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Entrepreneurship

  • Six ways “Young World” entrepreneurs are changing the business landscape

    A lot has been written about the “digital generation” – the cohort that grew up marinated in high tech, and whose worldview reflects their constant exposure to information, communication and collaboration, media and multitasking.  But the greatest impact this generation is having on the world is when they have a blank canvas to start their own businesses – and nowhere is this felt more profoundly than in those parts of the world where young people are most numerous: emerging economies. Over the past two years, I’ve been studying the most innovative young entrepreneurs on five continents and observing how the values of...

  • Startup tips from Mark Shuttleworth

    South Africa is the best place to become successful says Mark Shuttleworth, who made it big when he skidded over twenty and then promptly became a billionaire by selling Thawte to Verisign for some R3.5-billion. “The fact that South Africa doesn’t have a Silicon Valley shouldn’t deter anyone from being an entrepreneur in South Africa,” he says. “The existence of Silicon Valley is held up as a reason for California’s success with technology. The simple fact is that there were a bunch of people there who had the confidence and the audaciousness to start stuff, so it has become a...

  • Does Mark Zuckerberg need adult supervision?

    Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, is just 26 and has done very well but his young age does often show itself in various ways. He's put his foot in his mouth several times over privacy and has had mixed reviews on his performance in high profile interviews. Here is Chris Pirillo: "Things didn't go well for Mark Zuckerberg when he appeared on the D8 stage two days ago. From all angles, he appeared to...

  • Manifesto for web startup entrepreneurs

    I’m going to apologise up front. These aren’t all original thoughts - are original thoughts still possible? I read voraciously online and I am pretty convinced that all that reading has helped inform this list. And no, I’m not going to get into the semantics about exactly what a “startup” is right now. 1. Think global You are not going to become rich building an online business solely focused on the South African market. Read that again. You will not become rich. Despite what you think now, in order to become wildly successful, you have to build an online business that...

  • The Stuart Ntlathi story: A hope-filled prophecy for entrepreneurs in Africa

    High profile speakers, animated presentations, and the occasional F-bomb on stage all characterised the proceedings at what is fast-becoming one of South Africa’s hottest tech conferences. Net Prophet, a free one-day conference established by the RAMP Foundation last year as a means of social investment to debate and grow the local Internet economy, attracted about 800 people from all walks of life. This year’s line-up included Erik Hersman (Ushahidi), Vinny Lingham (Yola), Adriaan Pienaar (WooThemes), Stefan Magdalinski (Mocality), Richard Mulholland (Missing Link), Patrick Kayton (Cognician), Sarah Lacy (TechCrunch), Stephen Newton (ex-Google SA), Stephan Ekbergh (TravelStart), Stuart Ntlathi (SNSET), and Arthur...

  • 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...