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All posts by Stephen Timm: Editor

  • With corporates you gotta have patience of saint – Sensor Networks founder [Q&A]

    Startups must have the patience of a saint when doing business with corporates. So, says Sensor Networks founder Mark Allewell, whose Cape Town startup last week announced that it had secured another round of funding, of R13-million from various local funders. His company is currently working with five insurance companies to roll out its Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. "From my experience, sometimes it’s good to be brutally honest with corporate people that you deal with, as they are people as well and if the relationship can’t take criticism, then it’s not worth having that relationship," adds Allewell (pictured above). And he should know. Before Sensor Networks he'd started and...

  • Seedstars mulls expansion of co-working offering Seedspace in Nigeria [Q&A]

    Seedstars, a Swiss-based organisation that supports startups in emerging markets, is looking to "analyse" the possibility of expanding its co-working offering Seedspace within Nigeria, Romulo Navarrete, head of operations at Seedspace, a Seedstars initiative has revealed. Seedspace currently has seven hubs, with three of these located in Africa -- in Lagos, Nigeria; Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Cape Town, South Africa. "In terms of the best-performing (Seedspace) hub (in Africa), I'd say Seedspace Lagos is by far the best and this might be because of the potential that Nigeria has an entrepreneurial ecosystem and also because in Lagos we deploy pretty much all our Seedstars activities,"...

  • How Moroccan entrepreneur chose SA to launch wearable security device Seon

    When Moroccan entrepreneur Samia Haimoua and her three German co-founders of startup Seon were looking for a country to launch their wearable panic button, they chose South Africa over Morocco. More specifically they chose Cape Town. The four, who launched the startup in July last year, expect to begin selling their security device to Cape Town residents later this month and are also in talks with a ride-sharing company. When activated the device sends a call for help via the user's cellphone to the nearest security officials. Seon promises users reaction times of no more than five minutes and Haimoua claims that in tests the startup has...

  • Sensor Networks nets new funding round of R13-million to expand IoT products

    Just months after securing funding from 4Di Capital, Cape Town based Internet of Things (IoT) platform Sensor Networks has secured a further round of investment -- of R13-million, from 4Di Capital, Sanari Capital, which led the round and The Asisa ESD Fund, managed by Edge Growth. The current round of funding -- which follows a smaller round of investment that the startup announced in August last year -- is for expansion capital and new-product development. Sensor Networks founder Mark Allewell (pictured above with his team, fourth from left) told Ventureburn today that the funding would help expand the three-year old startup's B2B products which it...

  • Five years on SA man behind ‘$20bn Namibia gas field’ yet to sink test wells

    Over five years since founding his energy company, a SA-born entrepreneur who claims that he can make millions of rands off using drones and special algorithms to find gas in the Namibian desert, has yet to start sinking test wells. This, while he says he has turned down a $500-million Chinese investment, decided against listing and insists he never said he would frack. In April last year London-based Stephen Larkin claimed that investors could be in for “free cash” of $20-billion if Africa New Energy, which uses a unique algorithm to pinpoint possible gas deposits, makes a find in Namibia’s Kalahari Desert. The Namibian government has awarded...

  • Private equity fund Africinvest to launch VC fund targeting startups on continent

    Tunisia-based private equity fund AfricInvest is busy raising funds to launch a €120-million fund to invest in innovative new ventures across the continent, a top official at the company has revealed. Speaking to Ventureburn last week, AfricInvest VC director Selma Ribica said the fund would target "successful startups" from any sector, from across the continent, using AfricInvest's various other offices across the continent, namely: Tunis, Lagos, Abidjan, Nairobi, Cairo, Algiers and Casablanca. "It is aimed to be first truly African fund with offices in North, East, and West Africa and we aim to raise €120-million," said Ribica. The idea, she said is to help startup...

  • How Seedstars competition helped put these SA startups on the map

    It's been two years since SA startup Giraffe was crowned the 2016 Seedstars World winner, scoring equity investment of an undisclosed amount and putting the company on the radar of local and international investors. Last month the Johannesburg startup, which runs a web platform that matches job seekers with job placements, announced a second round of funding led by Edge Growth. Giraffe CEO Anish Shivdasani told Ventureburn this week that winning the South African leg of the competition generated media interest which culminated in the startup's first round of finance led by Omidyar shortly after winning the SA leg. Read more: Giraffe receives undisclosed seed funding from Omidyar Network Read...

  • Tap wisdom of others and have fun says Michael Jordaan in talk on leadership

    Good leaders are those that are able to tap and best utilise the wisdom of those around them. So, says venture capitalist and former FNB head Michael Jordaan. "The thing I learnt (while heading First National Bank between  2004 and 2013) is that if you can get the wisdom out of the best people in the room, that is quite amazing. "That also puts the conventional wisdom on its head -- that the leader is meant to know everything, that the leader is supposed to know the answer," says Jordaan, who today invests in startups through his venture capital (VC) company Montegray Capital. Jordaan...

  • Uprise.Africa mulls 80 projects for equity crowdfunding, as Drifter raise hits R3m [Updated]

    SA equity crowdfunding platform Uprise.Africa is conducting due diligence work on 80 potential campaigns, the platform's marketing officer Inge Prins revealed today. It follows an announcement by the platform earlier today that with still 3o days left of its campaign, local brewers the Drifter Brewing Company has met its goal of raising R3-million from South African private investors. The R3-million has been raised from 129 local investors. Prins told Ventureburn today that the platform has received a "big stack" of applications and that about 80 applications were in the due diligence stage currently. Most of these are from organisations and entrepreneurs in Johannesburg, Cape Town and other...

  • Investors biased towards expat founders says American behind Kenya’s M-Shule

    Foreign investors who invest in African startups are biased towards funding expat founders, says a US-born entrepreneur running an edtech startup in Kenya. Claire Mongeau, who is originally from Boston in the US and is the co-founder of M-Shule, reasons that what is behind the bias is that many foreign investors favour entrepreneurs that pitch and hold meetings "like they do". "There is a big challenge when it comes to startups in many places in Africa, that the funding and the investment is very often coming from outside -- from US or European investors -- and I think they have a bias definitely towards those that look and...

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