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  • Event tech startup Virtuvent to ‘set industry standard’ and ‘spark copy-cats’

    If you've ever watched a stable, HD webcast of a product announcement, easily registered for an event or enjoyed a high-speed internet connection while venturing around a trade show floor, you'll appreciate the companies that work behind the scenes to make it all work efficiently. Virtuvent, an events tech company with a strong South African connection, has a unique, integrated approach and some notable events under its belt. Officially launched in October last year, Virtuvent is a B2B startup that targets large or enterprise events, with cloud-based software to manage the logistics, communications and video of the events. It's...

  • 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...

  • Why African tech entrepreneurs need to learn from each other

    “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” – John Cotton Dana Learn. Teach. Two words that startups and members of tech hubs should breathe and live out if they are to succeed. Having travelled to different hubs in Kenya and Africa through an ongoing study by iHub Research; ‘Understanding African ICT Hubs model and impact to its startups/members’ , I can testify the modus operandi of the startups in the tech hubs is akin. They are operating in a high-risk environment, with little capital, a dearth of business skills e.g. marketing; but are great techies who can code...

  • ValuationUP: the startup that could save your business

    We first heard about ValuationUP, the financial performance analysis, benchmarking and valuation tool for SMBs when it won the Ignite startup competition at African innovation conference, Tech4Africa, last year. The South African team behind ValuationUP, Gareth Ochse and Kenneth Kalmer believe their startup will help people -- even those without financial backgrounds -- benchmark the financial performance of the ventures they are growing, selling, buying or advising. Research suggests that a high percentage of startups fail -- some estimate 75%, depending on how failure is defined. "Startups often fail because founders and investors neglect to look before they leap, surging...

  • Could an SMS purchasing startup help stop online fraud?

    Any online retailer will tell you in no uncertain terms that fraud, specifically by using credit cards online, is a huge challenge for them and their competitors. Not only are these retailers often liable for the chargebacks caused by fraud, but it creates a negative impact on the online buying industry as a whole. Over the festive break, a number of people have sent emails asking about making online transactions via other means -- in other words not using credit cards. They asked: Can we make payments from our bank accounts directly? Can we buy with our mobile phone accounts? Those...

  • Entrepreneurs speak about their motivations for 2013

    What motivates entrepreneurs building great companies in Africa? At VC4Africa, the largest online community of African entrepreneurs and investors, ‘creating better lives’ and ‘feeling you can change the world’ come out as the most popular motivations in its recent poll on the subject. Are you in it for the money, or for another reason? The survey we circulated in the Venture Capital for Africa community indicates many African entrepreneurs are triggered by social motives. A whopping 68% of the respondents chose ‘creating better lives’ and ‘feeling you can change the world’ as what motivates them the most as an entrepreneur....

  • 2012 startups in review: funding, competition winners and acquisitions

    Despite a struggling global economy and a notable downturn in Series A funding in the US, 2012 left a veritable smorgasbord of startup deals, competitions and acquisitions in its wake. With our birds-eye view of the activity in emerging markets, especially sub-Saharan Africa, we wrote about many of this year's deals. We covered startup competitions and talked to their finalists and we watched with glee as startups successfully completed mega government deals and got snapped up by bigger fish. New incubators popped up, helping brilliant early-stage startups take root. New venture funds came into existence and existing ones became larger, expanding...

  • 2012’s top 10 most popular startups on Ventureburn

    Which were the 10 most popular startups on Ventureburn this year? We're glad you asked. To compile this list we trawled through our logs and found the startup stories that generated the most views. Let us know what your favourite startups were. Mimiboard Umuntu Media's Mimiboards seemed to grab people's attention in a big way. We took a look at how the geographically sensitive, virtual noticeboards form part of an emerging publishing platform, social network and advertising empire that earned Umuntu Media a US$1 million seed investment late last year. Härnu We found Härnu to be something unique and called it "map-based social...

  • Is online buying via SMS possible?

    For people in emerging markets like South Africa to buy online, they pretty much have to use a bank card of some sort. And while fraud, online security and chargebacks all add to the difficulties that both consumers and merchants experience, there are many companies and startups trying to crack the mobile payments industry. This is simply because many more people are browsing content rich ecommerce websites on their smartphones. But recently someone asked me: why not simply let people buy via SMS? If I wanted to pay for a R100 t-shirt online, I should be able to SMS a...

  • The unwritten rules of Silicon Valley

    Around the world Silicon Valley is admired for its prolific startup ecosystem. Some regions attempt to emulate its success by design, while others try to distill its essence or dissect its makeup. While the various regions from which startup ecosystems emerge often shape the culture or challenges their communities face, there is undoubtedly knowledge to be gained from the relatively tiny spot on America's West coast that has produced roughly 30 Fortune 500 companies. So what are the things we can learn from Silicon Valley and its successful startups that you won't find in books? Which unwritten rules does its entrepreneurs...

  • Avoid the ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ mantra, do one thing

    Adii Pienaar is co-founder of WordPress theme shop and ecommerce platform WooThemes. We live in a time where we are always trying to work more, be more efficient, increase our productivity. We strive to do more, so we get involved in more projects & take on tasks & to do’s that aren’t that important. Heck, everyone has a side-project these days. I guess we’ve become so used to diversification. "Don’t put your eggs into one basket," says your investment manager. So instead of putting more money into AAPL (which has made you good money until now), you find lesser stocks just for...