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20 June 2009

DemoCamp Cairo

Last Sunday, June 14th, six Egyptian projects were being presented in Cairo DemoCamp, that has been held in Cairo International Conference Center.

I wish you all were there in the DemoCamp, as it was really nice to see such group of talented people and interesting Egypt-based projects. And may be that's why I'll try here to summarize what've seen and add my comments and impressions about the projects.

Each project was given about 10 minutes for someone of the project team to present it, and then there were five more minutes for the audience to ask questions.

Exorcist (Vimov).
Exorcist is a mobile (iPhone) based game, developed by an Egyptian company based in Alexandria called Vimov.
The games is developed using Objective C, and it costed them about $ 25,000.
The presenter spent most of his 10 minutes talking about the obstacles they faced during the game development, and how it is really hard to find people here in Egypt with experience in such field, and even the project team themselves had to learn everything from scratch. They also weren't able to find good candidates for developing the game's audio and video effects and that's why they decided to outsource this part to US-based companies. And may be that's why we didn't have enough chance to see the game itself and how it is played, however I believe that even if the game itself is a little bit trivial and not very sophisticated and eye-candy it is still interesting to find people something as hard as a mobile game. Also I liked it when they said that they are trying to target the international market rather than focusing on the local market only, and such spirit makes me sure that if they didn't give in to any obstacles they may face in the future, they may end up developing more advanced and attractive games soon. And also such spirit makes me think that Exorcist and Vimov as a company may be a good target for any Venture Capitals or Angel Investors who would like to invest some money here in Egypt, especially that they do have a business model already as their game is being sold on Apple Store.

TVOSZ, is a Video Sharing website, or let's say a YouTube wanna be. The site's name is a little bit strange, but it is TV and the O, S and Z, are the first letteres of the developers names or nicknames. As I've told you, the previous project was done with the international market in their minds, while TVOSZ on the other hand is made for the local market. They believe that one of the main problems with YouTube et al. is that they allow some nudity, and religious and political ideas that are - according to the site owners point of view - not accepted by our society. That's why they decided to watch every single video being uploaded to their site, and they will decide if they are going to allow it or not. I am not sure if such point is enough for people to use their service instead of YouTube or Vimeo, however they still have some good features such as giving people the ability to download the videos on their PC's, and offereing them controls to adjust the video's contrast, and brightness. So far, they don't seem to have huge number of videos, and may be that's why they are not using any cloud hosting service such as Amazon yet. In fact. it is really promising that they have developed their player themselves, and I think they may be a good target for VC's and Seed Investors if they can be more flexible and change their autocratic way of controlling which videos to be accepted. They also need to work more on their interface, and may be find more appealing features for us to use their service instead of YouTube or Vimeo. One final point here is that they do have a business model, as they have the ability to inject ads in their videos, either a a pre-roll, post-roll, or even as a mid-roll banner in the bottom of the screen.

Smatx looked like an online forum for people interested in programming, web development, and related subjects. The problem is that the presenter didn't give us enough information about his service, and I am not able to access the site now to further understand it. But let's assume that it is a web forum for tech guys, the idea itself may not be new and some may argue that using an already-made CMS software to have a web form isn't something to be presented in DemoCamp. Ok, let's first ask ourselves, what's the point of an event like DemoCamp? AFAIK, it is meant for people to present their project and introduce them to the public as well as investors if any. Now let's have a look at something like TechCrunch, their value isn't in the blogging software they use, but it is in the content and articles their team writes. And that's why there are investors who invest money on it because they know that they are going to make money from the advertisements on the site. The same thing applies to Smatx, the idea of having a forum for tech savvys is cool, provided that the project team are going to focus on the content there and means for their users to be able to share their knowledge easier. They are going to have a multi-lingual interface, however I think they should try to also add modules for translating the content there for users to be able to share their knowledge even if they speak different languages. They should also focus on having more addons in the future, in order to make it a one-stop shop for tech savvys, such as giving users the ability to publish their code and make it available for others to edit and tweak it, they may offer a cvs hosting service or so. I am not sure what is in their minds, but I am really interested to see projects like this from very young people like the ones behind Smatx.

Ehmmm ... I think you already know this one ... so let's go to the next project on our list.

Ok, there was a break after Baralbait, and I went out to get some water, and when I tried to get back to the hall they didn't allow me to enter
till I finish the bottle of water with me. Anyway, I caught some parts of the presentation, and it was more like an introductory video to RFID and it's uses and its uses. Anyway, if you'd like, you may visit their site here to know more about their project.

I am sure, I am not the only one who was impressed by this project. Carlog is a social application for people to bye and sell cars, discuss any aspects about the different car vendors and models, and many more. People can even enter their car model and its mileage and carlog tells them the services and maintenance needed. People can also upload their maintenance log and documents for others to know the status of their car before buying it. The guys behind this project know what they are doing, and their are aware of social services and viral marketing. They are giving you the ability to log into their site using your facebook account (Facebook Connect). You can their export all your actions on the site into your facebook account. They've already contacted the car dealers and agencies here in Egypt, and they will be responsible for entering the detailed aspects of their car models. Car Agencies as well as different car models will have their own pages on the site, and people can rate them according to their experience.

WeebK, is ... ehmmm .... ok, it's a search engine. The presenter was reading from a paper and was trying to use technical jargon translated into Arabic. And to tell you the truth, I wasn't able to understand anything from his presentation. The only thing I got from it, is that Google and Yahoo are being fooled by SEO geeks and their search result aren't accurate and are redundant, so he developed new algorithms that can kick Google and Yahoo's a$$. WeebK web spiders traverse technical sites such as Microsoft and Cisco only as they want their search engine to be used by tech people.

References and Links
Finally, you may also have a look at those posts written by other people who have attended the DemoCamp too.
IRCPresident, Techno-eMedia Part1 and Part2 [Ar]
AmrSpace, DemoCamp Coverage [Ar]
TripleM, Inside DemoCamp Cairo [En]