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Startups

  • Indonesian unicorn shows Silicon Valley model can’t beat going local [Opinion]

    It is said that Jakartans spend 10 years of their life in traffic. The populous and fast growing Indonesian capital city is a sweaty, gridlocked cacophony of just about every type of vehicle you can think of. It’s a problem that has been noticed, and tackled, by the region’s tech entrepreneurs. To this end, two massive tech “unicorns” dominate the ride-hailing market there. Both companies, Go-Jek and the Singaporean Grab, are effectively the Ubers of that region. In fact, both companies have been so successful that they brought the worldwide ride-hailing leader Uber to its knees, forcing the San Francisco company to...

  • ‘In Libya the first thing you do as startup is to list all things that might go wrong’

    For Fattoum Nasser the first thing anyone does when starting a tech business in Libya is to list all the things that might go wrong -- from the internet connection constantly going down to your car being hijacked. Experts estimate that over 10 000 people have been killed since a civil war began in 2014, while the UN Human Rights Commission believes over 200 000 Libyans have been internally displaced. But somehow amidst all this chaos a generation of young tech entrepreneurs is forging ahead. Nasser (pictured above) -- who is from Sabha, a city located in the country's unstable south -- is one of these. Last year...

  • Should African startups looking to go global consider registering in the US? 

    An increasing number of African startups are incorporating their companies in the US -- to make it easier to scale globally, and in some instances to raise funding from international investors. One such startup is Ghanaian company Syncommerce. Founded in 2014 by CEO Christian Osei-Bonsu, Joel Funu, and Albert Fiati-Kumasenu, the startup's centralised dashboard allows online merchants to sell, track and manage inventory across multiple sales channels, simultaneously. From day one the company has drawn the bulk of its clients from the US. Currently the figure stands at 70% of its merchants. Syncommerce has been able to access markets in Canada, UK and the rest...

  • When you’re a mom running a growing tech startup it’s all about multitasking

    For tech entrepreneur Chantalle ten Napel Wilson being a mom and a business owner comes down to one thing -- a lot of multitasking. Wilson, the founder of online vehicle retailing platform Virtual Drive and a mother of two, recalls how she has often had to conclude business meetings inside her car with a client seated next to her, while rushing to pick up her children from school. But she says most of her clients who find themselves in her car finishing a meeting react only positively. “Most people have said that it’s incredible that you do this,” she says. Says Wilson: “As an investor once told...

  • Let’s do it for ourselves Africa and stop copying overseas tech trends [Opinion]

    I like comparing the startup scene in South Africa to where hip hop was in the country about 10 years ago. Artists trying to imitate what the Americans were doing -- fake American accents, no vernac in their songs and oversized clothes which failed dismally and did not connect with the audience. Fast-forward and now in the forefront with artists like Cassper Nyovest hip hop has become one of the most popular and lucrative genres. It is the biggest driver of urban youth culture purely because they “pivoted” and embraced their SA identity these artists are not only successful with their music but have...

  • What’s the secret ingredient that makes entrepreneurs successful? [Opinion]

    Am I an entrepreneur? It’s the question asked of me the most. It’s the question I thought would be the perfect start to this regular column on entrepreneurship, venture capital and the world of startups – a sector of our economy which is booming. Despite the economic and political challenges we face in the country, our startup scene is a parallel universe of overwhelming optimism, innovation, job creation, creativity and wealth creation. When we were in the midst of downgrades, juxtaposed was the country’s startup sector with positive news of new funds coming online, startups winning funding, and entrepreneurs exiting from...

  • Here’s what it’s like being a woman in SA’s tech startup ecosystem

    Tomorrow (9 August) South Africa will celebrate Women's Day. But what does it mean to be a woman in South Africa's traditionally male-dominated tech startup scene? To celebrate Women's Day, Ventureburn caught up with five women who have founded or are running tech startups in the country to find out what it's like being a woman in this country's tech scene and what hurdles women face when entering the tech sector. The five -- iMed Tech CEO Nneile Nkholise, Piehole.TV founder Priscilla Kennedy, Wala CEO Tricia Martinez, Momsays founder Shaney Vijendranath and Jumpin Rides co-founder Pauline du Paty -- also share advice for fellow...

  • Lessons from a business sale that didn’t quite go right – Farmcrowdy founder

    His business may have raised a $1-million round from Silicon Valley investors in December last year. But Farmcrowdy founder Onyeka Akumah says he learnt how not to do business when he sold his last business some years ago. Although Akumah (pictured above) won't disclose the name of the startup -- a news aggregator which he founded with a friend in 2012 and subsequently sold to Nigerian newspaper Business Day -- he says it taught him "how not to do business". "We latter sold parts of it. It’s one of the lessons I’ve learnt how not to do business," he says. "We raised...

  • ‘AlphaCode in drive to create pipeline of fintechs to invest in’ [Q&A]

    Joburg based fintech accelerator AlphaCode aims to create a pipeline of fintech firms in which Rand Merchant Bank -- which runs the programme -- can invest in and grow, says the programme's head Dominique Collett. Since it was established in 2015 AlphaCode has assisted 15 black-owned businesses through its AlphaCode Incubate programme with support as well as R13-million in funding. On Monday (30 July) AlphaCode launched a new call for applications for the programme. Read more: AlphaCode calls on black-owned fintech startups to apply to programme Collett (pictured above) tells Ventureburn more about how AlphaCode came about, how businesses can apply to the Incubate programme and what the main challenges...

  • Expat founders: So where are all the African entrepreneurs? [Opinion]

    I get utterly distraught every time I open a new TechCrunch article of a startup with a Swahili name disrupting a certain sphere of Africa only to find a foreigner founder and director. In a good case scenario, there will be one or two "local" founders on the list but that’s not as common. Do not get me wrong, I have nothing against "foreigner" founders. I, however, have a very big problem with its normalisation as a catalyst for running a successful startup in Africa. I went to engineering school where we graduated in the hundreds from the different departments. Where...

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