DEMO Africa Super Stars: Alison Jacobson, CEO, Firestring

Meet Alison Jacobson, CEO of Firestring, one of the DEMO Africa Final 40 set to pitch at the event on October 24-26 in Nairobi

Here's her pitch for Firestring, as found on the VC4 Africa site:

Firestring is a technology company leading the field of semantic technology leveraging social architecture to radically enhance knowledge management.

As a field-leader in Web 3.0 technologies for the enterprise, our customers use our unique Enterprise Social Networking platform powered by the Firestring Social-Semantic Engine, Serendipity. Our customers use our technologies to structure their unstructured information, creating semantic metadata automatically from their document repositories and collaborating in real-time via our private social networking front-end.

What this means is that Firestring will find the right information for you when you need it. And, in time, that information will also use our algorithms find you.

We asked her a few questions about her startup, as we have been doing with several of the African startup entrepreneurs selected for the Final 40. Her focus seems to be on focus. 

What was the most difficult challenge your business faced this year?

Our challenge often boils down to a narrowing of focus. There are so many products we could develop, we get excited by new ideas and opportunities all the time. Our customers are really excited about our products and share our vision of simplifying enterprise information sharing. As entrepreneurs we have to stay focused on taking to market the products we’ve already developed and supporting and enhancing those in live customer environments. This allows us to leverage actual revenue opportunities and has sustained growth. Aligned to this is the challenge of staying focused on creating licensable product that we can sell many times instead of chasing short-term revenue by responding to diverse customer project requirements.


Who inspired you the most this week, and why?

We were really inspired in meeting with the CIO of a global banking and investment group. He was able to blend a genuine and practical understanding of enterprise processes and systems with innovative thinking around cutting-edge web technologies. Often the two are at odds with one another and CIOs see cutting-edge as presenting risk. Instead of only focusing on risk and compliance he articulated the opportunities  - defining specific inflection points regarding big data management, mobile technologies and enabling his workforce to be more agile through social business architectures – connecting people to people and information where and when they need it.