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Startups

  • Why most startups fail … and here’s how not to

    It’s easy to think of the latest startup like a pimple in the middle of your forehead: you wake up one morning and it’s all you can see. And then, one day, for no specific reason, it’s gone. “Anyone know what happened to Whatchamacallit?” After some enquiry, all you’ve got is a handful of rumours and a bucket of spin. All we know for sure is that it’s over. Truth is,...

  • Silicon Valley: There’s no bubble but there could be a bust…

    Are we in a bubble? This is the common question as I chat with people at various events around Silicon Valley. The concern that many are expressing is that if it's a bubble, then a crash is not far off. But that's a misdirection of concern, I'm far more worried that the economy will crash long before Silicon Valley's boom has had a chance to bubble and burst. I see the current boom as a resumption of where Silicon Valley was in mid-2008. Finally, after the bubble burst in 2000, funding was coming back and so were jobs and optimism about...

  • Groupon a ‘tech startup’? I don’t think so

    Tech companies can scale their business largely through adding servers and software, which is why VCs love to invest in them. That's why they shun services companies (like agencies), where hiring lots of people is required to scale a business. Groupon, the very well-known two-year-old Chicago-based group-shopping coupon service, now has more than 8 000 staff, at least half working in sales, says CEO Andrew Mason, speaking at the AllThingsD D9 conference. That's...

  • 12 emerging market startups to watch

    Emerging market startups are coming into their own and increasingly appearing on the radar of mainstream venture capitalists in established markets. Skype recently announced its interest in investing in Chinese startups. The VoIP service is not the only player seeking a slice of the emerging markets pie - the list of startups grows everyday. Here are 12 of the many companies staking their claim in up and coming emerging markets: DianDian, China DianDian which means "bit by bit" was founded by Chinese business man Jack Xu. Prior to starting this venture, he was managing RenRen and Kaixin, two Chinese Facebook clones,...

  • How to do market and competitor research that wins investment

    Regardless of whether it’s an angel investor or venture capitalist you are approaching, every funder will narrow things down to one major question: “Who is your target market and who are you competing against?” This is the warning of Alex Fraser, who drives home the fact that preparing a market and competitor analysis is a vital part of any business plan or pitch deck. Fraser is based at at InvenFin, an early stage capital company. She says she often receives business plans with no competitor analysis, leading her to request one from entrepreneurs with the need for more information. It’s...

  • An international perspective on SA startups [NetProphet]

    Angel investing came accidentally to UK-based Permjot Valia. As the sales and marketing director of Ernst & Young, he became involved in their entrepreneur programme, which in turn led to his new career of investing in startups. By his own admission, Valia’s success rate is a statistical anomaly: while an average of only 3% of investors successfully exit a startup via an IPO, the first company he invested in went public within just seven months. Visiting Cape Town this week to work with local entrepreneurs, Valia shared his experiences, garnered over the course of his 25 or so investments,...

  • 38 emerging South African tech entrepreneurs to watch [Part I]

    The technology space is particularly notable for the amount of entrepreneurial activity it attracts. The word "startup" has become almost synonymous with the tech and online space and there are thousands of entrepreneurs that run small and large companies that are carving out niches for themselves. The high amount of entrepreneurial activity in the tech sector may be explained by the fact that the costs of starting an online business are low. You don't need a factory or heavy-lifting equipment to start an online business, and the people found in the sector are highly skilled. Also, we all know about the...

  • Coming soon: A homegrown tech entrepreneurship guide

    All rising economies need a helping hand to achieve greatness. Economies that wish to thrive in today's fast-paced world of changing commerce and enterprising initiative need enterprising people. Entrepreneurship is a crucial part of any society on the rise, especially where technological infrastructure is lacking. The Entrepreneurship Guide website will go live on 12 May, in conjunction with the project launch at the Net Prophet conference in Cape Town. The South African entrepreneurial landscape is fast becoming a busy one. A sizeable number of South African entrepreneurs have graced the international stage with their ideas and flourishing success stories, though many...

  • Innovation journalism — Media coverage is important to startups

    Media coverage is very important for startups. It is how they gain respect in their community, it is how they can win investors, and it is invaluable in helping to recruit staff. Positive media coverage will also help gain users of their products and services, providing valuable marketing services that could cost tens of thousands of dollars. But the only reason media coverage of a startup and their product is valuable is that the media coverage is seen as a neutral third party -- it has no financial bias in its reporting. The only acceptable bias is a thirst for a great...

  • There are only nine Googles left in the world

    There's an interesting analysis of the advertising industry and Silicon Valley's growing bubble in new media by Rick Webb. In his analysis, Webb argues that Silicon Valley is heading for a cliff in funding too many startups to provide new media channels for advertisers. He writes that there seems to be a perception that there will be far more money in online advertising than there really is. "Brands don't actually want or need any more media channels. As far as they're concerned, the internet can stop now. We have enough channels. We were happy when we had like seven (TV, print, outdoor,...