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  • Crowd-funding pushes lone startup into spotlight

    Another crowdfunding project has hit South Africa's Angel investment landscape. Crowd-funding.co.za, a site aimed at raising money for startups in South Africa, recently launched. For those not in the know,crowdfunding is chiefly a product of the internet, where individuals come together to support private or commercial ventures. This follows a crowdfunding initiative by Eve Dmochowska, Crowdfund, which didn’t see the light of day. Dmochowska's project website has been shut down, and no further news has been heard from the founding members. Hopefully this new crowdfunding venture will fare better, and possibly reach the heights of successful sites such as Kickstarter, a successful...

  • Company Office

    Designing for emerging markets, the challenges businesses face in Africa

    Emerging markets are full of opportunity for the clever entrepreneur. Across Africa, Asia and South America are countries with millions of underserved consumers. These people may be living on very little, but their basic needs are similar to those of wealthier people in more developed countries. In their paper, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, C.K Prahalad and Stuart L. Hart explain that “low-income markets present a prodigious opportunity for the world’s wealthiest companies to seek their fortunes and bring prosperity to the poor.” This opportunity exists for any company, whether it’s wealthy or not. Designing for emerging markets,...

  • 8 Reasons hiring at a technology startup is tough

    I like to define a startup in a way that goes something like this: A startup in my world is a young company in a new, fast growing and evolving industry that could swing, change or be disrupted very quickly. The reason that it's relevant for me to lay out how I define a startup is because this definition is extremely important when considering hiring a team. It is often not as simple as hiring the best person for the job. It's much deeper and more complicated than a simple contract with leave allowances and a stable income. Hiring is tough...

  • Chirpify looks to bring commerce to Twitter

    Twitter is a great platform for businesses, journalists and everyday people. We all know that. But what may not have occurred to you is that it could also be an incredibly useful commerce platform. At least one company was thinking differently to you. A Portland, Oregon based startup called Chirpify claims that it “turns tweets into transactions, enabling consumers and businesses to buy, sell, donate and transact on Twitter.” Although founded in 2011, the company only officially launched its product today. Chirpify’s product effectively integrates your Twitter account with PayPal, allowing you to make a variety of transactions over the...

  • 6 Things every startup should watch out for before signing with an investor

    "Yes, we would like to invest". The magic words that any startup owner loves to hear. Your idea is no longer just a seed in the back of your mind; it is about to be watered allowing it to blossom into the reality you always knew it could be. After the celebratory high fives and handshakes followed by the compulsory boozy lunch with your new best ‘investor’ friend, a term sheet or funding agreement arrives to formalise your relationship. The agreement is rather lengthy and contains some legal jargon; defining exactly when is the last day of the month, is important....

  • How do VCs get their money? They pitch too

    Every two or three years, VC's gear up to raise money for their next fund. They create a pitch deck, come up with a list of investors actively investing in venture capital funds, make sure they get introductions to them from trusted sources -- or go direct if they already have the relationship, and pitch the investment strategy and how they plan to provide better returns than the industry average. Sound familiar? For established funds with a solid track record (an established team with a specific investment style and realised returns on previous investments) it can be as easy...

  • FNB becomes first bank to add official support for 22Seven

    At least one major South African bank appears to have changed its tune on financial management app 22Seven. First National bank (FNB) has issued a press release claiming that it will "allow access to 22Seven". The bank claims that it made the decision as part of an "ongoing attempt to create simple and convenient solutions for its customers". "FNB has set a precedence of responding to our customer's needs with innovative products and services. We are now providing a secure means to engage with 22Seven in response to our customers’ need to learn more about their financial behavior,”...

  • ZiNG wants to shake up the Mobile IM space

    The mobile Instant Messaging (IM) space already has a number of big players -- think MXit, WhatsApp, Facebook chat... the list goes on. But at least one new player thinks it can make an impact by playing to the business world. A company called Blazingchilli is looking to utilise the opportunities inherent in the mobile IM space to leverage its new enterprise level messaging platform -- ZiNG. The technology at the heart of ZiNG is called Multiple Group Messaging (MGM) and Blazingchilli claims that it offers "the most powerful tool available" for reaching consumers, particularly in emerging markets. In...

  • 10 Hot Indian startups you should know about

    From the world’s cheapest car to the world’s cheapest tablet, India has emerged as a hub of "Jugaad", a Hindi term which closely translates as "frugal innovation". Owing to its booming economy, growing middle class and a talent pool of highly skilled engineers, India has a thriving tech startup ecosystem. While there are thousands of startups across the country, we bring you a compilation of tech startups that have risen above the rest to be the talking points in the startup-technology community. Based on my conversations and interactions with entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders, these startups are shaping the way...

  • 9 Questions and answers about successful startups – Harvard study

    Ever wondered what makes one startup succeed while another fails? Well a team of brains from Harvard Business School has put together a fascinating working paper called Performance Persistence in Entrepreneurship which answers questions related to just this. We scoured the 35 page document and found the following pearls of wisdom. Question: Are serial entrepreneurs more likely to succeed than first time entrepreneurs? Answer: Yes. All things being equal, the paper states that a VC backed entrepreneur who succeeds in a venture (by the paper’s definition, starts a company that goes public) has a 30% chance of succeeding in a follow up...

  • New York VC invests in Fine Art startup

    A New York-based early-stage VC fund called Founder Collective is taking an unusual bet on a niche online market: Fine Art. According to TechCrunch, the company is investing a cool US$4-million in Paddle8 -- an online marketplace that aims to provide people “With new access points to premier artworks”. Founder Collective is reportedly no stranger to investing in niche tech markets, having previously put capital into luxury vehicle hire app Uber and open-source hardware outfit MakerBot. Paddle8 says it hopes the capital infusion will allow it to position itself as a destination of choice for everyone from beginner to...