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  • VC-backed programme to boost early-stage high-growth investment

    The UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) is teaming up with growth equity fund manager Knife Capital to launch a new education programme to promote the development of early-stage, high growth entrepreneurial activity in the City of Cape Town. Why Cape Town? Well, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) research at the UCT GSB, Cape Town is ranked as the most entrepreneurial city in South Africa, with early-stage entrepreneurial activity 190% greater than South Africa’s national average. “Johannesburg might be seen as the corporate capital, but there is a tremendous amount of momentum in the early stage entrepreneurial...

  • Company Office

    Banking Africa's Unbanked - Time For A Reality Check

    Plenty of progress has been made on increasing the size of Africa’s banked population. The trouble is, from the amount of noise that is made about the topic, you would be forgiven for thinking we had fixed the problem when we really haven’t. According to the World Bank, today, 62 per cent of the world’s population has a bank account. In 2011 that figure was 51 per cent. In three years, 700 million people became “banked” in some way, and the number of “unbanked” individuals dropped 20 per cent to two billion adults. Much of this progress was attributed to...

  • Konza City: Kenya’s ‘Silicon Savannah’ will break ground in January 2013

    The long wait appears to be over. Work on Kenya's much-anticipated Konza Technology City is set to commence on 23 January. Investment banker John Ngumi will lead the project, and preside over the Konza Technopolis Development Authority which will track and regulate the city’s development. Development of Kenya's multi-billion dollar technopolis was scheduled to start in 2011, but was postponed to April this year due to a land allocation controversy, slow approvals and a lack of private investor interest. Since then, boosted by a KSh16 billion (US$192 million) investment from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the project has managed to...

  • How tech entrepreneurship is driving development and innovation in Africa

    In just the past five years, Africa’s mobile phone market has rapidly expanded to become larger than either the EU or the United States with some 650-million subscribers. At the same time, internet bandwidth has grown 20-fold as hundreds of thousands of kilometres of new cables have been laid across the continent to serve an increasing number of its one billion citizens. The new access is quickly changing lives, driving entrepreneurship fuelled in part by collaborative technology hubs, and delivering innovation and home-grown solutions for the continent. Technology entrepreneurship is increasingly seen as a driver for development. A new report...

  • How do Chinese and US online retailers differ? [Quora]

    This question originally appeared on Quora, and the answers that follow were provided by Ben Chiang, Adventure Capitalist, Zach Brown, a Texan in China, and Grady Ha, marketing and strategy consultant. Ben Chiang Ben Chiang, Adventure Capitalist I’d highlight three major characteristics: 1. Market dominance Taobao/affiliates have dominated Chinese e-commerce since it began. Taobao is a C2C eBay-like site, T-Mall is a B2C Amazon-like site, and Alipay is a PayPal-like payment service. They have had 70 to 100 percent market share since their inception. Only recently have other sites emerged, such as 360Buy (which has raised well over $1 billion in...

  • Music startups: your entire product is probably just a feature

    If startups have a one in 10 chance of surviving, music startups’ odds must be one in 10 000. The industry’s most famous success story, Napster, is also its most famous failure. And aside from Last.fm, which sold to CBS in 2007 for US$280-million, few have successfully exited since. It’s a prickly, difficult industry that’s as attractive as it is impossible. Peter Kafka noted as much last week when he questioned the logic of anyone launching a music startup in 2012, citing the incredibly high burn rate it takes to get to any sort of scale. This is true — the cost...

  • 4 key survival tips for early-stage startups

    Regardless of where you live, starting up a business and growing it through its early stages is difficult. As the chief strategy officer for SoftLayer, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor hundreds (if not thousands) of entrepreneurs and startups who were selected to join our Catalyst Startup Program, so I often find myself responding to questions about everything from business mechanics and corporate culture in Canada to conflict resolution and branding in Europe. Every startup faces unique trials and tribulations, but I’ve noticed that there is a universality to the challenge of keeping a new business alive through the...

  • Seed Engine: a lifeline for idea-stage ventures

    While the US is seeing a downturn in Series A tech startup funding, 2012 has been a bumper year for seed/angel deals. In more risk averse arenas like South Africa, the feeling is that investors have traditionally been reluctant to throw money at idea-stage startups without active revenue streams. That's what makes Seed Engine, a new early-stage startup accelerator and incubator, so intriguing. In exchange for equity, 10 startups will receive R100 000 startup capital to turn their ideas into business plans, with the wind of three 13-week accelerator bootcamps at their backs. At the end of the programme, the...

  • Which industries will see the heaviest VC interest in 2013?

    If you're staring 2013 in the eyes, trying to figure out whether or not your new venture is likely to attract VC investment in the new year, you might be interested in the findings presented in the 2012 Global Venture Capital Confidence Survey. The survey, conducted earlier this year by Deloitte & Touche LLP and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), shows which industries have attracted the most VC attention in 2012. Deloitte says that general partners with assets under management ranging from less than US$50 million to greater than US$10 billion were polled in the following regions: the...

  • If Twitter had Evernote’s baby it would look like Life Note

    If you're looking for a lightweight version of über note taking app Evernote, you might want to take a look at Life Note, a quirky, Twitter-esque web application developed by Cape Town-based web entrepreneur Ian Whiteley. Whiteley thinks of Life Note as "your brain online," useful for storing information you may want to recall later. The service focuses on notes and tasks currently, and although it doesn't have video and image upload functionality, it does support links to files stored on services such as Dropbox, Google Docs and SkyDrive. Whiteley, who worked as product manager at Vodacom and Virgin Mobile, developed...

  • Sable Accelerator signs agreements with SA tech ventures, funds and groups

    The SABLE Accelerator, a recently formed mentoring network of South African experts living in Silicon Valley and other technology hubs, today announced new partner and portfolio company agreements during a visit to South Africa by two of its co-founders. Aimed at activating and engaging South Africa’s untapped brains trust and knowledge network of expatriate assets around the world, The SABLE Accelerator was launched in August this year to help the country be more competitive in realising a better return on innovation and entrepreneurship across both the private and public sectors. The international partnership group is dedicated to helping South African entrepreneurs,...