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All posts by Stephen Timm: Editor

  • Entrepreneur’s report to address why SA has yet to produce a unicorn

    South African startups have produced a string of successes of late. Yet something is lacking. In April Edtech startup GetSmarter announced it would sell to US-listed 2U for $103-million, while last year SA company Giraffe, beat out 54 finalists from around the globe in the Seedstars World entrepreneurship competition. So why asks Jason Levin, a former entrepreneur with 20 years experience building marketing agencies, have countries like Nigeria and Poland produced unicorns -- but not South Africa? Levin of Elevation Holdings, a business consulting and angel investment firm, will next Wednesday (14 June) launch his report "Unicorns, Gazelles & Leapfrogs: Fast-tracking the South African startup ecosystem" at the Gordon Institute of Business Science...

  • Joburg health platform Guidepost one of 20 new companies Endeavor to boost

    Two South African entrepreneurs are among 28 business owners from 15 countries that Endeavor, a global non-profit organisation that backs high-impact entrepreneurship, recently welcomed into its fold. Graham Rowe and Richard Johnson (pictured above, left and right, respectively), of Joburg-based company Sancreed, were selected by Endeavor along with 19 other companies from around the world at the 71st International Selection Panel held between May 15 and 17, 2017, in Canary Wharf, London (see the full list here). With their selection as Endeavor entrepreneurs the two will have access to a worldwide network of successful entrepreneurs, as well as mentoring and the chance to receive investment from Endeavor. Their...

  • Can 12J VC tax incentive create the jobs South Africa badly needs?

    Tim Strang wants to provide spaza shops and wholesalers with a better way to order stock, through an app. He's betting on creating hundreds of jobs for sales agents that deploy the app -- thanks to an investment under a venture capital (VC) tax incentive. His Durban-based company and app, Spazapp is one of a number of firms that venture capital companies (VCCs) have invested in under the incentive, which is administered by the SA Revenue Service (Sars) and falls under Section 12J of the Income Tax Act. It allows investors to get a tax rebate if they invest in a VCC that in...

  • Investors clamouring for 12J VC incentive following tax hike – fund managers

    The increase in the top marginal income tax rate to 45% for high earners is driving more South African investors to seek out the 12J venture capital (VC) incentive to offset their taxable income, say fund managers. Under the incentive, which is managed by the South African Revenue Service (Sars), investors that invest in venture capital companies (VCCs) that in turn invest in qualifying small enterprises, can write off the full investment made in any one year from their taxable income. In February in his Budget speech then Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced a new top tax rate of 45% for individuals earning...

  • Are these the 10 all-time biggest exit deals for SA startups? [Digital All Stars]

    Digital All Stars is a series of articles which aims to celebrate the best of South African digital. The articles, which will appear on Memeburn and Ventureburn, recognise and celebrate South Africa’s best digital entrepreneurs, business people, advertisers, and media professionals among others. Coming in the wake of edtech company GetSmarter's $123-million deal announced in May, we take a look at what could be the biggest exit deals for South African startups. Just about all of them are by startups based in Cape Town, with most having developed solutions in the financial services sector. Note: As acquisition values are not released for...

  • City of Cape Town considering 17 proposals from entrepreneurs to tackle water crisis

    As the City of Cape Town brought further water restrictions into effect on Wednesday (1 June), a city councillor has revealed that her office has so far received 17 enquiries and proposals from entrepreneurs looking to offer water-saving solutions to the city. In an emailed response on Friday to an enquiry from Ventureburn, Councillor Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, waste and water services and energy, said however that the city is not at liberty to share their personal information. "We are currently looking into all of these proposals," she added. Ventureburn understand however that one of the enquiries is from 25-year-old Grant Vanderwagen who...

  • Cape eye cover startup one of 19 firms Business Partners VC fund has backed

    Glasses don't come cheap – ask anyone who has accidentally sat on a pair or had them munched by their pet dog. It's something Leon van Vuuren is trying to solve. His Paarl-based startup Eyecover offers to insure glasses for optometrists by partnering with certified financial services providers. The business launched in March 2015 and today has 10 employees. In June last year, financiers Business Partners invested R1.8-million in EyeCover in return for a 30% stake in the company. The funding went to expand sales, marketing and distribution. "Outside of the usual statutory documents and application forms, we had to provide an...

  • Cherry-picking black industrialists not sustainable charges entrepreneur activist

    The government won’t drive radical economic transformation by simply selecting a few black entrepreneurs and backing these with support and finance, entrepreneur activist Vuyisa Qabaka said yesterday. “You’re not going to drive radical economic transformation by creating this cherry-picked, fancy, apply here,” said Qabaka, who runs business consultancy Entrepreneur Traction. He was speaking at Silicon Cape event Tech eKasi at Workshop 17. “A black industrialist is not created through an application form. It’s created through blood, sweat and tears, taking risk, and finding investors and building up. So first of all our politicians need to get their minds straight about that,” he...

  • Retired Lions rugby player’s app aims to tackle ‘administrative nightmare’

    Former Lions rugby player Dylan des Fountain is looking to solve the “administrative nightmare” that many firms face collecting and reconciling staff expense claims through a new app his tech startup is developing. For the past 12 months Des Fountain, who retired from professional rugby three years ago following several injuries, has been involved in developing the app through his startup Slipztream. “I’ve always been the type of person who is looking for solutions to any problems whatever they may be, that’s actually how Slipzstream came along,” he told Ventureburn in an exclusive interview. He credits his wife Joy, who is...

  • Former ‘beach bum’ aims to turn fog into water to address Cape crisis

    From the outset it sounds like a crazy idea. To turn fog into water. But this is exactly what high-school dropout Grant Vanderwagen from Cape Town plans to do. The 25-year-old business consultant's idea to develop fog farms to help the city to battle its water crisis has already been featured on a number of online publications (such as 9lives.co.za, htxt and even on a site for a water network based in Germany). His H20 Catchers solution consists of metal frames covered with fine netting to gather condensation. He claims each fog farm can produce up to 10 000 litres at...