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How to get more out of the local startup ecosystem

Creating a startup is one of the hardest things that anyone can undertake and finding support used to be a daunting task. However, that has changed over the past few years with more and more resources cropping up for entrepreneurs.

During the recent Techstars-4-A-Day event, which was held at the Rise hub in Cape Town, four panellists spoke about the local ecosystem and how entrepreneurs can leverage information from it.

Barclays Rise and its focus on fintech

The ecosystem manager for Barclays Rise in Africa, Camilla Swart, opened with a few words about the organisation as well as what it looks to achieve.

“Part of my role here is to get more people involved in fintech.” This role consists of getting entrepreneurs to meet investors, and more.

The organisation wants to put a spotlight on Blockchain, AI and Big Data, while Swart mentioned that “financial inclusion is an important thing to focus on”.

The local ecosystem and finding opportunities

Michelle Matthews, head of innovation and enterprise development at CiTi, said that while Telkom’s head office is based in Pretoria, its data unit is based in Woodstock, Cape Town. This has allowed for a number for working spaces to pop up with increased bandwidth for entrepreneurs.

The panel was quite vocal about local startup events and how they benefit those who attend them.

“Events are an important part of an ecosystem because that’s where you do most of your networking,” said Swart. “In these networking opportunities, what you give is what you get.”

The co-founder of Brightcap, Jacomien Van der Merwe, also mentioned how startup events have helped her in the past, such as the Financial Hackathon held at Rise, Women in Business, which took place at the Bandwidth Barn, as well as the SAP pitching competition.

“Every single one of the events I’ve attended has led me down a journey,” said the founder of Fomo Travel, Andrew Katzwinkel. An example of this was a ‘speed dating’ session he attended for entrepreneurs and investors; it helped him launch Fomo.

Curating your information

The panelists went on to talk about other ways of finding useful information for entrepreneurs, one of which was books.

Katzwinkel mentioned that fan favourite The Lean Startup was incredibly helpful in the early stages of founding Fomo Travel.

Van der Merwe added that reading books by Elon Musk has been a help and said that: “If you’re fund raising, read a good book, and get knowledge about fund raising.”

Another example was the use of social media. Swart said that Twitter helped her learn about fintech when she first started her job at Rise.

Matthews added that you should only look at people on Twitter who apply to you.

Feature image: David Stanley via Flickr.

Author Bio

Graham van der Made: Editor
Graham started out as an electronics manager at Take2 Home Entertainment and went on to spend a further ten years in the South African ecommerce industry. During this time, Graham founded and managed an online geek and hobby shop. He has always had a passion for writing and has... More