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All posts by Mich Atagana

  • 6 lessons on innovation from Bill and Melinda Gates: number 4 will break your heart

    I listened to the commencement speech from Bill and Melinda Gates at Stanford University over the weekend and one thing stood out: the couple are big on innovation. This is, after all, the guy that revolutionised the face of personal computing. The speech was quite thought provoking, on what true innovation really is and what technology is and can be used for. Is the role of technology to make people's lives better? Whose life? Should innovation bridge the digital divide? Who is technology serving right now? "If rich kids got computers and poor kids didn't, then technology would make inequality worse," Bill...

  • 9 things we wish African entrepreneurs would invent already

    There are times when it seems like there is an app for everything and entrepreneurs would have to reach pretty far to keep building new things. But in Africa, there are many things that need to be invented and problems that need to be solved. As an interested party in the African startup and entrepreneur ecosystem, we obviously have a few things we think need to be built on the continent. We decided to put together a list of things we wish African entrepreneurs could get going on. Now, some of these may be in the works already or some...

  • Anatomy of a pivot: the story of Fora, a startup that never was

    When I was in Nigeria a few months ago, I got the distinct feeling that education startups were the new hot ticket for young tech entrepreneurs. One of them wanted to build an online university, another wanted to provide a test platform for standardised tests and Fora wanted to give Africans access to the best possible education online. Today, Fora is dead. When I met the bright-eyed founder of this company, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, his energetic smiles and excited air suggested that he really believed he could make this work. The idea for Fora was pretty simple: an online education platform that wanted to...

  • Budget-friendly uberX hits Cape Town with free rides for the long weekend

    Alright Capetonians, no more complaints about Toyota Corollas and Avanzas picking you up when you order an UberBlack. Yup, the luxury car ordering service is relegating the "not so luxury" cars into its X range, which launched in Cape Town today. Uber's Cape Town team has been hinting at including the low-cost option into its service offering for some time now. "We are thrilled to launch uberX in Cape Town today. This new service means that you can now enjoy the seamlessness, efficiency and safety of Uber at an extremely affordable price," sais Anthony le Roux, General Manager...

  • Want to start a business cheaply? Think twice about South Africa

    New research from Venture Capital firm, Savannah Fund, shows that South Africa is the most expensive country to start a tech company in. The data, which was published late last week highlights six of Africa's fastest growing tech ecosystems: Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and South Africa. According to the Kenyan-based firm, it is interested in the "differing variables that can affect entrepreneurs" in the countries it may choose to invest in. The point of the study, it seems, is to better understand the costs that startups may incur in their first year of business in these countries. "In...

  • 8 lessons for your war (or startup) from Game of Thrones

    Some of us have read the books and some of us are also watching the series. If you think about the warring factions of Westeros like we do -- as businesses -- it gets more interesting. While watching Episode Seven it occurred to me that the series holds many lessons for startups. They might be subtle, but they are there. We've come up with a list of Game of Thrones (GoT) pointers that we think your startup could benefit from. (Careful -- there may be spoilers below for those who haven't watched the latest season.) Your family/team always comes first What is...

  • MTN acquires controlling stake in Afrihost but nothing changes says CEO

    Mobile operator MTN is really carving its way into telecoms dominance. According to an email sent to Afrihost users, the company has "agreed to join MTN" for an undisclosed amount. In the email, sent from Gian Visser CEO, Afrihost explains that the mobile juggernaut is acquiring "50% +1 of Afrihost's shares and the current shareholders are retaining the remaining 50%". This means that MTN group will have a controlling interest of the internet provider. Founded in 2000 as a Web hosting and IT services company, Afrihost has evolved in the last 14 years. "For the 14 years that Afrihost has been alive...

  • Takealot appoints Willem van Biljon new CTO and co-CEO

    Things are getting very interesting at Takealot. Since announcing its US$100-million investment from Tiger Global and its mission to improve it technology Takealot seems to be putting its new dollars hard at work with the appointment of Willem van Biljon new CTO and co-CEO of the company. One of Africa's kickass entrepreneur, Van Biljon co-founded Mosaic Software, the creators of the Postilion payment system, and was one of the leaders that built Amazon’s EC2 cloud service and Nimbula. Van Biljon has since exited both companies to major players such as Amazon and Oracle, respectively. "We are thrilled to have...

  • PriceCheck partnering with MTN to bring its app to the masses

    Who is the biggest ecommerce player in Africa? Yes you guessed it,  MTN. At least PriceCheck seems to think so with its new co-branded MTN app. According to price comparison app the partnership proves how important the relationship between mobile in retail and ecommerce really is. "This is further emphasised by the fact that smartphones are outselling feature phones for the first time in Africa, opening up and expanding the already booming ecommerce sector," says PriceCheck. MTN has been quite busy in the ecommerce space lately with partnerhsips with various entities most notably the ecommerce behemoth Rocket Internet. "The partnership with MTN...

  • Built in Africa: CHIFCO hopes to build a greener future for all

    Built in Africa focuses on entrepreneurs, startups and technologies that hail from the continent and empower its citizens. The global energy crisis has provided entrepreneurs with new opportunities to innovate. Conserving energy is not only in vogue but necessary for a lasting power supply. Africa has had energy and power problems for some time and it seems more and more African entrepreneurs are looking for solutions. Earlier in this series we introduced you to Patrick Ngowi, the man bringing clean energy to East Africa with his solar energy company. In this, our seventh instalment of the Built in Africa series, we...