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  • 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...

  • Rebooting innovation in South Africa

    Since I became the United States Ambassador to South Africa last October, I have met truly inspiring South Africans with great ideas almost every day.  I have been very impressed with South Africans’ ability to link abstract knowledge and real-world application. With such talent, it seems natural that this beautiful, vibrant country should become a global innovation hub for the 21st century. Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan emphasised in his 2010 Budget Speech that “successful developmental states are built not just through public policy and state action, but also through national identity, social cohesion and responsible citizenship - through building social capital that reinforces trust and co-operation, in the...

  • Can entrepreneurs thrive in corporate settings?

    Does working for a company preclude an individual from being an entrepreneur? Most certainly not; indeed, some of the best innovations and developments are achieved by people who are working for large corporations. The difference is that within these organisations, entrepreneurship – and critical thinking - is actively encouraged, not only in the research and development departments, but in the managerial suites too. With the global economy slowly coming out of a...

  • Opening speech @ #SiliconCape

    Here is the text of the speech I gave at the opening of Silicon Cape in Camps Bay. I'm not alone in saying that this was an inspiring and well-supported event. Welcome everyone and thank you all for coming. A special welcome to the Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, Dr Mamphela Ramphele and Mr Johann Rupert. It’s an absolute honour and it’s humbling to be speaking in front of such an important gathering...

  • A short word on innovation

    Innovation in a business context is one of the most misunderstood concepts around. I have to admit that I've misunderstood it for most of my life too. I've grown to realise that ideas by themselves are pretty much worthless -- and innovation really arises out of a process of execution of those ideas that tests and combines other ideas, technologies and theories. It's common sense really. It's why Venture Capitalists will rarely invest...

  • The surprising science of motivation

    Fascinating TED talk on what motivates people in companies, challenging traditional notions of management. Very relevant to many online companies who are looking at building new and different cultures. (via Wendy Robb @ 20fourlabs)

  • Sequoia Capital on startups and the economic downturn

    This presentation from famous Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm, Sequoia Capital, is a must-see. It explains the effects of the economic downturn on venture capital and internet startups. The news obviously isn't good, as investors will shun typically risky online startups, unless they are entities that can turn faster, if not immediate, profits. There’s quite a bit of information on what went wrong in the economy, why the recovery is going to take...

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