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Startups

  • Incubator Fledge closes funding round as its startup BURN gets cooking

    Young startup incubator Fledge, and the most successful company from its 2012 summer programme, BURN Manufacturing, had a fruitful week after closing the first round of its venture capital funding. BURN, a company addressing cookstove problems in the developing world, managed to secure a whopping US$3-million loan from the federal Overseas Private Investment Corporation and a US$1-million investment from General Electric. This around the same time that Fledge’s first round brought in US$307 000 -- enough money to back the seven companies from Fledge’s 2012 summer as well as those in the next round, beginning on 18 February, co-founder and managing director...

  • 7 things about your pitch the dragons hated

    When you are pitching to a venture capitalist or angel investor, it's like venturing into a dragon's lair and attempting to convince the fire-breathing monster to give you one of its golden eggs. It's a no-nonsense matter and one bad move could end your entrepreneurial ambitions. Startups often think that once they have an idea, chances are it is rock star worthy and any self-respecting VC will be bonkers not to fork over piles of money to back their venture. Not so. Yes, some people get lucky, most need to work really hard at it. When you approach the...

  • 7 things startups can learn from the Super Bowl

    If the Super Bowl was a startup, it would be the greatest and most successful startup in the world. The annual event is the championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional American football in the United States. Really you don't get higher than that. To be one of the final two teams on Super Bowl Sunday takes hard work, dedication and a certain level of skill that not everyone has. Even more to run a successful Super Bowl Sunday takes much more, the football is the easy part. The Super Bowl isn't...

  • Was Foodspotting’s $10 million exit really that attractive?

    It’s all over the news now. San Franscisco-based food photo sharing app Foodspotting has been acquired by OpenTable to the tune of US$10-million. But is a US$10-million exit attractive? Prior to the acquisition, Foodspotting raised a US$750,000 seed round from investors, which include 500Startups, as well as a few other angel investors including Dave Morin and Dan Martell back in August 2010. In January 2011, Foodspotting closed a US$3-million funding round from Blue Run Ventures. Fast forward to January 2013, is the US$10 million an attractive exit? Two years since their series A funding would suggest that the 12 person team is possibly very near the end...

  • Pimp my startup: why I want my VC to focus on marketing, not just money

    What should startups want in an investor? Money, smarts, rolodex – sure. But that’s not enough any more. I want my VC to do marketing for me too. Ron Conway is certainly no lesser investor than Dave McClure. But there are 100x more startup people and early adopters in Asia who know 500 Startups from his many tours of duty (that is certainly true in Croatia too). More importantly, amongst those are hackers and hustlers I want to hire – people who may never have heard of Ron or SVAngels. VCs like First Round Capital routinely pimp their startups out, such...

  • Is digital mood boarding startup SampleBoard a threat to Photoshop?

    Outside the world of design, the concept of "mood boarding" isn't well known, and yet, it's easy to acknowledge as something of value. Last year, a Google startup incubator awarded SampleBoard US$50 000 in seed funding and the tool is already a favourite among designers. So, what is a mood board? Before beginning work on a design, a designer uses different mediums -- text, pictures, and other objects -- to create a physical or digital collage that represents the direction of style being pursued for a commissioned product. This type of collage is called a mood board, and SampleBoard, allows...

  • Meet Tiki: the startup aspiring to be Vietnam’s answer to Amazon

    Ask anyone in Vietnam who the popular online bookstores are in the country and chances are they will point you to Tiki.vn. The e-commerce startup was founded in 2010 by Son Tran. Today Tiki.vn not only sells books but also other products like toys and apparel, making the same sort of expansion in product offerings that Amazon did. Tran’s first experience with e-commerce was actually with Vinabook, which is also an online bookstore. He worked there from 2009 to 2010. He described his experience as a positive, educational one. However, back then Vinabook was very focused on books in Vietnamese. But Tran, who...

  • Delphix: a standout startup with standout leadership

    I meet with huge numbers of companies every year but it's rare for me to come across a company that excites me as much as Delphix. Delphix founder Jed Yueh is just 37 years old and will undoubtably become one of Silicon Valley's next generation of leaders and success stories. His focus, his discipline, and his intellect are striking -- and it's these qualities of leadership that sets Delphix apart from the many...

  • Event tech startup Virtuvent to ‘set industry standard’ and ‘spark copy-cats’

    If you've ever watched a stable, HD webcast of a product announcement, easily registered for an event or enjoyed a high-speed internet connection while venturing around a trade show floor, you'll appreciate the companies that work behind the scenes to make it all work efficiently. Virtuvent, an events tech company with a strong South African connection, has a unique, integrated approach and some notable events under its belt. Officially launched in October last year, Virtuvent is a B2B startup that targets large or enterprise events, with cloud-based software to manage the logistics, communications and video of the events. It's...

  • ValuationUP: the startup that could save your business

    We first heard about ValuationUP, the financial performance analysis, benchmarking and valuation tool for SMBs when it won the Ignite startup competition at African innovation conference, Tech4Africa, last year. The South African team behind ValuationUP, Gareth Ochse and Kenneth Kalmer believe their startup will help people -- even those without financial backgrounds -- benchmark the financial performance of the ventures they are growing, selling, buying or advising. Research suggests that a high percentage of startups fail -- some estimate 75%, depending on how failure is defined. "Startups often fail because founders and investors neglect to look before they leap, surging...