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  • U-Start: connecting investors with emerging market ventures

    International funding platforms with their sights set on emerging markets are coming in thick and fast. U-start, a new online platform from Italy, matches entrepreneurs with investors through its growing footprint of networks in Kenya, Russia and now, South Africa. While U-Start also intends to serve areas of Europe with smaller startup eco-systems, its 2013 roadmap shows significant emerging market intent with further expansion planned for South America, India, Asia, and Africa. When entering a new region, U-Start partners with local businesses, academia, investors and entrepreneurial communities to develop its target markets. In South Africa for example, U-Start has partnerships with...

  • Company Office

    SA founder of Fintech platform Prodigy Finance announces over R3bn fundraise

    International fintech platform Prodigy Finance, which has developed the world’s first borderless credit model, today (21 August 2017) announced a R3.19-billion fundraise. The amount includes a R532-million Series-C equity round led by venture capital firm Index Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital and AlphaCode; and a R2.66-billion debt facility led by a global investment bank. The company, which has 126 staff across offices in London, Cape Town, and New York, offers loans to postgraduate students accepted into business, engineering, law and public policy degrees at the world’s top universities, such as Harvard, Oxford, INSEAD and the University of Cape Town. Since it was established in 2007, the company has provided more...

  • 8 mobile ventures get $2.4 million from Knight Foundation

    The Knight Foundation has announced the latest winners of its news challenge. The media innovation challenge is aimed at getting startups to build applications that can be used in a newsroom. This year's theme was mobile, and the projects were quite focused on the developing world where mobile is king. Most of the chosen projects focus on using mobile to get news and information in emerging markets. Veteran information dispenser, Wikipedia, will develop new tools to allow people to access articles and knowledge via text message in different languages. The project is part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s bigger remit to...

  • Q&A: Vinny Lingham on Gyft, the festive season and living in Silicon Valley

    South African technology entrepreneur Vinny Lingham is not resting on his laurels despite the success of Yola and it having raised US$25 million from Johan Rupert’s Reinet Investments. His latest venture, Gyft, seeks to “disrupt” the multi-billion dollar gift card industry.Gyft is a “Mobile Gift Card Platform” that aims to enable customers to “upload, buy and redeem gift cards conveniently from their mobile device”.Gift cards are a US$100 billion industry in the USA alone, which is partially the reason why Google Ventures, Founder Collective and 500 Startups have funded this private company.The other reason could be Lingham’s track record as a...

  • Pastel enters the personal finance game

    Pastel My Money is joining the likes of Moneysmart, 22seven and Nedbank in an all out barroom brawl for personal finance management supremacy. Softline Pastel, a trusted name in South African accounting software is launching a new online play. For those that remain circumspect of online finance management tools -- for whatever reason -- Pastel's cachet could do well to galvanise interest. Like its competitors Pastel My Money allows you to manage transactions and track spending on your various bank accounts. The service can import bank statements from an unlimited number of internet bank and credit card accounts. Each profile allows...

  • Studentology’s mobile payment app attracts international investor attention

    In November last year, eleven promising startups boarded a plane bound for London where they would be introduced to potential investors and mentors. The eleven, chosen as part of Silicon Cape's incubation programme, pitched to a panel of investors that included the Mamba Mentors, a group of South African expats who were also involved in previous pitching rounds. One of the startups, Studentology, a student marketing company with a mobile payment solution, caught the eye of Mamba member, Haji Chana. Chana has a background in private equity, management consulting and investment banking, having worked at Blackstone Group, Mckinsey & Company...

  • Win a copy of Richard Branson’s book ‘Screw Business as Usual’

    If you're looking for business advice, super entrepreneur Richard Branson seems like a good place to start. In his book 'Screw Business as Usual', the Virgin founder touches on the revolution in standard practice, discussing how doing the right thing may be profitable -- as well as better for humanity. The book has been called a must read for anyone from entrepreneurs to social activists, and explains why priorities need to shift from just making money to making a difference. Branson explains that he has "written this book for those who, at the same time as wanting to develop...

  • Taking stock of South African eCommerce after the 2012 holidays

    Shortly before Christmas last year, we took a look at changing attitudes towards online shopping in South Africa. The Visa eCommerce Tracker Survey revealed a gradual expansion of online purchasing over the course of the year, while some shoppers still remained apprehensive due to concerns about shipping or handling fees, that goods wouldn’t arrive on time, and worries that goods would not arrive as per specifications. As we begrudgingly stow away our Christmas decorations, we take a look at the eCommerce landscape after the holidays and where it's headed in 2013. According to a study presented last year by research...

  • Meet Tiki: the startup aspiring to be Vietnam’s answer to Amazon

    Ask anyone in Vietnam who the popular online bookstores are in the country and chances are they will point you to Tiki.vn. The e-commerce startup was founded in 2010 by Son Tran. Today Tiki.vn not only sells books but also other products like toys and apparel, making the same sort of expansion in product offerings that Amazon did. Tran’s first experience with e-commerce was actually with Vinabook, which is also an online bookstore. He worked there from 2009 to 2010. He described his experience as a positive, educational one. However, back then Vinabook was very focused on books in Vietnamese. But Tran, who...

  • Delphix: a standout startup with standout leadership

    I meet with huge numbers of companies every year but it's rare for me to come across a company that excites me as much as Delphix. Delphix founder Jed Yueh is just 37 years old and will undoubtably become one of Silicon Valley's next generation of leaders and success stories. His focus, his discipline, and his intellect are striking -- and it's these qualities of leadership that sets Delphix apart from the many thousands of startups in the extraordinary global innovation engine that is Silicon Valley. I visited the company earlier this year shortly after it had raised $25 million in...

  • The opposite test: how to tell if your business is worth talking about

    The way most businesses talk about their advantages is so boring. How many companies are "the best", "faster", "biggest", "most trusted", and so on? These vague adjectives that we use to describe our businesses are meaningless and boring to customers, and they give no good reason to actually prefer your brand over another. If you'd like to craft a better differentiator, one that may even affect what you do and how you do it, then ask yourself: Are any of your competitors doing the opposite of what you claim to be doing? The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel in Amsterdam passes...