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  • 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...

  • Company Office

    From operating under a tree, meet man who today owns Street Parking Solutions

    From running his business from under a tree in an abandoned parking lot in Claremont, Cape Town -- entrepreneur Zunade Loghdey today runs a parking management company that employs over 300 parking marshals. Loghdey's Street Parking Solutions (SPS) currently manages the City of Cape Town’s parking solutions in the city centre. In 2008 when he started SPS he took to managing just 100 parking bays in Claremont. At the time Loghdey (pictured above, right) could not afford an office. “I found an abandoned bowling green in Bowwood Road, Claremont, it’s still there today. The tree that you see in the parking lot is the tree that...

  • Is digital mood boarding startup SampleBoard a threat to Photoshop?

    Outside the world of design, the concept of "mood boarding" isn't well known, and yet, it's easy to acknowledge as something of value. Last year, a Google startup incubator awarded SampleBoard US$50 000 in seed funding and the tool is already a favourite among designers. So, what is a mood board? Before beginning work on a design, a designer uses different mediums -- text, pictures, and other objects -- to create a physical or digital collage that represents the direction of style being pursued for a commissioned product. This type of collage is called a mood board, and SampleBoard, allows...

  • Google’s Eric Schmidt: Nairobi could become the African tech leader

    Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has presented a summary of his Africa trip in which he said Kenya’s capital Nairobi was “a serious tech hub and may become the African leader”. Of his analysis on some of the Sub-Saharan cities he visited in a week of business meetings, Schmidt stated in a Google+ post that Nairobi’s incubators are hosting potential solutions to many problems, including connecting M-Pesa with payment systems for local stores. “Nairobi has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader. A combination of relatively stable politics, the British legal system, and a benign...

  • 16 cheap (and free) cloud services to help you run your business

    I am completely dependent on internet connectivity. Without it, I would have no business and I wouldn’t be able to use the services I need to run my business. For six years, I’ve been building my brand journalism business, Spark Media Solutions. In that process, I’ve been slowly moving away from non-cloud to cloud based solutions for a host of different reasons such as easy access to information wherever I am, backup, upgradeless software, and lower cost. This is the list of tools I use -- some of them I don’t use in their cloud form, but they have...

  • WooThemes enters online course market with Sensei WordPress plugin

    WordPress theme and extension developer, WooThemes, is entering the online course market through Sensei, the company's latest WordPress plugin. Launched earlier this week, Sensei -- previously code-named LMS -- integrates with WooCommerce, the WooThemes eCommerce platform. This means that teachers can create courses within WordPress, and then charge for them. Sensei integrates with existing WordPress themes and presents a familiar workflow -- creating a course or lesson is similar to creating a new page or post in WordPress. Sold as a learning management plugin, Sensei allows for the creation of quizzes and the setting of pre-requisite courses. Teachers can specify a...

  • Where are the women in African tech?

    This article by Hilda Moraa Morara originally appeared on Venture Capital for Africa, a Burn Media publishing partner. The clamour for innovation in the African society today is loud. In the era where there is a lot happening in ICT, innovation and entrepreneurship, why are there still very few women involved in these areas? Past research reports and workshops have openly addressed female participation issues and the need to build more capacity of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics); to give them a chance to contribute to the growth of the economy. According to an ongoing study conducted by...

  • Some good things in business are totally unanticipated and unexpected

    Adii Pienaar is co-founder of WordPress theme shop and ecommerce platform WooThemes. I’ve come to the conclusion that some good things in business are totally unanticipated and even more so - unexpected. Regardless of how big my ego is and how I rate myself as a strategist, visionary and leader within my company, some things are the results of the unknown and not my (or anyone on my team’s) doing. At least not consciously. Here’s an example: Two weeks ago we switched WooThemes' support helpdesk to use Zendesk instead. Within a week, our support numbers, capacity and performance were under control (in stark...

  • 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...

  • Bummed there is no Twitter on Mxit? Don’t fret now you have Tweetr

    As a platform, Mxit seems to be evolving. In the last year it has expanded the user experience by opening up its API and allowing third-party developers to build apps for the mobile social network. In December a third-party developer quietly launched Tweetr on Mxit, an app that allows users to browse tweets from Twitter's mobile site without the need for a Twitter account. "The decision to incorporate twitter into Mxit was a simple one. I knew there was demand for these two content segments and if we simplified accessibility to the content (that users are already searching for)...

  • Virtual incubation programme to be launched in East Africa

    InfoDev, a global grant programme run by the World Bank to promote ICT, has announced a pilot virtual incubation project to bring up businesses across East Africa. InfoDev said its new initiative is aimed at redefining the idea of incubation for business by providing tools for businesses in the rural areas as opposed to the urban areas such as witnessed across East Africa.The participating incubation labs will be required to recruit potential startup, incubate them through virtual startup support and even connect them with funding opportunities.“We are honored to contribute to this groundbreaking effort to bring virtual incubation services to...