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Startups

  • 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,...

  • 7 tips for starting up small

    There's no formula for guaranteeing the success of a startup and each new venture comes with its own story and own personal ideas of how to make it work. Still, there are some commonalities that you can learn from and prepare to encounter before heading into the great unknown. Here are seven simple and easy things to watch out for before and during the first few months of your startup's life, particularly if you're starting up without an investment or strategy partner. 1. The younger you are, the better If you have an idea for a startup but are not inclined...

  • Establishing your international startup anywhere

    There’s been a growing trend for startups to base themselves anywhere and have their employees scattered across the world, and in the process erase the concept of the old-school HQ. This trend seems to be even more prevalent for startups that operate online, with the WordPress/Automattic team being a great example. Over at WooThemes, our team is scattered across five different countries and we have a central office (which houses half of the team) in Cape Town, South Africa. Our whole business is online and we’re able to manage all of our daily activities from the comfort of our chosen...

  • 10 lessons for tech startups

    Having been involved in a number of web and tech startups from Vottle.com to a VoIP mobile startup under the auspices of Internet Solutions' ISLabs, I have been lucky enough to have worked with some very bright entrepreneurs, and have learnt some valuable lessons along the way. From Two-Minute noodles, to Darwin, to Ham-and-Egging, here are my 10 lessons for founders. 1. The Boot: Almost every business can be bootstrapped to start, and should be. Not even Google needed outside financing for its first couple of years. Superstar entrepreneurs have an uncanny knack of making money go...