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Startups

  • WeLove: ‘Because sometimes a Like just isn’t enough’

    We have become a society that likes to "Like" and share our preferences with everyone we know. Millions of people join all sorts of Facebook groups to show their support for causes or their own interests. But the sheer size of Facebook and the number of groups available can often result in information overload that we just end up ignoring. We need quicker, simpler, more instantaneous ways of sharing our “likes” and maybe our “dislikes”. "Sometimes a Like isn't enough” according to WeLove.net, a new niche location-based social media site, which also includes a set of mobile applications. WeLove.net is...

  • Prominent SA startup FireID hits the skids

    FireID, a Stellenbosch-based startup specialising in mobile authentication, will probably be forced to close its doors or dramatically downscale after news that its main investor has pulled its funding. The main source of funding was via the Luxembourg-based Reinet Fund S.C.A., run by billionaire Johann Rupert, who invested in the company through Cape Town VC 4DiCapital. The company employs just under 40 people. Justin Stanford, who runs 4DiCapital, told Memeburn on Wednesday night that Reinet's refusal to renew the funding "came as a surprise". "It's been an emotional day... We were confident of a renewal due to FireID's revenue," he said. Stanford...

  • Five red-hot Indian tech startups

    China’s enormous internet population has been getting quite a bit of press lately, but India is undoubtedly as much of an emerging world internet power. With more than 400-million internet users China’s online success stories, like QQ and Baidu, make even Facebook’s numbers look average. But India’s open economy, its high percentage of English speakers and its highly educated new caste of IT whizz kids make it a perfect breeding ground for tech entrepreneurs. Here are five of the most interesting startups to watch: Voicetap Founded: March 2009 Homebase: New Delhi Elevator pitch: Voicetap connects people in need of advice with genuine experts on every...

  • Startup prediction: Digital money is the space to watch

    Paypal has led the way by opening up its platform but there will be lots of startups focused on digital money in its many forms in 2011. Making payments easier and secure is a very big deal. History reveals many times when innovation around money resulted in massive economic growth, and conversely, when a lack of payment options resulted in economic depression. For example, look at these innovations around money: International banking and insurance originated with the Medici families in Florence and was responsible for an explosion in international trade; the invention of bonds in Renaissance Italy led to massive...

  • Scaling: Don’t become a victim of your own success

    A common issue with online startups is that they only start thinking about scalability once their site goes down. Many of the big startups also experience this phenomenon (e.g Twitter, Tumbler). They take note and spring into action only once the issue has occurred, which almost always has a detrimental effect on the user experience. Unexepected traffic spikes that could be generated by something as simple as a post on a reputable tech news site can bring your site to its knees almost instantaneously. In that brief moment of fame, your site crashes and all those potential new readers/customers/fans...

  • Five difficulties facing startups in China

    There’s a legend about a Chinese monk who, after years of meditating atop a high, isolated mountain, envisioned the world’s first circular disk. Careful to keep his ideas to himself, the monk swore on oath not to speak to anyone until he had completed his invention. One day, a traveller from the West, fair in skin but foul of heart, passed by a town the monk frequented. He had heard of the silent monk and decided to test him. He managed to get the monk intoxicated enough to reveal his secret of the circular disk. The traveller took the...

  • Diaspora scores on privacy but will it ever go mainstream?

    Diaspora, the open source social network that puts user privacy above all else, is now rolling out in private alpha. The question is: can it hold its own against Facebook, or MySpace, or even Ning?  Early indications seem to indicate that the answer is no. Although Facebook has run into backlash several times over its approach to users’ information, it continues to grow like gangbusters, surpassing more than 550-million unique users in October, according to ComScore. Clearly, privacy concerns are something plenty of people pay lip service to, but rarely do anything about.  If Diaspora is to succeed, it will need...

  • What a startup can learn from a restaurant menu

    It's often said that one of the biggest challenges for an entrepreneur is focus. Naturally, this is coupled with multiple challenges like cash flow, growth management, and your general sanity. It's also said that the great thing about being an entrepreneur is the freedom that comes with it. However, that freedom is largely illusionary unless you are running a lifestyle company or you've hit the megabucks early. Most entrepreneurs find themselves shackled by other responsibilities: Responsibility for the talent in the organisation, strategic direction of the company, trying to build more with less, the demanding pace of the new startup...

  • Evly.com first look: Will this new crowdsourcing social network work?

    Sometimes it just so happens that a new technology service really speaks to you. The first time I saw Groupon, I thought that it was one of the most compelling services seen in quite some time. Clearly I was not the only one. Google is rumoured to have made an offer to acquire Groupon for US$3-billion. My first look at Evly however did not elicit quite the same initial reaction. The crowdsourcing social network had a soft launch this month. Its founder, Eran Eyal, of Springleap fame, touted their efforts as cutting-edge and having the potential to revolutionise the internet. Based...

  • Four things large companies can learn from startups

    Any startup company is agile by design and necessity. There are certain characteristics of a startup that make an agile approach come naturally, and allows startups to achieve far more in a month than some larger companies do in a quarter. Paying attention to these key principles, one can encourage the startup approach in larger organisations - not just in the design and development teams, but beyond to all areas of the business. As a disclaimer, let me say upfront: this is not a technical discussion. It’s not about how to implement a specific Agile methodology, but more about finding...