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Startups

  • Seed Engine: a lifeline for idea-stage ventures

    While the US is seeing a downturn in Series A tech startup funding, 2012 has been a bumper year for seed/angel deals. In more risk averse arenas like South Africa, the feeling is that investors have traditionally been reluctant to throw money at idea-stage startups without active revenue streams. That's what makes Seed Engine, a new early-stage startup accelerator and incubator, so intriguing. In exchange for equity, 10 startups will receive R100 000 startup capital to turn their ideas into business plans, with the wind of three 13-week accelerator bootcamps at their backs. At the end of the programme, the...

  • If Twitter had Evernote’s baby it would look like Life Note

    If you're looking for a lightweight version of über note taking app Evernote, you might want to take a look at Life Note, a quirky, Twitter-esque web application developed by Cape Town-based web entrepreneur Ian Whiteley. Whiteley thinks of Life Note as "your brain online," useful for storing information you may want to recall later. The service focuses on notes and tasks currently, and although it doesn't have video and image upload functionality, it does support links to files stored on services such as Dropbox, Google Docs and SkyDrive. Whiteley, who worked as product manager at Vodacom and Virgin Mobile, developed...

  • 4 killer emerging market startups emerge from MEF innovation awards

    MEF, the global community for mobile content and commerce, recently held a startup battle in Miami that saw North and Latin American companies go head to head for top honours. Although a US-based CMS startup, GENWI, walked away as overall winner, the innovation competition recognised some interesting ventures from emerging markets such as Brazil, Mexico and Chile. The competition was open to mobile content and commerce startups actively innovating in the North America and Latin America regions. MEF presented its first innovation award during the third annual MEF event held in Miami. The MEF Americas 2012 Award for Mobile...

  • Protecting your inventions: IP and the perceptions of Kenyan startups

    Economies can lose billions of dollars due to piracy and IP infringement. Therefore, a country that values intellectual property (IP) can potentially create an excellent environment for IT innovation and economic growth. The 2008 survey conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that Kenya could create 977 IT jobs and the local IT industry could contribute $73.60 million to GDP (an increase of $40.01 million) by reducing the current 80% software piracy rate by 10 percentage points over four years. Perhaps the most successful case of IP protection is the Indian software industry. Between 1994-95 and 2001-02, the industry’s gross...

  • 3 key online marketing tips for startups

    If you are building a consumer internet business, you have probably spent 90 percent of your time on product development, building a team, chasing funding, and defending your decision not to get a “real job” to your mother. If you are lucky, then you spent the other 10 percent getting some sleep. The one area of execution that I typically see startups least equipped to tackle is advertising. As I have written before, there is a dangerous and false notion that products sell themselves. They don’t. Your product will not go viral and anyone that bets the success of their startup...

  • Why we’re not quite ready for the hardware startup renaissance

    "The Hardware Renaissance". It's unmissable. Paul Graham has noticed it and, certainly, my credit card has. Where once, entrepreneurs turned to software to form their 'next big thing', there is an increasing trend towards hardware in this space and, while many would seem to point to the likes of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms as the driving force behind this shift, I believe that the credit should really be handed to two guys in Cupertino who changed the way the world feels about hardware; Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive. Apple certainly wasn't the first company to introduce people to...

  • Tree planting social startup wins Enterprise Elevator pitch event

    The South African tech startup scene is burning up right now. At every corner there is a new startup competition attempting to pave the way for young entrepreneurs. Greenpop came out tops during the Enterprise Elevator pitch event yesterday. The event was part of an initiative that supports South African "entrepreneurs in the startup or early stage of their development to prepare for and secure an investment partner". Greenpop was one of six startups that pitched in front of a panel of judges, which included entrepreneurs and business people. "We received an overwhelming amount of entries for the pitch event...

  • 14 of India’s hottest mobile startups

    India is taking its place as a growing technology powerhouse, with a number of mobile startups looking to make a name for themselves. During this year's MobiSparks conference, the organizers showcased 14 of the country's hottest examples. This growing startup space in India is recognised by global Venture Capital firm, Sequoia Capital whose India head noted the 2013 will be critical for India as majority of the mobile startups in the world will come from the country. "In the next 12-18 months we will see major global mobile startups emerging from India. Mobile remittances are big in India. Interesting problems waiting...

  • Entrepreneur diaries: trying to get funds can be a distraction

    Editor’s Note: Nicholas Haralambous was the co-founder of mobile social network builder Motribe, which was recently acquired by Mxit for an undisclosed sum. The company was started two years ago with Vincent Maher and was invested in by local venture capital company 4Di Capital. He also recently started an environmentally friendly online sock shop. This is the second post in the series: "things I learned building a mobile startup in Africa". There are few things that you should focus on when building a company. Things like customer growth, product development and revenue growth. Early on in the life of a business,...

  • Paul Graham: the best startup ideas come from solving problems

    I recently read a great piece by Paul Graham that talked about getting startup ideas. In the well thought out essay about entrepreneurship and the various ways startup ideas have come to some of the world's biggest innovators, Graham finds a central concept at their core: problem solving. Graham is one of the founders of the widely popular YCombinator, a startup incubator that has funded more than 450 startups, including Dropbox, Airbnb, Stripe, and Reddit in the last seven years. As an investor Graham knows a thing or two about startups and good ideas. He reckons that startup ideas shouldn't...