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Entrepreneurship

  • Net Prophet: Africa is a sea of opportunity

    Free coffee, wi-fi and pumping music tunes was how more than 800 tech geeks, freaks, entrepreneurs and industry leaders were greeted at the Net Prophet Conference in Cape Town on Thursday. With an impressive line-up of speakers and the sense of a growing tech community in the Silicon Cape, it was no surprise to see a packed and enthusiastic auditorium at Old Mutual Park. Speakers included Erik Hersman, co-founder of Ushahidi.com, and Mocality.com CEO Stefan Magdalinski, who shared insights on mobile and internet innovation in Africa -- and how South African entrepreneurs in particular are well-placed to take advantage of...

  • Where is SA’s entrepreneurial spirit?

    Economically, America is almost three times larger than its nearest rival, and despite its size, it is one of the most productive economies in the world. This begs the question: What makes America the most successful economy the world has ever witnessed? The obvious reasons don’t provide us with a ready explanation though. What about education? Education is the ultimate driver of development, so surely America must have the best education system in the world. The reality is that, especially at the primary and secondary levels, many other countries have far better education systems than America. What about manufacturing? At the heart...

  • The startup way: 10 web tools we use

    When building a startup venture, small teams come up against several tough challenges. One being, how to deliver a lot of work in a little time, and how is this achievable with almost no budget? Luckily, these pains have been recognised by many great services that help small businesses punch above their weight. In a startup environment, inefficiencies are punished more than anywhere else. After getting Personera off the ground, our team has learnt some lessons in selecting the right tool for the job at hand. Here are 10 online tools we use regularly and have come to love. Communication Gmail: Yes,...

  • A business lesson: Go where the sardines are

    We are lucky in technology, because many other industries can only grow linearly and so that growth is a massive, long term effort that results in businesses like General Electric. The interesting thing is that even though we have the ability to scale with tech, a lot of people building businesses in tech try to build businesses in verticals that have no inherent potential for scale, or at least not enough to get to profitability before the runway cash is spent. They underestimate the sales effort required, overcook technical requirements, avoid the cold hard problem of "What's in it for...

  • Fear of failure is robbing South Africa of great thinkers

    Fear is the greatest energy sapper. Fear of failure, fear of ridicule and fear that things might never happen as you would like them to. As someone wisely said, fear is also the parent of cruelty. Cruelty to yourself. With fear paralysis sets in, and failure, which is so necessary for rapid innovation, is lost. Find your own way by getting things done. An idea does not have to be crafted into perfection to be worthy of an audience. In fact, the mere act of speaking it will allow it to emerge as better than it currently is. Ideas are...

  • 7 tips for starting up small

    There's no formula for guaranteeing the success of a startup and each new venture comes with its own story and own personal ideas of how to make it work. Still, there are some commonalities that you can learn from and prepare to encounter before heading into the great unknown. Here are seven simple and easy things to watch out for before and during the first few months of your startup's life, particularly if you're starting up without an investment or strategy partner. 1. The younger you are, the better If you have an idea for a startup but are not inclined...

  • Establishing your international startup anywhere

    There’s been a growing trend for startups to base themselves anywhere and have their employees scattered across the world, and in the process erase the concept of the old-school HQ. This trend seems to be even more prevalent for startups that operate online, with the WordPress/Automattic team being a great example. Over at WooThemes, our team is scattered across five different countries and we have a central office (which houses half of the team) in Cape Town, South Africa. Our whole business is online and we’re able to manage all of our daily activities from the comfort of our chosen...

  • Startups: What VCs look for

    Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs often don't see eye-to-eye, and in South Africa in particular, there seems to be a very real gap in meeting the needs and expectations of both parties. While we know the path of the entrepreneur can be a frightfully fun but rocky one, at some stage venture capital becomes a real option to consider, and when you get to that stage, make sure you know exactly what we are looking for. As funders, we really look for four basic things and your pitch must answer the following: 1. What is the burning need you are taking away?...

  • 10 easy ways to fail as an entrepreneur

    Many people dream of starting their own businesses and becoming financially independent, but while the idea of organising and operating your own business venture may be thrilling, there’s a good chance that your fledgling company won’t survive unless you identify potential pitfalls and plan to circumnavigate them. Here are 10 ways that you could fail as an entrepreneur: 1. Poor market research Make sure there’s a need for your product or service. Ideally, your offering should be unique and fill a gap in the market, but if there’s already competition in your intended sector, research ways to position yourself uniquely to improve...

  • 10 lessons for tech startups

    Having been involved in a number of web and tech startups from Vottle.com to a VoIP mobile startup under the auspices of Internet Solutions' ISLabs, I have been lucky enough to have worked with some very bright entrepreneurs, and have learnt some valuable lessons along the way. From Two-Minute noodles, to Darwin, to Ham-and-Egging, here are my 10 lessons for founders. 1. The Boot: Almost every business can be bootstrapped to start, and should be. Not even Google needed outside financing for its first couple of years. Superstar entrepreneurs have an uncanny knack of making money go...