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Interviews

  • 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...

  • Q&A with MoboFree CEO on Africa’s fast-growing mobile marketplace

    MoboFree is an African-based mobile marketplace with a social twist that allows people to buy, sell and swap products with each other. The goal for the startup-turned-growth-company is to position itself as Africa’s leading mobile scam-free marketplace while striving to favourably compete with a much richer OLX. I sat with the CEO and co-founder of MoboFree, Cristobal Alonso in Lagos, Nigeria. We spoke on matters arising including the present and future of MoboFree -- plus the difficult task of getting eight out 10 Africans to know what MoboFree is really all about. Ventureburn: What is the current status of MoboFree’s operations...

  • Raru director Waine Smith weighs in on South Africa’s ecommerce industry

    Since its launch last year, Raru has become a go-to name in the South African ecommerce market. Headed up by ex-founders of Take2, they have put their knowledge to use and grown the new store into one of the largest in South Africa. On Thursday, Ventureburn sat down with the director of Raru, Waine Smith. We spoke about Raru’s growth and success, his take (excuse the take puns) on the Takealot & Kalahari merger, and where the South African ecommerce industry in heading towards. Ventureburn: How much has Raru grown since its launch last year and has it met your expectations? Waine Smith: It’s...

  • Ventureburn speaks to entrepreneurial maestro Adii Pienaar on Receiptful’s $500k Angel round

    South African serial entrepreneur and investor Adii Pienaar's new startup called Receiptful is making some noise. The co-founder of the popular website theme builder, WooThemes -- which is also behind one of the world's biggest online shop builders, WooCommerce -- has developed an elegantly simple tool that helps online shops increase customer engagement using email receipts. Since launching late last year, over 290 000 receipts have been sent which translates to around 5 000 receipts per day. To top that off, the startup has just revealed to us that it's raised US$500 000 (over R6-million) to help it strengthen its...

  • Tips from a successful Ghanian exit: Q&A with Saya Mobile founder Robert Lamptey

    Last year, the Ghana-based developer of mobile messaging apps for feature phones, Saya Mobile, was acquired by Kirusa from the States. Founded in 2011, Saya has received wide exposure for its instant messaging app called Street Chat. The platform includes social network integration, location-based and group chat across multiple phone platforms including J2ME, Android and iOS. With a focus on over 30 high-growth markets in from Southeast Asia to Sub-Saharan Africa, Saya has become super popular by being responsible for cheap mobile messaging to people who do not have smartphones in emerging economies. We recently caught up with the company's ex-CEO and...

  • [Exclusive] Fresh off the Dragons’ Den set: Ventureburn chats to Vinny Lingham

    The announcement of the judges for the South African version of Dragons' Den was pretty much the headline news of the week in the country's entrepreneurial space. The show is set to air in South Africa in the coming months, with 13 episodes of startups pitching to the Dragons for investment. One said Dragon, Vinny Lingham, of Yola and Gyft fame, popped round Ventureburn’s Woodstock offices in the Silicon Cape for an interview. Lingham was very hush-hush about any of the show's secrets or the amount of money that was invested. Despite much prompting, he refused to budge. "Over 10-million?" I...

  • Takealot’s Kim Reid talks new millions, expansion and the future of ecommerce

    News of popular ecommerce site Takealot's US$100-million investment round has set South Africa's tech scene abuzz. Late last week we reported that the site secured a staggering US$100-million from its long time investor, Tiger Global Management. Founded in the 2002 as Take2, the site was later relaunched as Takealot in 2010 by Tiger Global Management and CEO Kim Reid. Takealot offers an extensive range of locally supplied and imported books, DVDs, music, games, electronics and toys with delivery to your doorstep. In 2012, Takealot acquired a majority stake in delivery company Mr Delivery to launch its same-day delivery service in major...

  • Meet Tokologo Phetla, the 19-year-old behind two startups with serious social savvy

    Bill Gates first began his work in computers at the age of 20. Steve Jobs was 21 when he and Steve Wozniak began selling the Apple computer, and Oprah Winfrey was 17 when she began her public broadcasting career. Tokologo Phetla of Pretoria, South Africa is currently 19 years old and working for two different startups. He is managing to do this while attending the University of Cape Town, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Science in Finance and Accounting. In this interview, I ask him about his ambitious goals for business, his use of social media to promote...

  • The future of schooling in South Africa: practical ideas and technology

    Technology's role in education is not disputed -- it is an effective means to enable both student and teacher in creating a more engaging learning environment. For many educational institutions though, the question remains how to efficiently use the technology resources available to them. In South Africa, where improving education is a nationwide concern, the role of technology is not just a luxury, but perhaps a much-needed solution. ICT distributor Mustek's elearning and education head, Kobus van Wyk, answered some questions about technology resources in South African schools, and how they should be used optimally. van Wyk discusses the...

  • Africans need to build the continent up says founder of Africa’s Netflix Jason Njoku

    Africa's internet scene is growing, Africans are building killer apps and innovating in amazing ways. One of the pioneers leading Africa into a new age of disruption is Jason Njoku, the founder of iROKO Partners -- a media entertainment empire that owns iRoking and the insanely popular iROKOtv. Njoku has been heralded as the creator of Africa's Netflix by Forbes' and was also been named one of the continent's richest entrepreneurs by the publication. iROKOtv is an African video streaming services that specialises in bringing Nigerian and Ghanaian movies online for free. The platform also offers access to newer...