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Entrepreneurship

  • The failed startup: a narrow-minded view [opinion]

    Recently, I published an article about 17 South African startups to watch out for 2017. The piece included a range of well-known companies that achieved some pretty amazing things in 2016, such as Zoona, OfferZen, and Rainfin. Among those included was micro-jobbing platform M4JAM, which had to be sold last year. Apparently, this has caused some consternation among a few readers. I think it's time to add in my two cents to this topic. What spurred me on to write this opinion piece was the culmination of two tweets by the same author (and without mentioning names in order to avoid...

  • Why don’t more entrepreneurs have a disaster recovery plan?

    Your business depends on its IT infrastructure to exist, even if you’re in a more traditional industry. You’re relying on computers, mobile devices, spreadsheets, documents, and mass stores of data to keep your business running effectively. Have you thought about what might happen if everything was suddenly wiped out? What if a fire took out the majority of your physical storage devices? What if a cyber criminal was able to seize control of your servers and hold them hostage? A real threat As many as 50 percent of small businesses have been breached in some way within the last 12 months,...

  • The rise of the remote workforce: A South African perspective

    With the rise of broadband technology and a global move towards the pursuit of a healthy work/life balance, the number of employees working remotely has increased exponentially over the past couple of decades. Studies have conclusively shown that this more flexible approach to enterprise has had an enormously positive impact on employee engagement, enabling greater productivity and saving costs to both businesses and their workforce. Despite the evident success of this worldwide trend, South African enterprises have been rather slow in keeping pace, with relatively few organisations implementing structures conducive to working remotely. While it seems counterintuitive when considering international...

  • How entrepreneurs can think like venture capitalists

    As an entrepreneur involved with two highly successful full-stack technology businesses, I spent fifteen years curiously wondering how venture capitalists make decisions. When I wasn’t focused on delivering value to customers and employees, I focused on how I could demonstrate that value to VCs in order to raise capital. Often the process felt like it was shrouded in mystery—conjuring images of tribal gatherings, Shark Tank-like voting sessions and perhaps an Ouija board or two. Even after I secured capital with several of the best firms, I still felt like an element of luck was involved. Now that I find myself on...

  • What makes hubs successful?

    For the past two weeks, I have been based at Impact Hub Accra to assist the team with business development as well as conducting research as part of my master’s in African Studies at Leiden University. As similar hubs continue to emerge across the continent, I seek to investigate the role hubs and innovation centres play in facilitating the pathways of its members. To explore this I have chosen to use Impact Hub Accra as a unique case study. My research focuses on how this particular hub advocates the trajectories of entrepreneurs, notably ‘social’ entrepreneurs. I will spend the next...

  • Is your startup ready for flextime?

    If you're looking for ways to raise productivity and reduce overhead at your startup, you might have come across the term 'flextime'. This is a concept in which workers are offered the option of flexible hours and increased opportunities for telecommuting in an office setting. The employee is primarily in charge of setting his or her own hours, with management approval. Flextime is often used in corporate settings to raise productivity and employee morale. Firms and their staff have found it to be an efficient strategy, and many startups are encouraged to adopt the pattern. The policy is an appealing company...

  • 3 things to consider before expanding into China

    Trust. That's the No. 1 reason customers try out new stores according to a joint report by Retail Week and international law firm Pinsent Masons. Now, think about asking customers in a different corner of the world to buy what you're selling. Trust, then, becomes an even bigger selling point. For many entrepreneurs, expanding internationally is just a matter of logistics. Setting up a business location, hiring employees, getting a production chain going, finding people who know the language -- these are considered chief difficulties when moving your business to another part of the globe. However, the entrepreneurs who think this...

  • Entrepreneurial success creates a domino effect

    In the last couple of decades, the world has seen an explosion of creative entrepreneurs come up with innovative business solutions, but few entrepreneurs have transformed the way the world does business online like Elon Musk and Lou Montulli. Elon Musk kick-started global ecommerce trust with Paypal In the world of ecommerce, you could have the greatest payment system in the world but unless people trust it, they're not going to use it. People expect online merchants to use the best methods to keep their personal information safe and protected from data breaches, like the one Target experienced in 2013 that affected...

  • How to get more out of the local startup ecosystem

    Creating a startup is one of the hardest things that anyone can undertake and finding support used to be a daunting task. However, that has changed over the past few years with more and more resources cropping up for entrepreneurs. During the recent Techstars-4-A-Day event, which was held at the Rise hub in Cape Town, four panellists spoke about the local ecosystem and how entrepreneurs can leverage information from it. Barclays Rise and its focus on fintech The ecosystem manager for Barclays Rise in Africa, Camilla Swart, opened with a few words about the organisation as well as what it looks to...

  • 6 tips from SA startup pros on raising funding

    Funding your startup is one of, if not the most crucial part of creating the company. While bootstrapping may be ideal for a number of entrepreneurs, it isn't always possible, meaning they will need to raise money from VCs or Angels in order to get things off the ground. Like anything related to humans, it's possible for entrepreneurs to jepordise their chances of actually raising funding. At the recent Techstars-4-A-Day event, which was held at the Rise hub in Cape Town, Alexandra 'Alex' Fraser (Silicon Cape) and one of the founders of Yoco, Carl Wazen, gave the audience some tips...