill and your business relies on a proper cash-flow and in-time payments from your clients. Some of the speakers could report that businesses went into bankruptcy only due to outstanding payments by their clients. Don't let this happen to you, and get your accounting and legal department cracking on the nuts and bolts of your contracts as well as the proper handling of your reminder system.

Also, if possible (depending on the country) see whether you can run a background on your leads prior to get into business with them. Here in Mauritius companies have to file their annual business reports publicly to the registrar of companies. Once again, leave this kind of work to your professionals in the accounting department.

Hire slow and the right people

As mentioned above regarding communication it is very essential and vital for your young business to work with the right people on the team. Whether it is with contracted experts like an accountant or a lawyer it is also important to put a high emphasis on your hiring process of UI designers, software developers, or product workers. Having people on the team which are not in the spirit of working in an agile environment of a start-up, or entertaining a so-called "social welfare case" doesn't help to prosper your business. Aux contraire, it's going to slow you down immensely.

Pay attention and put some energy into your hiring process, it won't hurt you at all but provide you the right talent for your company. There are great examples available on the world-wide web for free but I'd like you to read the following blog article "How to hire a lot of talented people, very quickly" of Ryan Carson, CEO of Treehouse, explicitly. It was inspiring for me and I set up a similar process using Trello, too.

Yes, you should hire more people but in a steady way, always in regard to your business revenues, and only stock up your staff with people you're sure they can live up to aims of your business.

Networking - the offline way

Honestly, I can't remember how often we talk about the importance of growing and entertaining a professional network - both online using platforms like LinkedIn or Xing as well as offline by attending any kind of organised events related to business owners. While running a business you have to get the word out that you are actually operational, and of course you have to let people know about the kind of professional services or products you are offering. This is related to self-marketing and you should practice so-called "elevator pitches" prior to going out.

Ask yourself:

  • Would you be able to describe and summarize your business in less than 5 seconds?
  • Are you able to your profile into one paragraph of 2 to 3 sentences?
  • What are the outstanding benefits your business could offer compared to your competition?

If you cannot answer those questions, you should reflect on them and get in better shape for your next get-together with other business people.

Some visual impressions

Pictures are courtesy of Pritiv and Kevin.

MSCC: Sharing my experience on founding and running a start-up. There have been ups and downs throughout the years
MSCC: Sharing my experience on founding and running a start-up. There have been ups and downs throughout the years.

MSCC: Crowded audience - we had 35 attendees during our sessions on Entrepreneurship and start-up culture in Mauritius
MSCC: Crowded audience - we had 35 attendees during our sessions on Entrepreneurship and start-up culture in Mauritius.

MSCC: Paying close attention to other speakers' experience as entrepreneurs - at least I got quite some new ideas during those couple of hours
MSCC: Paying close attention to other speakers' experience as entrepreneurs - at least I got quite some new ideas during those couple of hours.

Upcoming Events and networking

With such high quality of information and lots of bombshell to talk about and exchange we clearly exceeded our time frame but I'd say it was absolutely worth it. Furthermore, I had the impression that we should have a similar get-together in the near future to continue our intensive conversations.

What are the upcoming events here in Mauritius? So far, we have the following ones (incomplete list as usual) in chronological order:

Hopefully, there will be more announcements during the next couple of weeks and months. If you know about any other event, like a bootcamp, a code challenge or hackathon here in Mauritius, please drop me a note in the comment section below this article. Thanks!

My resume of the day

Get some real world experience first, build a network of professional contacts, and then think about doing your own business!

Seriously, even though the idea of starting a business right after graduation might be tempting, take into consideration that there's a lot to learn and it's definitely not the "big bucks" you should be after. Building your own company takes a lot of energy and investment in terms of time and money. Better to be prepared (at least a bit) than to run into some dumb mistakes thousands of others have already been through. Be smart, learn from others' experience, team up in start-up if you prefer a more flexible life-style.

Despite the level of self-marketing of some of our speakers there was huge amount of information regarding tips and advice for future business owners. And there were a good number of hiring opportunities, too. Almost everyone was mentioning that they are having open positions. I guess that's one of the cool aspects during our meetups, isn't it?

And.... special thanks to Santosh Achari to provide his laptop for the various presentations.

Reminder to myself: Bring the DisplayPort-VGA and HDMI-VGA adapters next time...

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