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Interviews

  • Patrick Kayton on Cognician’s revamped self-coaching platform [Q&A]

    Cape Town, South Africa-based self-coaching platform Cognician recently launched a new version of their software, entitled C3, which helps users collect and organise their thoughts. The company has received local and international recognition in the Cape Town Activa Awards, Seedcamp Johannesburg, Seedcamp London, and being named one of Europe's top 11 startups at the TechCrunch Europas Awards. Cognician can be used to brainstorm ideas, plan essays, and outline events. Users may then collaborate with friends or co-workers on the ideas. This e-learning tool differentiates itself from the competition by incorporating a chat-like interface for users, designed to help stimulate thinking on the subject...

  • Ventureburn chats with Simon Hartley on WumDrop’s R1m-plus investment [Q&A]

    On the back of raising over R1-million and winning the prestigious MTN's Best Enterprise App and Best Overall App of 2015, Ventureburn sits down with WumDrop co-founder Simon Hartley (pictured above with 'anonymous' developer) to catch up with what the trendy, on-demand courier and delivery startup is up to. Hartley co-founded WumDrop together with Roy Borole in May 2014. Since then, the South African startup has achieved fast growth and prompted other players like the Tencent-backed Picup to enter the market, both seeking to disrupt the local courier industry and beyond. Today, WumDrop has secured an investment of just over R1-million, with...

  • SnapScan’s Kobus Ehlers on keeping up with SA’s ever-changing payments landscape

    Kobus Ehlers is behind one of South Africa's top-ranked apps, and arguably the only successful startup to have made mobile payments relevant in the country. Even though multinational telecom giants like Vodacom struggle to get mobile payments off the ground in the country, SnapScan today boasts over 20 000 merchant clients, ranging from parking marshals to restaurants. While user numbers aren't disclosed, it's growing much faster than the merchant clients'. Yet, while growth is all good and well for certain niche sectors, the company is regularly experimenting with new features and integrations to feel out the ever-changing market and keep up...

  • Q&A with AgroInfoTech on building real tech solutions for Nigeria

    No one doubts the booming status of the tech ecosystem in Nigeria, but taking a closer look at where the action is happening would reveal that much of the noise is being made by players in the ecommerce space, followed by education, and so on. Strangely though, little is really happening in the agricultural space. That was until I met Oluwajoba Ayo Okediji, the founder and director of AgroInfoTech. In an interview, we spoke extensively on what is happening in the agricultural-tech space, the prospects and ongoing plans to launch Nigeria’s incubation hub for agriculture-focused tech startups. Ventureburn: Why is tech...

  • Q&A: What Africa needs to build the next Facebook

    I recently sat down with Seedstars World’s Marcello Schermer (pictured middle) and Gregory Pepper (pictured left). We spoke extensively about the startup pitching competition and how it's supporting emerging companies from all over the globe. We then dissected the startup ecosystem in Africa, focusing on what it will take for Africa to launch the next Facebook. Sourcing tech startups from around the globe, Seedstars World is currently making its rounds through 16 African countries. The top company from each country will stand a chance of winning a US$500 000 equity investment in Switzerland next year. Ventureburn: What is the business model...

  • Springleap’s Trevor Wolfe talks agencies, startups, and pivots [Q&A]

    For a long time now the line between startups and agencies has been blurring. With tech and product becoming so incorporated into daily operations and often determining revenues, it's not unusual to see a startup act like an agency or the other way around. South Africa's Springleap fits the bill of a startup-turned-agency rather well. While the company started out as a platform crowdsourcing T-shirt designs, it recently pivoted to leverage its global community of 800 000 creatives to fulfill other agency needs. It was during this time of flux that Springleap got US marketing expert Trevor Wolfe to come on board as marketing...

  • Q&A: How Kaymu is helping thousands of Nigerian SMEs move to the cloud

    Ecommerce is a big deal in Nigeria. Several SMEs are considering it as an option to reach bigger markets without expanding their office space. But the complexity of the technology behind running an efficient ecommerce platform, in addition to the high cost of marketing, make ecommerce a future pain for SMEs. But Kaymu, an online marketplace, makes it possible for SMEs to realise their ambitions. Over 40 000 SMEs in various parts of the country are already on the platform, and thousands are joining each week. I caught up with Evangeline Wiles, who's the MD of Kaymu Nigeria, recently at the...

  • Q&A with Francesco Signoretti from lastminute.com group on emerging markets

    Feature photo: Seedstars Cape Town judges during a startup's pitch Francesco Signoretti is the CEO of lastminute.com group, a European leader in the online travel and leisure industry. The Group has an impressive portfolio of well-known brands such as lastminute.com, Bravofly, Rumbo, Volagratis and Jetcost, with websites and mobile apps in 15 languages across 35 countries. As an official partner of Seedstars World, lastminute.com group has agreed to power a Travel Investment Track that will award US$500 000 in equity investment to the best travel startup. Signoretti was with the Seedstars World team at the Cape Town event to help source...

  • Wootware’s Rory Magee on growing ecommerce success in oversaturated market

    Starting an ecommerce store in South Africa is a difficult undertaking; making it a success is a far more daunting challenge. Wootware is an online PC store that, despite a difficult and saturated market, has continued to thrive. Since its launch in 2009, the store has continued to grow during a recession and unstable market, which is no short feat. We sat down with Rory Magee (pictured above), the founder of Wootware, to find out a bit about the store's success and his take on the South African ecommerce market. Ventureburn: Tell us about Wootware? Rory Magee: We are an enthusiast-focused computer consumer...

  • WooThemes’ Mark Forrester on how an SA startup sprouted a global success story

    Last week we witnessed one of South Africa's greatest success stories to date. A local tech company was acquired by Automattic, which is the brain company behind one of the world's most popular website builders, WordPress.org, founded by 31-year-old American entrepreneur Matt Mullenweg. While the startup scene was abuzz with lessons and opinions on the matter, Ventureburn decided to sit down with Mark Forrester (pictured above) to find out how a local startup managed to become a global success story. Founded in 2007 by Norwegian computer scientist Magnus Jepson, South African's Mark Forrester and former business partner Adii Pienaar, WooThemes has not only...