The team behind VC4Africa – meet design guru Gaudi Hoedaya

By Ben White on October 30, 2010

On Monday November 1st VC4Africa will launch its new matchmaking platform. Hard to believe knowing we started with only a Linkedin Group and later a platform on Ning:) In lead to this date we would like to publish a bit more on the ‘process behind the scenes.’ It is actually quite remarkable given we worked with designers from Rotterdam and Nairobi, software teams in Amsterdam and in Cameroon and photographers from Kenya and Ghana!! Not to mention the project team comes from Seattle, Limburg and Santa Fe:)

None of this would have been possible without an incredibly talented and motivated team. This week I will be interviewing different people who worked on the project so you can get an insight into the process. It shows that a project can truly be crowdsourced from across Africa, the US, Europe and elsewhere. We hope the new VC4Africa platform serves to mute the naysayers and shows what’s possible instead.

Today I interview Gaudi Hoedaya, our lead design guru based in Rotterdam. This guy is amazing to work with and his passion for the design process really inspired me. The first thing Gaudi did after our initial meeting was produce a mind map. It frightened me to realize all of the elements we were trying to tackle as part of this effort. The fact that he took this reality and translated it into something so simple is really what kicked this project into high gear. Check out his website at Hoedaya.com.

What was the draw for you to help VC4Africa launch?

I very much love the idea of connecting people – in our case entrepreneurs and investor. So when Bart Lacroix first approach me and we first met for the brief I was directly enthusiastic and energized about it. That day, I saw some pictures of African Entrepreneurs taken during the 1%EVENT in Kenya, I remember I was so impressed by the drive and energy I saw in their eyes. I felt the connection and was happy to be able to help making it happen.

How did the process work for you, what made it different and how were you inspired by Joshua for example?

Africa makes all the difference. I’ve never done an intercontinental co-creation design project for a website that has it’s audience in Africa before and I am very happy to have Joshua Wanyama in the design team. He has got a good eye and knows what’s happening in Africa and that fed the process. The inspiration I’ve got from him is therefor crucial and helping me understand the audience better. Working from a distance has it’s challenges but I am very happy to see that it worked out perfectly at the end. In fact, I wish more projects should worked out this way.

What are the key points/ideas behind the new design?

Before we started redesigning the website we first created a new identity for VC4Africa. The key ideas behind the design of the logo is that it has to not only reflect the core of the business but the spirit of the continent as well. We needed a symbol that goes beyond simple abbreviation. After several sketches and fed by the words, visuals and colors associations Joshua sent us I finally came out with the idea that great ideas and initiatives popping out throughout the continent, as a pulse, a vibration of creativity. This pulse is then visualized as ripples that touched other ripples elsewhere on the continent. The logo is a snapshot or moment of this interaction between ripples of ideas and events.

The website is the first real estate where we put the brand new logo to work. I wanted a fresh environment with clear elements with not to dominant colors – the colors will come from the people, images, the African flags, etc. The site itself shoulp support their user so it should stay in the background as much as possible. However, it has to have characteristics to claim it’s identity.

How do you look at the results?

I am very happy with the overall results, the Limbe Labs team that did the programming has done an excellent job in bringing the designs into live. Very curious on how the users will experience the new look, the interaction and the functionality in the coming months. Their opinions count most.

What is for you the strength in this collaborative process?

1+1=3

Anything else you think is interesting to add?

I am pretty amazed on how this long distance project went smoother than some of real-live-meeting-rich projects and I believe I know the secret: throughout the project which started in March for me, Ben has always been the motor behind all this. His motivation and drive keeps others going. The human factor is key. Thumbs up Ben and cheers for a successful VC4Africa and it’s entrepreneurs, investors and businesses.

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