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All posts by Stephen Timm: Editor

  • SA lending platform Prodigy Finance chose London for ‘pro-business regulation’

    Cape Town founder of multi-million dollar lending platform Prodigy Finance Cameron Stevens says the "pro-business" regulation of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority was key in his decision 10 years ago to set up his platform in London 10 years ago. Through the platform Prodigy Finance lends to students globally via an Irish Stock Exchange listed bond. Last month the company announced a R3.19-billion fundraise from venture capital firm Index Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital and AlphaCode and a global investment bank. South Africa has yet to develop regulation on peer-to-peer lending or equity crowdfunding, while the UK has of late been praised for crafting rules that are fair and balanced. Read more: SA founder of Fintech platform...

  • Silicon Valley’s monopoly on innovation is over says Takealot’s Willem van Biljon

    The monopoly that Silicon Valley has long held in technology innovation is "largely" over, says tech entrepreneur and take-a lot co-CEO Willem van Biljon. Van Biljon is a former Silicon Valley resident himself and one of South Africa’s most respected tech entrepreneurs. The former CSIR employee co-founded Mosaic Software which he sold to S1 Corp in 2004, before starting Nimbula which was later acquired by Oracle in 2013 for $110-million. Since 2014 he has served as co-CEO at SA ecommerce site Takealot. Read more: Are these the 10 all-time biggest exit deals for SA startups? “I think the monopoly on innovation...

  • Record turnout expected at Startup Grind Cape Town with over 800 tickets issued

    Over 800 tickets have been sold for tonight's Startup Grind Cape Town party and event, which kicks off at 5.30pm at Workshop 17 in the Waterfront. Speaking to Ventureburn yesterday Guillaume de Smedt, who is the chapter 's Cape Town director, said he had already issued 800 free tickets to tonight's event which will feature Takealot co-CEO Willem van Biljon. There will also be live music and entertainment. De Smedt said he expects about 40% of those that got tickets to drop out, but has as a contingency measure organised special viewing screens in rooms around at Workshop 17 to accommodate the expected additional...

  • Former Rocket Internet man tells how he cloned firms, from Cape Town to Bangkok

    Cape Town born Tauriq Brown always wanted to be an international businessman. He may claim to be an entrepreneur. But the 28-year-old former Rocket Internet employee is just one of the hundreds employed by massive venture-builder companies to clone and run companies for them. As a venture builder, Brown (pictured middle, above) has been involved in starting and running at least five ventures, on behalf of venture-builder companies Rocket Internet and Mountain Partners, which is headquartered in Switzerland. This has taken him to Nigeria, Vietnam and now to Thailand, where he is employed as managing director for 15-year old Thai lingerie company Kyra Mode. Yet he admits he still draws a...

  • SA startup Pineapple secures R5.2m to take on short-term insurance market

    SA insurtech startup Pineapple has secured R5.2-million in seed funding from Lireas Holdings, the strategic investment arm of Hannover-Re Group Africa, in return for a 25% stake in the business. The startup, which is based in Johannesburg, made the announcement yesterday to Ventureburn. The funding will help the company to bring their innovative insurance offering to market by funding marketing, development and staff costs. Pineapple co-founder and former actuarial science graduate Matthew Elan Smith, 24 (pictured above right, with co-founders developer Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube, 26 and accountant Marnus van Heerden, 26) said he and his fellow co-founders are in the process of signing...

  • SA’s ProsperiProp plans to run two ICOs to get around crowdfunding challenge

    South African startup ProsperiProp plans to hold two initial coin offerings (ICOs) for investors to invest in international property -- with the first next Friday, 8 September -- to get around South Africa's lack of crowdfunding regulations. Traditionally investors need to put down tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to invest in property, but ProsperiProp wants to give the man on the street a chance to invest in property The startup's founder and CEO Llew Morkel said the first ICO will be aimed largely at international investors, using a cryptocurrency created by the company, called “PROPX”. The ICO aims to raise between $60-million and $120-million in PROPX...

  • Startups misjudge complexity of dealing with corporate says Standard Bank head

    Startups should understand the complexity of dealing with large corporations. Failing to do so could put a strain on their resources, cautions Jayshree Naidoo, the head of the Standard Bank Incubator. In an interview with Ventureburn on how startups can best prepare themselves to pitch to corporates, Naidoo adds that entrepreneurs should take the necessary steps to protect their IP before presenting to a corporate. She adds that many corporates won't enter into an NDA unless they see potential value in the solution for their respective corporate. Startups should understand the complexity of dealing with large corporations, says Standard Bank exec She says the bank gets on average at least 10 to 15 requests a month through...

  • SA payments platform Nomanini selected as MIT awards finalist, nets $35 000

    South African based payments platform Nomanini has been selected from among 300 companies as one of four finalists in the financial inclusion category of the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge. In addition Nomanini has received a $35 000 award in recognition of its transformative approach to driving economic opportunity in the digital age, the Cape Town based company said in a press release today. The company, which provides banks and mobile operators with a better way to serve the continent's informal sector, plans to use the funds to help boost financial inclusion via local informal retail merchants, who serve as a daily touch point for over 80% of people in...

  • Nedbank no easy sell for your app or platform, executive tells tech startups

    Trying to sell your payments solution to Nedbank is no easy thing. While the banks gets between 10 and 15 requests from startups a month, it turns down most of these. Chris Wood, Nedbank executive of emerging payments, strategy and regulation, says he takes a hardline on deciding which ideas to go with and which to turn down. “My motto has definitely become 'I choose what to say no to, long before I choose what to say yes to'. If we said yes to every idea, we’d have so many competing things going on that our customers would lose track of...

  • Two months on SME minister yet to announce new National Gazelles names

    Two months after the start of the second cohort of the Small Enterprise Development Agency’s (Seda) National Gazelles programme, the Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu has yet to announce the names of 40 participating high-growth firms selected for the programme. The programme aims is to grow the value of each of the 40 participating small businesses by 20% over the next three years. The call for the second cohort went out in October last year, but programme administrators Traction managing director Martin Feinstein and Mtiya Dynamics managing director Zukile Nomafu said the names of those selected for the second cohort are now with Zulu and will be...