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Venture capital

  • Meet 8 of Russia’s top VC firms

    Being a part of the Russians doesn’t mean you get a free bottle Russki Standard at tech events. Unfortunately. But what it does mean, is that you join a massive group of incredibly talented programmers and hackers and recently business-savvy tech folks, together with a whopping 150-million people all sitting in their warm homes tapping away at their keyboards. The Russian tech scene has exploded in the last five years, with companies like search engine Yandex completing an IPO on the NYSE and startups popping out of the snow like daisies in Namaqualand. A quick word on Yandex – it...

  • China’s startup scene needs more Angel investors says tech mogul Lei Jun

    Lei Jun wears many hats -- he’s Xiaomi CEO, the board chair at Kingsoft and an Angel investor -- and is one of the most respected figures in China’s tech industry. As one of the wildly successful Xiaomi co-founders, he’s also someone worth listening to when it comes to China’s startup scene. In a recent interview, the Beijing News asked him what he thought the differences were between Silicon Valley and China. Here’s what he said: The biggest difference in the startup environment between and the US is that China doesn’t have enough Angel investors, and there is...

  • 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...

  • 18 questions you should ask a VC before you sign your startup away

    So you have been lucky: your idea is the next Google and investors have decided put a pile of money into it. This is all good news -- after all, it is not easy to impress venture capitalists. Building a company from scratch is a very difficult business and you need to be prepared. Choosing the right VC is a tough decision. I was once told by a VC that the relationship between a startup and its VC is very much like a marriage. It is a long-term commitment that is full of struggles and disagreements and it is quite...

  • 10 VCs you should be pitching to right now

    So you're a startup, and you have a great idea. In fact, your idea is going to change the world. It's better than Facebook. But you have no money. You need a venture capital firm to take pity on your poor soul (and make a truck load of cash from your great idea). South Africa's venture capital space is growing quite nicely. With startups funded by the country's firms exiting to big multinationals like Visa, it's no wonder the startup scene in South Africa has a seemingly cool visage. In the last year more than 30 startups received funding, won...

  • Series A crunch blah blah… Get over it. Learn from Africa’s example

    If you are a startup junkie (yes there is such a thing), chances are you have been hearing about the ominous Series A crunch. It's all anyone seems to be talking about these days -- the doomed startups that must find new ways to fund their businesses, the possible ways to do this and the investors giving advice on how to survive the dreaded crunch. The issue is so important that Forbes has posted two articles arguing opposite points. The general consensus on the crunch debate is that where the ratio between seed funding and Series A used to be...

  • How to sell a high-risk startup to skittish investors

    Exhibit A: a startup with an inexperienced leadership team enters a business sector with notoriously high failure rates: the food service industry. On paper, the startup is likely to be classified as a high-risk venture, signalling a gloomy fundraising outlook -- but it doesn't have to be that way, says veteran startup mentor, angel investor and founder of Startup Professionals, Martin Zwilling. The key to defying the odds, says Zwilling, is for the startup to acknowledge and address its challenges in its business case and investor presentation. The worst the startup can do is to hope that its weaknesses fall...

  • 2012 startups in review: funding, competition winners and acquisitions

    Despite a struggling global economy and a notable downturn in Series A funding in the US, 2012 left a veritable smorgasbord of startup deals, competitions and acquisitions in its wake. With our birds-eye view of the activity in emerging markets, especially sub-Saharan Africa, we wrote about many of this year's deals. We covered startup competitions and talked to their finalists and we watched with glee as startups successfully completed mega government deals and got snapped up by bigger fish. New incubators popped up, helping brilliant early-stage startups take root. New venture funds came into existence and existing ones became larger, expanding...

  • VC-backed programme to boost early-stage high-growth investment

    The UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) is teaming up with growth equity fund manager Knife Capital to launch a new education programme to promote the development of early-stage, high growth entrepreneurial activity in the City of Cape Town. Why Cape Town? Well, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research at the UCT GSB, Cape Town is ranked as the most entrepreneurial city in South Africa, with early-stage entrepreneurial activity 190%...

  • 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...