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Startups

  • Viewdle gives mobile phones the ability to ‘see’

    High-powered players are pumping US$10-million into Viewdle, a technology startup crafting ways that enable smartphones "see" things the same way people do and identify faces. The influx of cash announced this week is coming from Qualcomm, BlackBerry Partners Fund, US electronics retail chain Best Buy, and Anthem Venture Partners, an investment firm that has backed Viewdle from the outset. "We are giving smartphones human eyes," said Viewdle co-founder and chief executive Laurent Gil. "Letting them see the world the way people do... it is artificial intelligence," he said. "It is happening." Northern California-based Viewdle bills itself as the leading independent facial recognition company...

  • Thinkup: A web app to help analyse your social network

    ThinkUp, a free software project founded by Gina Trapani of Lifehacker fame, helps you harvest insights from the conversations you have on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. One of ThinkUp's most compelling features is its ability to collect and organise replies to the questions you pose to your friends and followers on your social networks. The free, installable web-application is still in beta testing but has received a lot of positive acclaim already. With ThinkUp, you are able to store your social data such as posts, replies, retweets, friends, followers, and links from Twitter and Facebook in your own...

  • Now you can create a social network using your phone

    The next evolution of social networks involves customisable, targeted communities that share specific interests, as opposed to the one-size-fits all mega-networks that exist today. And these new networks need to be flexible enough to take advantage of the massive growth spurt reported that is happening on the mobile web. These two trends have played perfectly into the hands of South African internet veterans, Nic Haralamobous and Vincent Maher who have just created and launched a startup called Motribe, which is “a platform that enables users, brands, agencies and publishers across the world to build and manage their own mobile social...

  • Blekko search: Coming soon to a browser near you

    Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta has conceded the search battle to Google without even firing a shot. Instead, he’s adopted the mantra of his co-founder Mike Markson: own a category or die. The challenge for Blekko is that the company must figure out exactly which category it plans to own; then work to define it. At present, the most accurate term for what Blekko does is vertical search, which has been a highly elusive category for large-scale, consumer-level entrants. Vertical search targets specific types of content, whether by format, topic or genre. ...

  • 7 reasons to bootstrap: Angels, VCs or none of the above?

    The venture capitalist (VC) community is disdainful of angel investors and their puny funds, but the angels can do deals that VCs cannot because they are too small for the large funds. Today's entrepreneur has a choice: Angels or VCs or none of the above. It's worth considering the "none of the above" option because startup costs are very low. Joe Kraus, co-founder of Excite, which was the Google of its day, told me...

  • The lack of tech IPOs is holding back job expansion in US, says leading VC

    Robert Ackerman, a leading Silicon Valley venture capitalist and founder of Allegis Capital, says that tech IPOs will remain scarce and that this will curtail job creation in the US. A continued scarcity of tech IPOs means that the Obama Administration won't be able to count on Silicon Valley startups to help spark a job boom and help alleviate tough economic conditions for millions of unemployed. Mr. Ackerman says, "These days, tech startups have to rely on being acquired by a larger company once they reach a certain size because there isn't an IPO market to help them recapitalise and grow...

  • Are classified sites in Africa profitable?

    You’ve probably heard of these very popular online classified sites, Craigslist and Gumtree. Both sites offer buyers and sellers an opportunity to engage in a free and open market. With the success of these sites in their respective countries and beyond, African entrepreneurs are keying into the online classifieds market. Today, there are probably more than 20 classified sites in Nigeria alone that offer the same service, but with different business models and technical functionality. Some of the popular niche classifieds sites include Nairalist.com, Txtoweb.com, Chukslist.com, Gbogbo.com, Bunchbay.com, Kerawa.com Nigeria, and WhoGoBuy.com. In addition, other Nigerian websites also offer online classified...

  • Manifesto for web startup entrepreneurs

    I’m going to apologise up front. These aren’t all original thoughts - are original thoughts still possible? I read voraciously online and I am pretty convinced that all that reading has helped inform this list. And no, I’m not going to get into the semantics about exactly what a “startup” is right now. 1. Think global You are not going to become rich building an online business solely focused on the South African market. Read that again. You will not become rich. Despite what you think now, in order to become wildly successful, you have to build an online business that...

  • 20 hot Nigerian startups to watch

    As we gradually approach the end of the first half of 2010, we are expecting to see more web 2.0 innovations and mobile-based platforms developed by Nigerian tech entrepreneurs. At this year's Barcamp Nigeria, coming up on 22 May at the University of Lagos, we also anticipate many new product launches. There is no doubt that Nigeria's startup scene is heating up. It deserves attention from the global webspace. Already, there are indications that an Android-powered tablet could be coming from Nigeria. Some quick facts and figures: Nigeria is a country of about 150-million people. The CIA Factbook also reports that Nigeria...

  • The startup way: 10 web tools we use

    When building a startup venture, small teams come up against several tough challenges. One being, how to deliver a lot of work in a little time, and how is this achievable with almost no budget? Luckily, these pains have been recognised by many great services that help small businesses punch above their weight. In a startup environment, inefficiencies are punished more than anywhere else. After getting Personera off the ground, our team has learnt some lessons in selecting the right tool for the job at hand. Here are 10 online tools we use regularly and have come to love. Communication Gmail: Yes,...