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Startups

  • 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...

  • 2012 startups in review: funding, competition winners and acquisitions

    Despite a struggling global economy and a notable downturn in Series A funding in the US, 2012 left a veritable smorgasbord of startup deals, competitions and acquisitions in its wake. With our birds-eye view of the activity in emerging markets, especially sub-Saharan Africa, we wrote about many of this year's deals. We covered startup competitions and talked to their finalists and we watched with glee as startups successfully completed mega government deals and got snapped up by bigger fish. New incubators popped up, helping brilliant early-stage startups take root. New venture funds came into existence and existing ones became larger, expanding...

  • 2012’s top 10 most popular startups on Ventureburn

    Which were the 10 most popular startups on Ventureburn this year? We're glad you asked. To compile this list we trawled through our logs and found the startup stories that generated the most views. Let us know what your favourite startups were. Mimiboard Umuntu Media's Mimiboards seemed to grab people's attention in a big way. We took a look at how the geographically sensitive, virtual noticeboards form part of an emerging publishing platform, social network and advertising empire that earned Umuntu Media a US$1 million seed investment late last year. Härnu We found Härnu to be something unique and called it "map-based social...

  • Music startups: your entire product is probably just a feature

    If startups have a one in 10 chance of surviving, music startups’ odds must be one in 10 000. The industry’s most famous success story, Napster, is also its most famous failure. And aside from Last.fm, which sold to CBS in 2007 for US$280-million, few have successfully exited since. It’s a prickly, difficult industry that’s as attractive as it is impossible. Peter Kafka noted as much last week when he questioned the logic of anyone launching a music startup in 2012, citing the incredibly high burn rate it takes to get to any sort of scale. This is true — the cost...

  • 4 key survival tips for early-stage startups

    Regardless of where you live, starting up a business and growing it through its early stages is difficult. As the chief strategy officer for SoftLayer, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor hundreds (if not thousands) of entrepreneurs and startups who were selected to join our Catalyst Startup Program, so I often find myself responding to questions about everything from business mechanics and corporate culture in Canada to conflict resolution and branding in Europe. Every startup faces unique trials and tribulations, but I’ve noticed that there is a universality to the challenge of keeping a new business alive through the...