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All posts by Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas is a product of Rhodes University. Whilst completing his Bachelors in Journalism, Politics and English, he realised he was a bit of a geek, albeit one who isn't afraid of the sun. An honors in English at the same institution failed to curb this. An MA in South African Literature, only made it worse as it gave him even more hours to spend in front of a computer screen. He hopes to go viral one day.
  • No surprise: funding the biggest hurdle for SA’s startups

    Over the past couple of years, there have been plenty of funding successes for the South African startup scene to celebrate. Just this year, WooThemes exited to WordPress holding company Automattic for a rumoured US$30-million and bike radar company iKubu was bought out by Garmin for an undisclosed sum of money. But within the context of the space as a whole, those big deals are few and far between. What about the smaller companies? Is there enough funding for them to survive and thrive in a country that isn't always seen as friendly toward small businesses? The results of the 2015 Ventureburn...

  • M4JAM appoints WeChat, Tencent big guns to board of directors

    South African micro-jobbing service M4JAM has appointed a couple of big hitters -- in the shape of Brett Loubser, head of WeChat Africa, and Poshu Yeung, general manager of international business at Tencent -- to its board of directors. In a press release issued to Ventureburn by the company, it says that the two "will work closely with other board members to bolster M4JAM’s disruptive business model to be a global success". Involving both does make sense, given that M4JAM's service is predominantly WeChat-based. Being able to tap directly into the mind of a Tencent executive (the company owns WeChat)...

  • Candystick: this new SA startup wants to help you crowdfund gifts, occassions

    Let's say you're getting married and that you've asked your guests for money so that you can buy something big. They could bring cash, but that's not safe or they could transfer the money into your bank account, but then it doesn't feel like much of a gift. A new South African startup called Candystick is aiming to fix that. Candystick's primary product is called Candybox, which the company describes as an "online money box where your friends, family, colleagues or anyone else can contribute towards an occasion or a group gift". According to the company, the service can be...

  • Mobicred now allows you to pay off your concert tickets online

    This is pretty interesting. South African online credit startup Mobicred has teamed up with online ticket seller Nutickets, meaning that you can now pay off tickets for big-cost events rather than shelling out the full amount in one go. Founded in 2013, Mobicred has been baked into a number of local ecommerce sites, using algorithms to determine a person's credit-worthiness. It costs about as much as your average middle of the road credit card offered by a traditional bank and is meant to appeal both to people afraid of using a traditional credit card and for those looking for...

  • New UNICEF-backed platform looking to crowdsource innovation

    A new platform has launched with the aim of crowdsourcing innovative solutions to the world's most pressing problems. Called CauseTech, the platform comes out of a partnership between the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network and UNICEF Innovation Center. It aim is to aggregate the world’s best innovators, technologists, developers, and researchers in a global ideation ecosystem to start finding unique ways of addressing some of the biggest challenges currently facing the planet. As well as connecting groups of people who might otherwise not have contact with each other, the platform will play host to a...

  • Why Automattic’s WooThemes acquisition is so important to South Africa’s startup space

    The acquisition of WordPress theme developer WooThemes, along with its signature ecommerce product WooCommerce, by WordPress.com holding company Automattic is massively important to the South African startup space. At US$30-million, it's a massive exit (although not the biggest in South African startup history). That's great for its founders and investors, but the acquisition is just another example of how the local scene is developing and also offers some valuable lessons for up-and-coming startups. Before we get into any of that though, it's worth getting into some of the nitty-gritty around the acquisition. According to Re/Code, sources the deal is...

  • Is the office out of fashion? New survey suggests it might be

    Whether it’s to save on costs, or just to avoid the pain of having to go into an office, it seems that South African entrepreneurs have a thing for working from home. In fact, if preliminary findings from the 2015 Ventureburn Startup Survey are anything to go by, then home is the number one choice when it comes to workspaces for fledgling tech companies. This finding is in line with the history of some of the world’s most successful startups, some of who have started in kitchens, home offices and garages. Just look no further than Mark Shuttleworth -- the...

  • Dentsu Aegis’ John Brown buyout shows how the digital agency model is changing

    Global advertising mega-conglomerate Dentsu Aegis has acquired content marketing specialist John Brown Media for an undisclosed sum of money. John Brown Media was established in 1987 and has 225 staff throughout its London headquarters and offices in South Africa, Hong Kong and Dubai. While the agency initially made its name producing magazines for a number of high profile retail clients, it has made solid advances in the digital space, where it offers digital publishing, content management, website strategy, SEO, SEM and digital media buying services. According to a press release issued by Dentsu Aegis, John Brown Media will...

  • SW7 teams up with Standard Bank, Microsoft Bizspark team up to launch ‘blue chip’ accelerator

    South African startup incubator SW7 has teamed up with Standard Bank and Microsoft Bizspark to launch a new accelerator to the recently-opened Standard Bank Incubator in Rosebank, Johannesburg. The partnership comes less than a year after SW7 first opened its doors and just months after Standard Bank launched its Playroom innovation hub. “We are very excited to launch this initiative with Standard Bank. Getting the support of the leading bank in Africa will help us a lot with the challenges around gaining access to market and raising funding, both within the community and for the high growth businesses” says...

  • Realmdigital founder Wesley Lynch steps down as CEO to concentrate on Snapplify

    Realmdigital founder Wesley Lynch has stepped down as CEO the company confirmed in a statement today. The news comes shortly in the wake of AngelHub and former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan leading an investment round into Lynch's e-publishing startup Snapplify. While Lynch will remain onboard as chairman of the agency he founded 16 years ago, his energies will now shift to Snapplify, where he remains CEO. "The timing is right, for both companies, for this strategic leadership shift," Lynch said in the statement. "Realmdigital is expanding more rapidly than ever and the opportunities for growth are plentiful, which...