Start-up Zaio to help students

The Zaio team, back from left, are Mvelo Hlophe, Thando Hlongwane, Asif Hassam and Mihlali Xozwa. In front are, Ntuthuko Mpaku, Akhil Boddu and Harjot Singh.

A group of UCT students has come together to form a start-up company, Zaio, to help students land jobs in IT.

Zaio was formed in October last year, when student app developer Thando Hlongwane realised that one of the biggest issues he faced was not really having any practical experience.

“Guys like Mvelo Hlophe, who are aspiring entrepreneurs, were finding it very difficult to prototype and create innovations, because it’s really expensive to build tech.”

The team includes Mvelo Hlophe, Thando Hlongwane, Mihlali Xozwa, Harjot Singh, Akhil Boddu, Ntuthuko Mpaku and Asif Hassam, all of whom have an interest in technology and entrepreneurship.

Zaio gives other start-ups access to web and app development.

The only woman on the Zaio team, Mihlali, who is the finance and community lead, is trying to get more women involved in the project.

“We want to make this tech-driven space more inclusive. That’s at the core of our business,” she said.

The team turned its attention to coding challenges and company tours to broaden the experiences of developers as they try to build relevant industry skills.

Once a project has been identified, individual developers are grouped together in what Zaio calls clusters. Then, under the direction of a project manager, they build the necessary prototypes.

“Someone who comes to Zaio might ask us to build out a prototype. This is normally an entrepreneur or a start-up. If that’s the case, we will deploy a team of developers. These people are now competent enough to build out a prototype for a start-up,” said Akhil.

There is, however, an alternative approach.

“Another way is that they’re simply looking for manpower – they’re looking for more developers to come on board to help them in their start-up. We are also currently working with corporates who are looking for developers to recruit.

“Because we are upskilling all of these developers, we have created this development journey and ecosystem and we can easily provide developers to companies,” he said.