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Startups

  • Dear Asia, please stop trying to be Silicon Valley and do your own thing

    One of my favourite jokes about Silicon Valley goes like this: A million guys walk into a Silicon Valley bar. None of them buy anything. The bar is declared a rousing success. It underlines an unbounded enthusiasm that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. And yet, this hasn’t stopped cities like Beijing, Bangalore, Singapore, Shenzhen, Daejeon, and even Ho Chi Minh city, being touted as the next Silicon Valley. People think that if you’ve got a bunch of tech companies all in one place you can call it a Silicon Valley. But the fact is, people don’t tell these kinds of jokes...

  • Why is talking about money in SA’s startup scene a no-no?

    Trying to get an investment amount out of a startup in South Africa is nearly impossible. I used to think that it's because the amounts are so little that the startups are a tad embarrassed to state publicly that, truth be told, their companies aren't really worth that much. But that cannot be the case. We know of companies that have received hundreds of millions in funding, but choose not to make the figures public. Why? Surely this cannot be a case of culture, where we are too polite to talk about money because it's seen as a taboo subject. If...

  • African mobile startups – a call to arms: G-Startup applications open

    Startup culture in emerging markets is thriving. In Africa, for example, there is no shortage of innovation nor entrepreneurship despite missing one of the key components most startups desperately need: funding. Sure it is an emerging space, but an investment ceiling (of around R5-million) poses a huge challenge for African startups, especially in the growth phase. One viable option is to take a company overseas in the hopes of obtaining foreign investment, but this often requires a lot of legwork, money and convincing, and results in a lot of rejection. Only the thick-skinned need apply. If that sounds like too much for...

  • Beginner investor? Here are 7 things to consider before funding a startup

    I have been dispensing a fair amount of startup advice of late, mostly picked up from hanging around some pretty hardcore venture capitalists (VCs). This time I thought we could look at a little something for the not-so-seasoned investors out there. So, if you've got some spare cash lying around, you might fancy yourself an investor. You've heard a few startups pitch and you're pretty sure that they are going revolutionise mobile/social/the web as we know it. You have the money and they have the killer power point so it is a marriage made in startup heaven. That's great, but...

  • Now Novel – the easy, social way to write a book… for a price

    If you’ve always wanted to write a novel, to bring that masterpiece in the back of your mind to life, there are a few services that you can enlist to help you out. Other than the real world assistants of editors, university writing courses, self-publishing et al. there are also a number of digital and online aids out there. Writing applications such as Celtx and Scrivener provide full services, while online education options are a dime a dozen promising to make you an enthralling writer… "in just ten weeks!" And while no one option is the holy grail of writing utilities,...

  • 500 startups sees Silicon Valley in Brazil

    Startup accelerator 500 Startups is serious about growing its presence in emerging markets. According to the accelerator, "big things are happening" in the South American country, which is why the programme has "been so passionate about supporting Brazilian startups and entrepreneurs". In a recent post on its site, 500 Startups noted that Brazil's mobile landscape is worth paying attention to saying that it is "seeing Silicon Valley in Brazil". "Mobile's massive as well, with more than 1.4 phones per person, with 22-million of those being smartphones," says the post. "And these numbers are going up faster every year." 500 Startups was...

  • 8 Red Hot Chili startup lessons

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) may be one of the most celebrated rock groups of the '90s and early 21st century, but their journey to success shares a Parallel Universe with that of a typical startup company. Initial enthusiasm was followed by a lack of traction as they struggled through the late ‘80s confronting tragedy, personnel changes and false starts. But through experimentation they fostered creativity and progress because they don’t fear failure. This energy lead to a uniquely recognizable brand of funk, pop and rock that turned into commercial success. Some valuable startup lessons are woven into the...

  • Startups vs Government on innovation

    Comparing tech startups and the government is strange, I know. Nevertheless, having just finished a short course on economic development, I’m quite sure there are some parallels in the thinking of professors and civil servants in charge of the economy, and the thinking of the likes of Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame. The first thing that resonated is some advice I’ve gleaned from successful entrepreneurs. Pick a goal, i.e. the mountain in the distance. Then, ignore every single step between you and the mountain, except for the next step. Once that step has been taken, look up, make sure...

  • Airtime: the online radio management system you need

    There are thousands of radio stations around the world -- the medium is thriving in both developed and developing nations where internet-radio and the traditional format prevail respectively. And while stations' broadcasting goals may vary from entertainment to news to education to marketing, they all share the unifying challenge of managing and scheduling their broadcasts, in an effective and timely manner, to reach the millions of regular radio listeners worldwide. Interestingly, there has been an explosion in the number of radio stations that broadcast in local languages, providing an extra hurdle for show--creators: how do they create content between many contributors...

  • 8 tips to help get your startup through a big brand partnership

    If you’re doing a startup, there’s an allure to big brand partnerships. You might think: close a deal in a couple of months and then prestige, validation, press, growth, new opportunities, and lots more all await. “If I get this deal we’ll be up in bright lights.” Except it doesn’t usually work that way. The reality is that it’s so hard getting a foot in the door, then signing a contract is grindingly tough. Next, getting a successful partnership that delivers real mutual value is the real challenge, and then you have to do all this without getting sidetracked and...

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