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Entrepreneurship

  • 5 ways startups can cash in on the emerging markets wave

    Africa is the final frontier. The subject rose quickly on CNBC after the Wall Street downturn. It has also been a major topic on the World Economic Forums on Africa's agenda since 2007. While consumers were buying less in established developed markets, finding new consumers meant taking advantage: Emerging markets have over three billion people startups can target. At the very least, most people have mobile phone access. At best, disposable income on average is on the rise like never before, according to McKinsey, a global management consulting company. So how do you take advantage? 5 ways start here: Be...

  • 7 things you should know before launching your startup

    Startups are a tricky business to get right and it's clear why most fail. For Henk Kleynhans, knowing how to price his product correctly was the number one need when he launched Skyrove. At the time of launch, the internet junkie was committed to the idea that there must be a better and cheaper way for internet to be available everywhere. Today, Skyrove is South Africa’s largest independent Wi-Fi hotspot network with over 600 Wi-Fi hotspots in South Africa. Here are seven things he wished he knew before he launched his startup. 1. Think Local First. From day one...

  • 4 ways to still be effective during holiday leave

    Looking to log-off but stay connected this holiday season? Whether you’re going to be travelling locally or abroad, working from home, or having a "Staycation" we’ve got four ways for you to make your time out of the office seem as if you haven’t missed a beat. As much as we love to deny it, today’s generation of online professionals are workaholics. We wake up and check our emails over our morning coffee, we monitor our projects on our lunch break, we network after work, and we tweet our industry news while brushing our teeth. The concept of an eight-hour workday...

  • Scaling: Don’t become a victim of your own success

    A common issue with online startups is that they only start thinking about scalability once their site goes down. Many of the big startups also experience this phenomenon (e.g Twitter, Tumbler). They take note and spring into action only once the issue has occurred, which almost always has a detrimental effect on the user experience. Unexepected traffic spikes that could be generated by something as simple as a post on a reputable tech news site can bring your site to its knees almost instantaneously. In that brief moment of fame, your site crashes and all those potential new readers/customers/fans...

  • What a startup can learn from a restaurant menu

    It's often said that one of the biggest challenges for an entrepreneur is focus. Naturally, this is coupled with multiple challenges like cash flow, growth management, and your general sanity. It's also said that the great thing about being an entrepreneur is the freedom that comes with it. However, that freedom is largely illusionary unless you are running a lifestyle company or you've hit the megabucks early. Most entrepreneurs find themselves shackled by other responsibilities: Responsibility for the talent in the organisation, strategic direction of the company, trying to build more with less, the demanding pace of the new startup...

  • Developing a great idea into a business

    Being able to make something doesn’t mean you’re an entrepreneur, being able to make a business out of it does. I’ve met many great developers across Africa, some who would be considered "top of the class" in any country in the world. Unfortunately, some confuse starting a company for running a business. It’s easy to get a legal entity, a company name and even a prototype out into the market. It’s hard to earn money off of that idea, even enough to make it self-sustaining, much less profitable. I can think of a couple reasons why this might be. Sometimes I...

  • Can entrepreneurship be taught?

    For decades, entrepreneurship has been viewed as something risky and mysterious that only a few lucky mavericks could master. This perception has been fuelled by a public reverence for successful individuals, who seem to have had no formal training to which their entrepreneurial success could be attributed. Some educational institutions have also shunned or quashed entrepreneurship as a non-discipline, something unteachable and incongruous with traditional discipline-based courses. Whilst the significance of entrepreneurship for a country’s economy is rarely disputed, the much-debated question is whether entrepreneurship is an elusive and exclusive "talent" that is inherent in some, or whether it can...

  • Yammer founder on PayPal: Understanding the power of virality…

    I spent an evening last week with the founders of the private social network Yammer, Box.net, and Zendesk, and I wanted to share a conversation I had with Yammer co-founder David Sacks and his pedigree at PayPal. I have a fascination with PayPal and its alumni because they have gone on to build and invest in some of Silicon Valley's top companies: YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Zynga and many more. Here's a partial list of...

  • Why Angel funding is killing innovation

    I'm a fan of Max Levchin and his fellow Paypal alumni because this group has spent the past five years creating many of the more interesting Silicon Valley startups. Levchin recently sold Slide to Google and he is an investor in Yelp and several other startups. And he is still young and has a lot more to add to his Wikipedia page before he is done. Levchin writes on his blog, but only very...

  • How to find the right lawyer for your startup

    Choosing a tech-savvy lawyer for your startup isn't easy, but it's critical that you find the right person. Not all-self proclaimed web startup lawyers are equal, and some can do more harm than good. Figuring out how code and law fit together requires a great deal of curiosity and experience, and an ability to see the big picture. You will often find 21st-century lawyers playing with new technologies that don't have an obvious business case for lawyers, yet. They are just curious. The best lawyers for startups that I know move easily between worlds; helping non-profits that fight for a...