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Featured

  • 14 tech startups from emerging markets onto something big

    This year, for Ventureburn and all the other tech blogs covering startup scenes, we've seen an exciting crop of talent show face. From major ecommerce moves to exciting health technologies and crowdsourced design platforms, below we've rounded-up some of the ones that have stood out to us showing the most potential. HealthQ The Stellenbosch-based startup HealthQ is onto something really big. After introducing the world’s first open source metabolic chamber a few years ago, it has now industrialised the LifeQ technology, which can track your metabolism, heart rate and blood pressure among other world-class things. Co-founder Riaan Conradie has also been invited...

  • Ventureburn goes behind the scenes on SA Florist’s Dragons’ Den deal

    When it was announced that the international phenomenon that is Dragons' Den was coming to South Africa, I for one was sceptical about how much value it could really add to the country's entrepreneurial landscape. It is, after all, an entertainment show and its success depends on its ability to keep people watching. That said, it was always clear that there was intrinsic value for the entrepreneurs who did actually manage to get funding, if only because of the cash injection it would provide. Meeting SA Florist founders Nicholas Wallander and Fraser Black, however, it's obvious that the power of...

  • Making millionaires: the developers who won big in Gyft’s Silicon Valley exit

    "Gyft was mostly built out of Cape Town," Vinny Lingham told the audience at a recent Silicon Cape event where a big funding announcement was made. The announcement was hailed as the financial commitment that would change everything for the Western Cape's startup ecosystem. But the ecosystem is already changing. It began changing when the early stage employees of Gyft found out about the startup's exit worth more than US$50-million. Why? Because the developers based in Cape Town were given share options in the company. Five out of eight of Gyft's developers are South African and are all founding members of...

  • What startups may come: a look at Silicon Savannah in Kenya

    "How would you like to pay?", a cashier at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport asks me. "M-Pesa or cash?" she continues as I try to gather my thoughts. And then it hits me -- this is Kenya, where mobile payment works and is everywhere. This is Africa's hub of innovation. The technology ecosystem here works and unlike Nigeria, the fragments are better held together. So I have decided to spend some time getting to know the ecosystem and the startups and components that make it tick. Welcome to the world of startups Nairobi is quite something, from the airport to the city...

  • Disrupt everything: 11 exciting Kenyan startups worth your time right now

    We love Kenya. So much so that we recently headed to the East African country for some fun times with startups. Ahead of the trip, we thought we would list some noteworthy startups. How do you pick 11 great startups to write about? You reach out to the community. And the community delivered. By no means is this the definite list of Kenyan startups, but these are ones our community loves. Kenya has long been at the forefront of tech innovation in Africa and we are excited to get more involved in that community, so please tell us which startups you...

  • VoiceMap app: a platform for storytellers to give personalised location-aware tour guides

    The Revolution Route, one of the routes on VoiceMap, begins at the Grand Parade, right at the bottom of the statue of Edward VII, in front of Cape Town City Hall. It is here, amongst homeless men and women lying around in the hot sun, that Iain Manley and Lauren Edwards from VoiceMap and I begin to take the walk. Gael Reagan, the storyteller, is a legendary journalist and activist. She begins by telling the history of the Grand Parade, City Hall and, in part, the history of South Africa. The story is historical and this divorces it from the...

  • Many fragments of a whole: unmasking Nigeria’s tech industry

    "Things don't work like that here," someone in the audience responds as Gareth Knight, founder of popular tech conference Tech4Africa, talks about the need to learn on your feet. There seems to be an underlying negativity when it comes to the tech ecosystem in Nigeria. There's a sense that it will always be a struggle and a hustle; one with no glorifying future in sight. I am at lunch with three startups: one has a solid footing in the market and is well on its way to becoming an SME, another tried a few things but reckons this new thing...

  • Nifty250: the photo printing startup making a name (and profit) on social media

    It sounds like the kind of pitch that would leave any investor with a disbelieving smile and a pile of cash stashed safely in a bank account that isn't yours. You want to start an online social photo printing service? In South Africa? A country which has a tiny ecommerce industry and less than a million Instagram users -- because the most-owned smartphone (BlackBerry) doesn’t even support the hipster app? Ha. Next, please. It sounds crazy, but it’s working for Nifty250. The Cape Town-based startup is a self-funded printing service which is not only scraping by, but making a profit...

  • Are we beginning to over-indulge, over-romanticise and over-glamorise failure?

    This week, I read a very insightful piece in the Guardian about failure and the culture of failure that currently exists in Silicon Valley. In the startup community, the concept of failure has both positive and negative connotations depending on what continent or country you are in. The Guardian's piece talks about Silicon Valley's need to not just invoke failure but celebrate it as well. The oft repeated phrase most entrepreneurs have begun to live by is: "Fail fast, fail often." "Entrepreneurs give speeches detailing their misfires. Academics laud the virtue of making mistakes. FailCon, a conference about 'embracing failure',...

  • Anatomy of a pivot: the story of Fora, a startup that never was

    When I was in Nigeria a few months ago, I got the distinct feeling that education startups were the new hot ticket for young tech entrepreneurs. One of them wanted to build an online university, another wanted to provide a test platform for standardised tests and Fora wanted to give Africans access to the best possible education online. Today, Fora is dead. When I met the bright-eyed founder of this company, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, his energetic smiles and excited air suggested that he really believed he could make this work. The idea for Fora was pretty simple: an online education platform that wanted to...