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  • Must watch: Faux startup Vooza pokes fun at startup culture

    Gameface solemnly shelved, Ventureburn takes a breath to celebrate two videos that brilliantly spoof our bizarre and wonderful startup culture. The first video, released recently, sees an anodyne narrator -- tongue firmly in cheek -- hazily describe its fictitious (we think?) company called Vooza, while bandying about buzz terms like “crowdsourcing”, acronyms like API and S3, and hip development frameworks such as Ruby on Rails. There’s name dropping by means of tech investor slash celebrity, Ashton Kutcher and a mention of startup incubator, Y Combinator -- that rejected them, apparently. How about a revenue model? Vooza thinks revenue is a journey...

  • Company Office

    Digital Agency Creative Spark expands to Johannesburg, opens up new office in Sandton

    Full-service digital marketing and development agency Creative Spark has opened up a permanent office inSandton, Johannesburg, to support its growing client base in Gauteng and complement the company’s existing Cape Town head office. The new branch is currently being headed up by Creative Spark’s Head of Digital Marketing, Melissa Chetty, who has been with the company almost since its inception – and who has been part of the company’s growth from startup to a mid-sized digital agency. The Johannesburg team now includes account management, digital content producers, project management staff and some development capability and supplements the 45-strong staff complement based...

  • What is an entrepreneur? Why are you one?

    ENTREPRENEUR – What the hell does it really mean and what right do you have to call yourself one… and how is the blatant promotion of ‘go-it-aloneship’ affecting the SA digital industry? Entrepreneur. It’s a word we see and hear bandied about everywhere at the moment, everyone is one, or is being told they should be one. If you do a quick search on Twitter as to the number of people who include the title of ‘entrepreneur’ in their profile, it’s a wonder how the global economy is in such a precarious position given how many of these ‘entrepreneurs’ are...

  • Blueseed: The seaborne startup incubator

    Immigration laws are tedious and work visas are expensive, especially for foreign entrepreneurs wanting to work in the US. Max Marty and Blueseed cofounder Dario Mutabdzija, aware of this fact, are ambitiously hacking the system to bring talented foreign startups closer to Silicon Valley. How? By drawing up plans for floating office space, 12 nautical miles off the coast of California. The idea of cities at sea have long been the fodder of libertarians and climate watchers, but Blueseed is the first to utilise the so-called “contiguous zone” for fostering startup growth. Marty and Mutabdzija, both formerly of the Seasteading...

  • South Africa’s mobile messaging services industry to get a shake up

    South Africa's mobile services industry is apparently getting a shake up. According to Panacea Mobile, a mobile a services company, 40% of SMS campagins sent to customers fail to deliver due to incorrect or out-dated information. Since companies can send millions of messages in a month, the cost for these undelivered messages can be compounded tremendously. The company aims to rectify this. The startup claims to offer South African companies a unique number validation tool which "will take the guesswork out of mobile messages and cut down on the number of undelivered messages significantly". The number validation service uses...

  • Naspers set to go on Eastern European buying spree

    Emerging markets internet giant Naspers has some serious expansion plans, with an eye on Eastern Europe in particular. Naspers CEO Koos Bekker told Bloomberg that the US$18-billion company was hoping to add between 10 and 20 companies to it's already extensive portfolio of internet businesses. “We see some investment opportunities in the ecommerce space, although opportunities are lower than we’ve had in the past,” Bekker said, adding that the company would take its pick from 100-200 potential acquisitions. That's down from the nearly 300 the company had looked at every year for the past two years. In its earnings...

  • Will the real African startups please stand up?

    With so much focus on advancing the entrepreneurial ecosystems around African startup hubs at the moment, more and more Africans are starting their own businesses by choice as opposed to necessity. But, not all interesting ventures that launch can automatically claim ‘startup’ status. While the essence of successful innovation-driven Silicon Valley startups can be found in the African spirit of Ubuntu, African ventures are still mostly backed by efficiency-driven entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, game-changing startups from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana have led the technology revolution on the continent with homegrown innovations, highlighting the contribution Africa can make as an emerging market...

  • What’s the next billion dollar idea?

    A couple of months ago, Facebook acquired the wildly popular photo sharing social network, Instagram, for a cool US$1-billion. Popular yes, profitable? Nope. With zero revenue to speak of, hacker-CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw something in Instagram and its thirteen employees that justified spending a chunk of Facebook’s newly acquired change after its record-breaking, yet troubled IPO. What’s the next billion dollar idea? It’s anyone’s guess, but here are our favourites. Pinterest Pinterest, the social scrapbooking darling has seen its user base shoot past the 104 million mark in March. Just one year ago, the site was managing a comparatively meager 500...

  • Mobile payment solution Gust bursts into beta

    Mobile payment solutions Square and PayPal Here have yet to enter Africa and with the gap left wide open, we're seeing startups stepping forward to stake a claim. Three distinctly different non-NFC mobile payment solutions, all currently operating in stealth mode, are on Ventureburn's radar: the card-free, pin-entry system from Ching Payments, the Square-like card-reader solution from CheqOut and now, a Wi-Fi geo-fence startup called Gust. When Ventureburn's sister site, Memeburn, first wrote about Gust, the company was on track to deliver a beta in June of this year. The Gust app should be available in the Apple App Store...

  • What Steve Jobs can teach us about hacking charisma

    Olivia Fox Cabane makes her living by teaching people the skills needed to be charismatic, influential and persuasive. During her career, she’s been invited to speak at Harvard, MIT, Google and the United Nations. And through her new book, The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism, Cabane wants to change the way you think about charisma. While most people think charisma is so something you’re either born with it or you’re not, Cabane believes that charisma is nothing more than a set of attitudes, skills and behaviours that can not only be practiced...

  • 6 breakthrough startups set to disrupt the news industry

    In April this year, Memeburn picked ten innovative Knight News Challenge entries that had the potential to propel the news industry forward. The “Networks" leg of the competition required entrants to innovate on top of existing social media and other services to create new ways for informing and engaging communities. The Knight Foundation recently announced the winners of the first round at the MIT-Knight Civic Media Conference. The winning ventures will receive US$1.37-million in funding as well as support from the Knight Foundation’s network of peers and advisers. The second round of the competition aims to spur innovation in its “Data"...