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Startups

  • From deal sites to tablet makers: inside Africa’s startup boom

    Africa has a pretty impressive tech startup scene. Very few people know about it because the companies that are being built aren't exiting for millions of dollars. Well, not all of them. The continent has, in the last decade, seen a mobile explosion that beats the developed world. Yes, connectivity is still an issue that needs resolving but somehow the tech innovators are building products that have seen interest from the likes of financial juggernaut Visa and are winning innovation prizes against more established counterparts in the developed world. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Africa will have...

  • Some business lessons from Cirque du Soleil

    I recently went to see DRALION by Cirque du Soleil -- presented by T-Systems. It was one of the most visually stimulating things that I have witnessed in recent years. In fact it was an all-round sensory experience not to be missed. That's not why I'm writing this blog post. Sitting there listening to and watching the show, I was taken by how perfect of an experience the show was and started to wonder what startups could learn from it. Here are a few things I noticed: Work with only the best Every single person that formed part of the crew (performers, backstage...

  • 5 things startups can learn from surfers

    Surfing isn't exactly the sport one would associate with startups, but there's a lot to be learnt from hanging ten that applies to the world of online business: Know the conditions Ideal surfing conditions are a cumulation of swell, tides and wind. Ideally, offshore conditions hold up he wave, giving the surfer more surface area on which to surf. Similarly, startups should have an idea of what their market's conditions are -- for example: knowing that iOS users monetise better than Android users means that iOS development takes precedence if you want to monetise early. Know the locals At every surf spot...

  • The five Ws and one H of building a startup

    Dear startups, I think it is time someone spelled out a few truths. There are many ideas floating about. Some are really good, others not so much. Not a every idea warrants a company and not everyone can run a good business. Before deciding to turn an idea into a business, approaching investors or squandering the family fortunes, it is important ask yourself some very serious questions about what you are about to build and the company you intend to start. Any journalism student will tell you that the first rule of new writing is understanding the five Ws...

  • Off to chat to a VC? Here are 10 things you need to do first

    A lot of very very smart, experienced investors have put several “must read” guides out there over the last few years on how to get their attention. If you’ve read these before, consider this a reminder. If you haven’t read these guides before, then consider this a starting point. This post should not be seen as a comprehensive list. It’s more of a response to various pitches I’ve been getting from multiple sources. “Understand the investor’s mandate, fund size, investment reqs. Pitch the right investors and build relationships with others” – TJ Sassani, Founder of Zozi. Research Before going out and trying...

  • Is MiName about to turn telemarketing on its head?

    Check this out. Cold-calling is annoying right? You're always getting hassled and it often smacks of privacy invasion. Yet, it's someone's job to make those sales calls and companies often have great products, it's just that they're not getting through to the right people. Three South Africans who wanted to put an end to the exploitation of cold-calling, actuaries Gaurav Nair and Derrick Hyde, and an engineer Lawrence Joffe founded MiName. MiName allows consumers to request calls from companies that sell products and services they actually need. The incentive? Cash rewards. MiName says the experience allows personal details to be kept...

  • How to find and hire superhero employees – before anyone else does

    Many businesses, from small startups to multinational giants, struggle to match the right person with the right position. Getting it wrong can have disastrous effects on company culture and in most cases, has a negative impact on your bottom-line. While all hires are important, the higher up the chain you go, the more important it is to get it right. And when you get it wrong, it can be disastrous – especially when the bad hire was the guy your board appointed to the top job. Hiring a CEO who is not cut out for the job can destroy a...

  • Think being a tech entrepreneur is glamorous? Pick another career path

    Having spent the past two years building a company in Hong Kong, I can testify that it is f**king hard. In the beginning, ignorance is bliss. You allow your sexy PowerPoint slides to seduce you into believing your big idea is flawless. Your projections are up and to the right and you feel invincible. You sleep great at night and have the energy and ego to believe you will change the world. It’s not until you quit your job, realize you have no health insurance, absorb the fact that VCs don’t respond to your emails and that you only have...

  • The state of South Africa’s tech startup industry [Infographic]

    A recent Silicon Cape survey titled The State of South Africa's Tech Startup Industry has been compiled in the form of the mighty infographic. Although only around 250 people have answered the survey at the date of writing, the information supplied by the small sample group provides revealing insight into the nature of the scene, and most tellingly, the perception of the scene -- especially when compared to last year's poll of 190...

  • 5 clever growth hacking techniques to inspire your startup

    "The growth hacker is the new VP of Marketing. Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of ‘How do I get customers for my product’ and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph. On top of this, they layer the discipline of direct marketing, with its emphasis on quantitative measurement, scenario modelling via spreadsheets, and a lot of database queries. If a startup is a pre-product/market fit, growth hackers can make sure virality is embedded at the core of a product. After product/market fit,...

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