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All posts by Stephen Timm: Editor

  • Chance meeting helped SA startup GetSmarter secure over $100m sale

    A chance meeting with US listed company 2U's CEO Chip Paucek in October last year set Cape Town based SA edtech startup GetSmarter on the road to being acquired by the US firm in a $103-million deal signed on Monday evening. Sam Paddock (pictured on right), who is the company's CEO, said he and his co-founder and brother Rob weren't looking to be acquired. "It became clear that joining forces would result in an organisation that could power the world's best digital education. This was too big an opportunity to pass on," he said. The deal, reported by Forbes magazine in an article yesterday includes an earn-out...

  • Q&A: FSB’s Caroline da Silva clarifies 30 June deadline on crowdfunding

    South Africa's Financial Services Board (FSB) last month revealed to Ventureburn that it had set a date of 30 June by which it plans to rule on whether to craft specific rules or not for equity crowdfunding. Since then the FSB has received a number of calls from interested parties who mistakenly believe the authority is about to release crowdfunding legislation. Read more: South Africa's FSB to rule on crowdfunding by June 30 In a Q&A with Ventureburn, FSB deputy executive officer for financial advisory & intermediary services Caroline da Silva explains what the deadline is all about and details the FSB's current approach...

  • Exclusive: Vinny Lingham to open Civic office in SA following IP rule changes

    Silicon Valley based SA entrepreneur Vinny Lingham says he plans to open an office in Cape Town to hire developers for his new startup Civic, following reforms to South Africa's Intellectual Property (IP) control regulations. "The Reserve Bank by listening to the community and making the changes (to the IP control rules) have opened it up to more foreign investments," Lingham said in a Skype call with Ventureburn from San Francisco on Friday last week. Lingham recently posted a link of Civic's Facebook account saying the startup is looking to hire in South Africa. It follows an announcement by then Minister of...

  • Questions raised over SA startup’s claim algorithm could net investors $20bn

    SA entrepreneur Stephen Larkin claims that investors could be in for "free cash" of US$20-billion if his exploration company, which uses a unique algorithm to pinpoint possible gas deposits, makes a find in Namibia's Kalahari Desert. While he's raised millions of dollars from investors and written off millions more in research costs through a number of state incentives, industry analysts remain cautious. Read more: Will South African trio's algorithm be a boon for oil sector? His UK-registered company Africa New Energies, which is expected to list on the London Stock Exchange next year, has yet to discover a single barrel of oil. Larkin...

  • ‘Computicket’s acquisition of Pretoria startup an opportunity to learn more’

    Computicket's acquisition of local company Entry Ninja is an opportunity to take on new technology and to learn more, says the Pretoria startup's co-founder Frans Jooste. "It's a lot of fun to see your product blowing up," Jooste, 29, told Ventureburn today on Computicket's purchase of the online sporting events portal. "It's like seeing your baby growing up." Computicket on Saturday announced that it has acquired the startup for an undisclosed sum. Neither Jooste or Shoprite Holdings, which owns Computicket, would disclose the amount of the deal. 'It’s a lot of fun to see your product blowing up' Jooste said the startup was...

  • SA downgrade ‘nearly irrelevant’ to startups – Michael Jordaan

    South Africa’s downgrade to junk status earlier this month by two rating agencies may have depressed Michael Jordaan, one of the country's most respected venture capital (VC) investors, but he believes the downgrade is "nearly irrelevant" to startups. "In this tough economic climate it is useful that one of the advantages of startups as opposed to big business is that the macro economics are nearly irrelevant as it is far more important for the startup to first succeed in its narrowly defined micro-market," said Jordaan in an email to Ventureburn. However, in a wide-ranging interview, the former head of First National Bank, now the...

  • 6 artificial intelligence startups in Africa to look out for [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. In this piece we take a look at some interesting African startups involved in developing artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. DataProphet South African startup DataProphet last year received a significant investment of an undisclosed amount from Yellowwoods Capital Holdings to expand its international offering. As part of the deal, DataProphet will act as the advanced analytics partner for the group. The...

  • We lost R200k to wrong developers, Shark Tank startup tells Fuckup Nights

    They may have secured R400 000 from two investors on SA TV show Shark Tank last year, but Jason Newmark and Chelsea Evans learnt a hard lesson when they recently lost R200 000 on tech developers. Speaking at a Fuckup Nights event held in Cape Town on Wednesday, Newmark and Evans, co-founders of wedding planning site Plan My Wedding, detailed how choosing the wrong website developers also set them back a year. The monthly event, in which entrepreneurs detail their biggest failures, was hosted by co-working space Cape Town Office at the Canterbury Club. "We ended up spending R200k on developers we...

  • ‘I couldn’t sleep for three years,’ Nigerian entrepreneur tells Fuckup Nights event

    Nigerian entrepreneur Dayo Elegbe was feeling good. He’d worked with big names in the UK and his latest idea to give away a car on a Nigerian game show looked like a money spinner. Little did he know that he was one move away from losing thousands of dollars. "I couldn't sleep for three years. I had crazy insomnia," says Elegbe, recalling his biggest failure in business, at a Fuckup Nights event held at the Canterbury Club in Cape Town last night. The monthly event, in which entrepreneurs detail their biggest failures, was hosted by co-working space Cape Town Office. Elegbe, founder...

  • SEC ban puts brakes on equity crowdfunding in Nigeria – report

    The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Nigeria's ban on equity crowdfunding "is seriously slowing down" the introduction of crowdfunding in the country, says a new report. The Crowdfunding Potential for Nigeria report released last month by the Crowdfunding Hub, says crowdfunding has significant potential in the country, but that the SEC's ban issued in August last year has stifled the setting up of crowdfunding platforms. The SEC believes that crowdfunding cannot be effective in Nigeria for now because of a lack of rules. Donation and reward-based crowdfunding are however excluded from the SEC’s regulatory remit. This is despite a fast-evolving banking system which...