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  • The hows and the whats — 5 tough questions VCs ask

    Over the past six months I have spoken with a wide variety of people who have shown, in varying degrees, interest in investing in my company. Many of these VCs have specific ways that they conduct a call, interview or meeting. Many of them have lead me down long and wasteful due diligence processes, many have been kind, some have been blunt and harsh but all have been pedantic and specific about the types of questions they ask. I have found that, on the whole, the questions are standard and the steps straight-forward but there are always the tough questions...

  • Company Office

    Colosseum Luxury Hotel and MzansiStore Announce Joint Venture

    Hotel and e-Commerce store announce the opening of a pop-up store Cape Town, South Africa – The renowned Colosseum Luxury Hotel and MzansiStore have announced their plans to enter into a joint venture through the opening of a pop-up store. MzansiStore is an e-Commerce platform that supports local producers of handcrafted products. A selection of the store’s goods, which are usually only available online, will be showcased and made available for purchase at the Colosseum hotel as of 16 July 2014. Deidre Luzmore started MzansiStore in September 2012 after noticing that there was a substantial amount of small-scale South African...

  • New virtual prepaid card looks to bring online shopping to the masses

    There was a time when you needed a credit card to shop online. Then a few pioneers engaged in some technical wizardry and brought out products that allowed you do use your debit card. But what if you have neither? A solution that allows for people who don’t have either to shop online would be particularly useful in emerging market economies, where large numbers of people might not have credit cards. Triloq Payment Services claims to have developed precisely such a solution in the guise of a “simple, single-use virtual prepaid card system called 1-2-Pay-Online”. The product was...

  • 5 Tips for taking your tech startup from big idea to business success

    Throughout the world, and particularly in emerging market countries, the entrepreneurial landscape remains notoriously difficult to navigate, with an estimated 80% of small businesses failing to sustain themselves for a period of longer than five years. However, with an increasing percentage of jobs now being directly attributable to small business ventures, financial backers in both private and public sectors are slowly starting to acknowledge the substantial impact of entrepreneurial activity on a nation’s economy. Yet, in spite the rising global trend towards venture capitalist backing of tech startups, there remain very few such initiatives present in emerging markets. Can this...

  • Why you should network when raising funds for your tech venture

    The value of attending networking events is often hard to quantify, as it takes valuable time, but it is worth the effort especially if you are considering starting your own business; building an innovative product or trying to raise funding. Funders invest in companies and founders they know Although we receive many proposals through our website at the VC firm I'm part of, all of the deals that we have concluded (i.e. invested in) to date, have been sourced through our networks. An essential part of our business is the relationships that we’ve been building and nurturing with various suppliers and...

  • From R50m to nothing: Lessons from the Global Vision story

    You hear this quite a bit in the start-up world: The thing about technology companies, or any company for that matter, is you have to “fail to succeed”. Many venture capitalists won’t invest in an entrepreneur who hasn’t failed at least once. Some start-ups rise from the ashes to develop into successful businesses. This is not always the case. Some fail, others thrive, some just evolve. Jon Jacobson, founder of high-profile Cape Town start-up Global Vision, rose to the top of his game, creating a company worth well over R45-million and employing around 90 people at its peak....

  • Evrythng: The company that wants to bring…everything online

    People have been promising us The Internet of Things for some time now (the term dates back all the way to 1999). But so far we don’t seem to have moved much further than TVs and domestic appliances. A UK and Switzerland-based company called Evrythng wants to change all that and take the Internet of Things to well...everything. The term essentially refers uniquely identifiable objects (things) and their virtual representations in an internet-like structure. As its name suggests, Evrythng has pretty grandiose ambitions. Its raison d’etre is written boldly across the front page of the site:...

  • If your Facebook store failed, don’t blame Facebook, blame yourself

    I worryingly read a slew of articles over the weekend about the shuttering of numerous big-brand F-commerce sites. My issue with most of these closing is that few had good KVP (key value propositions) for the user and now the entire ecosystem is getting painted a very ugly colour. In light of Open Graph just coming onto the scene I’m surprised at these big brands’ quick plug-pulling behaviour. Let’s review history: be honest, most of these companies put up their websites (or some fraction thereof) on Facebook and gave no real reason for people to buy from it...

  • Gatfol: Google, Yahoo! and Bing are OK, we can make them better

    Search engines get you the results you want 80% of the time. That's according to a South African startup called Gatfol (pronounced Gat fole, not like the Afrikaans Gatvol) which will soon be launching its first product to help you get closer to 100%. Gatfol may seem like an odd name for a startup, but its US patented semantic search algorithm certainly isn’t. Rooted in natural language processing or NLP, the free Gatfol browser plug-in will attempt to optimise your search queries by making them as concise as possible. NLP, if you’re not familiar with the subject, is the field...

  • 22seven launch: How the Mint experience differed

    The recent launch of online money management system 22seven has raised a fair amount of controversy around allowing third-party applications to access user banking details. The innovative startup is the brainchild of Twenty20 founder Christo Davel, and is billed as an "intelligent money-saving tool" that plugs directly and securely into users' personal bank accounts and then delivers analysis on spending habits. It’s one of the sexiest start-ups to launch on the African continent, with VC from multiple investors. The “startup” bears some resemblance to US-based money management system Mint.com, which was launched five years ago following a bid...

  • AngelHub: Investors come together to foster startup growth

    You may believe tech creates jobs, you may believe it destroys jobs. Whatever the case, we know that in the tech world we are seeing entrepreneurial activity like never before. It’s not surprising that there is so much written about venture capital and startups in the tech world, and that there are so many incubators popping up Enter AngelHub. Launched in September of last year, AngelHub connects early stage investors with capital seekers. The funds, expertise and networks of its group of angel investors and founders, aim to create an environment that is conducive to sustainable entrepreneurial success. Although...