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All posts by Stephen Timm: Editor

  • China’s ban of ICOs unlikely to effect long-term bitcoin sales says Luno founder

    China's ban earlier this month of initial coin offerings (ICOs) is unlikely to affect bitcoin sales in the long term -- while the volatility may in fact benefit bitcoin platforms, says the founder of Luno bitcoin platform Marcus Swanepoel. Speaking to Ventureburn yesterday following his startup's announcement of a R120-million funding round, Swanepoel pointed out that ICOs and cryptocurrency itself are two different things and that the ban is likely not effect Bitcoin sales. Read more: SA bitcoin platform Luno closes R120m round led by Balderton Capital "I don't think there will be any fallout from it," said the founder of the four-year old South...

  • FNB manager details six ways startups can improve their pitch to a corporate

    One of the worse things a tech entrepreneur looking to pitch to a corporate can do, is to send one liners to corporate managers asking for individuals to call them, says FNB's head of enterprise development Heather Lowe. "The bank is a business and as you would expect, it is not obliged to simply spend time and resources following up with no ends. Businesses need to take the pitch seriously from the onset," she says. Stakeholders are busy and quite often one has one chance to make an impression, says FNB head The advice is one of six tips she says startups should...

  • SA bitcoin platform Luno closes R120m round led by Balderton Capital

    South African founded bitcoin platform Luno today announced its expansion into 35 new markets across Europe, and a R120-million Series B funding round, led by London-based venture capital firm Balderton Capital. Rand Merchant Investments, through its fintech investment arm, AlphaCode, and existing investors Digital Currency Group also participated in the round. Luno allows users to buy and sell digital currencies. The announcement follows Luno’s R60-million Series A round in 2015, which was led by emerging market tech giant Naspers. While Luno CEO Marcus Swanepoel declined to reveal the exact size of the stake in the company that investors had taken, he said that...

  • Who is Israeli angel investor company behind success of SA’s Zapper?

    In under four years South African mobile payments platform Zapper has grown to operate in 12 markets, employing over 300 people. It sounds like a SA startup success -- but who really owns the Durban-based company? The company, which earlier this month introduced mobile payment starter packs to the market, does not provide information on its website on who its owners are. While a number of media stories have in the past have referred to Zapper Group CEO David de Villiers (pictured above), as the founder of Zapper, the former IT head at Investec bank told Ventureburn that he started the firm in November 2013 with...

  • Don’t assume you know more about tech than those you pitch to – Clicks head

    Startups that pitch their apps or web platform to corporates should not assume that they are more knowledgeable technologically than those that they are pitching to. So says Amanda Graham, Head of Business Development at Clicks Group. This is one of the six "obvious" mistakes that startups pitching to corporates make, says Graham. The others include (among others) failing to read up on the company's existing products, assuming that the corporate does not have access to world benchmarks and presenting to the corporate why everything they are doing is wrong. Startups must not assume that they are more knowledgeable technologically than individuals that they are...

  • TIA seed fund lending to innovators, entrepreneurs grows 12% to R74m

    The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) channeled R74.3-million in the last financial year to 133 innovative projects -- up from R66.5-million in the 2015/16 year -- through its seed fund, the agency revealed in its latest annual report. The seed fund, which the agency launched in 2013, provides entrepreneurs and innovators that develop innovative solutions with grant funding of up to R500 000 to R650 000 per project. The fund has two streams – one that channels seed funding through technology transfer centres at universities and science centres to innovative projects and another that works with a number of small business support organisations in provinces...

  • ProsperiProp appoints Grant Thornton for ICO in bid to boost investor confidence

    Ahead of its initial coin offering (ICO) planned for this Friday (15 September), South African African fintech startup ProsperiProp announced today that it has appointed international auditing firm Grant Thornton to audit its business processes and financial results. Through its planned ICO startup wants to allow investors a chance to invest in international property. ProsperiProp aims to raise between $60-million and $120-million through the ICO in its own PROPX tokens, valued at one dollar a piece. The company will itself retain $80-million of tokens. Today's announcement comes just days after ProsperiProp announced last week that it had delayed its ICO to this...

  • Startups must think twice about pivoting for corporates – MMI Holdings manager

    Startups that pitch to corporates should be wary about pivoting their business just to accommodate a corporate, if they risk losing focus on their initial values, cautions Carol Atkinson, the managing partner of Integration Exponential Ventures at MMI Holdings. This is one of Atkinson's key tips for startups looking to pitch their web platforms and apps to corporates such as MMI (which includes insurers Momentum). In her 17 years with MMI, Atkinson has been involved in diverse areas in the company -- from product design, to development and implementation. She previously headed up the group's SMME segment and has been working specifically in the disruptive innovation space...

  • Is Durban man’s Airwater solution to Cape Town’s drought really that water-tight?

    It sounds like a breakthrough solution – producing water from condensation in the air. But in his bid to solve Cape Town’s water crisis, a Durban man could be knowingly wasting thousands of litres of water. Airwater CEO Ray de Vries has in recent weeks appeared on television talk shows and in newspaper articles warning that if the water crisis is not tackled Cape Town will be "dry by Christmas", while punting his machines that he claims can provide a sustainable water solution to everyone from offices and restaurants to car-wash services. De Vries, the former marketing manager for the country's Dusi Canoe Marathon,...

  • SA SME Fund is not aimed at venture capital sector, says CEO

    South Africa's R1.5-billion SA SME Fund is not aimed at boosting the country's nascent venture capital (VC) sector, but rather at helping already profitable mid-sized companies to grow and create jobs, says the fund's CEO Quinton Dicks. “It’s not a venture capital fund – it’s not the SA Venture Capital Fund,” said Dicks (pictured above) in a call yesterday with Ventureburn. In the call he revealed that the fund had commenced with screening funding partners and is likely by the end of this year to complete due diligence work on five funds it plans to co-invest with. In a recent interaction with Dicks, tech entrepreneurs voiced their concern...