How It Started: gharage

how it started gharage

In this maiden interview of the How It Started series, I start with myself. Most times, we usually start with other people. This time, I want to start with myself. I’m hopeful that I could help inspire people who want to get into writing, or tech journalism, especially in Ghana. Enjoy.

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Claude Ayitey, a website designer, and developer or fancy enough a UI/UX Developer. But what most people know me for is that I write on gharage.com which covers tech in Ghana; news, startups, opinions and more.

 

How did you get into tech?

I have affinity for devices and tech so I got interested to study Computer Science and that’s how I got into tech.

 

How did you get the idea for gharage?

When I joined MEST in 2012, the team organised Startup Weekend, and because I usually have a busy weekend, I didn’t want to participate by coding, etc. What I wanted to do was just tweet about it. At the time, there used to be the Global Hashtag Battle. So they’d usually try to see which event had the highest reach just by the number of tweets with a particular hashtag. Among my classmates then, I was quite active on Twitter, and during that weekend alone I sent in about 400 tweets, and I was so surprised. It was exciting to share what folks were doing, new ideas they were working on, etc. and the whole process behind SW being blogged live on Twitter, all through to the announcement of winners. I still remember Waali Wireless, from then. LOL. By the way, we didn’t win the hashtag battle. 😔, but that got me to see the power of Twitter, and how that could help disseminate information.

A couple of weeks later, Ghana had our first election with biometric verification, and some of my mates encouraged me to blog. One of our senior class members had a blog, Techy Africa, which I wrote my first blog post on. It was on the elections, basically. A couple of months later, and writing continuously, we won the Best Tech Blog in Ghana, at the Blogging Ghana Awards 2013. It was such a proud moment; I was so excited. That’s how I got into blogging. And all the time, I am excited about how some posts I put the blog will help some startup, either for awareness, for investment due diligence, etc.

how it started gharage
Charles Mensah, Claude Ayitey at Blogging Ghana Awards 2013

After sometime when Techy Africa wasn’t online any more, and I had already started DevCongress with some awesome lefties, I decided to run the blog under DevCongress, so I set it up under news.devcongress.com, which eventually became news.devcongres.org. Later, I thought to change it because it was better to have a name for the blog, and for it to be able to run independently. So I thought about gharage.com, which I explained in another article. And that’s how gharage was born.

 

What was the biggest barrier to starting?

When it was on news.devcongress.org, it was hosted on Blogspot, so it was easier since there were no hosting charges, etc. but when I was about to start, I thought about how I’d get money to pay for hosting. But to be fair, hosting comes around yearly, so it’s a good enough time to make some money to cater for that. And I used to think if it would be beneficial at all.

I was also worried about the logo, etc. because I have an eye for design. But I’m glad on what I settled on. It’ll probably live for sometime to come.

 

How did you overcome the barrier?

I registered the name, wrote the explainer article. I moved over the old articles, and I just started. For the logo, I used the DevCongress font, and design style, and voila! Initially, I started with a barebones template of a WordPress theme I created for MVP purposes, and after sometime, decided to change it, and have put in some structures, for posting, etc.

Version 1 of gharage.com

 

How was your first sale and how did it happen?

Actually, the first time I was paid to cover an event was through BloggingGhana. And because of my field, they were tech events. In all those, I wasn’t as excited about the money as I was about being able to write. I’m kind of an innate writer so I was excited to write. I think on one of those event days, I was really down. After the event, I came back and decided to write a blog post, one for BloGH, and the other for gharage. And I couldn’t explain how excited I was after I had written both posts. And that happens quite often, when I write.

 

Best advice I’ve received?

There are two of them; one is inspiring, the other is scary. They inspiring one is “The best way to start is to start”, which is self-explanatory. The other which I find scary is “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” I think it’s scary because then there are a lot of opportunities to things you’d have never gotten because you didn’t want to ask. And that usually has to do with asking people for favours, and missed opportunities, not things you could do yourself.

 

What’s a current problem you wish there was a tech solution to?

I usually use the Liberation Road a lot, and sometimes I wish there was a more clever way to beat traffic on that side of town. If flying cars were a thing, they’d be an alternative for that route. Traffic in Accra…

 

Tell us something interesting about you few people know.

I’m left-handed, I play the piano, and I have very deep interests and feet in music production, and training.

 

Which Ghanaian apps do you use often?

I used to expressPay until my bank offered a USSD service for that. But I still use expressPay to pay for cross-network transactions, subscriptions, etc. I also use kasahorow, quite often for my ɔ’s and ɛ’s. I had been using Eazyloop for handling deliveries across Accra, but since they stopped their local delivery service, I’m looking for a new option.

 

Which part of the day do you enjoy the most?

I rarely wake up early because I mostly work until late, but I like that part of the day when the sun is now coming out, and then it just parts through the windows to some part of the house, and you don’t need to turn on the lights. At that time, you can do anything you want to do; pray, sleep, write, think, plan, etc.

 

About The Series

The How It Started series brings you interviews of Ghanaian techpreneurs. The aim is to inspire and to excite you to start working on your idea, and give you encouragement to believe in the ideas you want to try your hands on.

To support this series, kindly use the embed form below, and select an inspiration tier of your choice, to support gharage on egoTickets.

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Also published on Medium.

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