Mobile Phone Programming for Entrepreneurs



Nathan Eagle, PhD

Research Scientist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Dr. Peter Waiganjo Wagacha

Lecturer, School of Computing and Informatics

University of Nairobi



What is this course about?


This is a project-based course that will allow students to learn enough of the basics of mobile phone programming to design and launch their own mobile phone application. While a major focus of the course will be on the technical skills required to build these application, we will also have a particular emphasis on opportunity analysis and product marketing. Success in this class depends on recognizing an existing market demand and the meeting that demand with the design and launch of an original mobile phone-related service. While there will be an emphasis on SMS server-side application development, we will also give students to the skills to build applications on the phone itself.


There are no exams or tests, but rather assignments and an evaluation of both the marketing and technical merits of a final project.



What do I need to know before taking this course?


No computer programming experience is required to take this course, however some background with scripting languages and web servers will certainly prove beneficial.


While a solid understanding of the current mobile phone market in Kenya will be important, there is also no need for previous marketing or entrepreneurial experience.





                                 Class Assignments (4)........................................................          40%

      Final Team Project..............................................................           60%





Week 1

We provide an outline of both the technical and entrepreneurial components of the course and detail what will be expected of individual students and teams. We will end with an introduction session where students can meet others and break into teams based on related interests.


Week 3

We will overview of the current status of the global mobile phone value-added services industry. We then will look specifically at the African market and brainstorm on opportunities. Implementation details on particular handsets are overviewed. We end with a lecture on SMS-based server-side mobile phone application design. We address issues of scalability and robustness, and discuss the variety of open-source SMS gateways packages currently available. Team rosters are collected and remaining students are placed on teams.


Week 5           

What does it take to start a next-generation mobile phone service in Kenya? Guest speaker: Caleb Owino, Product Manger of Data Services at Safaricom.


Week 7

Review team submissions for business opportunities and outline implementation strategies and marketing techniques. Guest Speaker: Ken Njoroge, CEO of Cellulant. (A mobile phone value added services company based in Nairobi.) Students launch their services and begin their strategic marketing campaigns.


Week 9

Final team project reviewed by a panel of Kenyan entrepreneurs and telecommunication executives. Particular emphasis is on the number of active users during the last two weeks, originality of the concept, and technical merits of the implementation.


Python Java SMS Mobile Phone Programming for Entrepreneurs