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Startups

  • 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...

  • InstaLens: How SA’s Instagram acolyte is capturing global success

    Instagram is well known for its dedicated communities -- especially in cities such as Cape Town where designers, both local and tourists, take advantage of the popular photography app. From Saturday brunches at The Old Biscuit Mill to sundowners in the Winelands, you'll find the hashtags #CapeTown or #CT constantly trending locally, especially at dusk. Not only have these communities inspired amateur smartphone photographers to become popular online influencers, they've enabled companies like InstaLens to launch into international markets by selling its sleek, universal smartphone camera lenses to smartphone photographers around the globe. Today -- only 10 months after it started...

  • 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...

  • StudySearch connects African students with quality universities abroad

    Even though there is no official data on the number of Africans that are travelling abroad annually for postgraduate studies, it's expected to be high considering the increasing local interest in foreign education and the general belief that the quality of Africa’s education system is not as high as in Europe or North America -- even some parts of Asia. One of the biggest obstacles there is for those keen to study abroad is not only having access to the relevant information. It's about getting actual admission and eventually moving from Africa to the school’s hostel that's complicated and stressful....

  • Can online boutique startup &Threads follow-up on YDE’s success?

    In 1995, Paul Simon (age 21) started the very popular Young Designers Emporium (YDE). The retail store for fashion designers soon grew to 13 stores across South Africa. Ten years later, he sold his company to Truworths International for an undisclosed sum of green, and with that, became one of the country's most inspiring entrepreneurial success stories. Since Simon made his exit, the serial entrepreneur has been involved in various projects, from setting up a kids play park, driving those yellow fan helmets during South Africa's Soccer World Cup in 2010 and launching a new ice tea brand called Uber...

  • Stitch Video: unlocking Africa’s growing video ad industry

    Having been behind the launch of one of the first video ad exchanges, Adap.tv -- which was then later acquired by AOL for over US$400-million -- Chris Smith has a strong background in video products and solutions. Today, with South African serial entrepreneur Vinny Lingham on board as advisor, the startup founder is looking to Africa's growing video market as the next big thing. Ventureburn sat down with Smith from Stitch Video to talk about how an American came to set up a startup at the very tip of Africa. Stitch offers a programmatic ad platform that connects video publishers and...

  • Bitcoin’s first killer app? Bankymoon lets you pay your utility bills in digital currency

    We're living in a world where everything's being labeled as smart. From our phones to watches and even our cars. But something that's really being taken for granted is our utility grids -- including gas, water and electricity. And while the majority of the world might be migrating onto the so-called smart grids, they are still filled with a lot of dumb problems. The biggest being payments. South African bitcoin startup Bankymoon is boldly taking on this industry. That's besides having a killer name for a bitcoin startup. Presenting its application for the first time recently at the Bitcoin Conference Africa,...

  • Recast opens its doors, lets you tune into your favourite radio station’s playlist online

    People get really attached to their radio stations. Each one has its own personality and unique music taste. The only problem is that they're filled to the brim with ads and chatter, which doesn't float well in a world where people have also become spoiled with on-demand music services like Spotify or Rdio. Having just launched alongside its iOS app (you can also tune in online), the savvy Cape Town, South African startup seems to have managed to find a sweet spot in between a radio industry playing catch-up and a highly competitive music industry ruled by record labels and...

  • Brothers for All: the inspiring school teaching underprivileged people how to code

    This week, Brothers For All is starting its first pilot project in two of South Africa's Western Cape prisons, equipping underprivileged people with valuable coding and entrepreneurial skills. A first of its kind on the African continent, Brothers for All is a spin-off of the non-profit Mothers for All, a local organisation that supports women in Botswana and South Africa, and the award-winning prisoner initiative, Group of Hope. Just 25 weeks after setting up in October last year, Brothers for All has over 170 students from underprivileged backgrounds, who are all learning essential coding languages like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The...

  • Nigeria gets localised website that helps you locate leisure spots

    Several months ago, Oyewole Kayode was in Ibadan, the ancient yet trend-setting Nigerian city located in the Yoruba-dominated southwestern part of the country. While he was there, a female friend called him and asked if they could hang out at a "very cool" place. He began a frantic search for a place the woman would love -- a place that was also cheap and within his lean budget. “So I went online and realised there was no single platform that chronicled details of cool places and how much it was going to cost me,” Kayode said. In the end, he couldn't hang out with the woman. Following...