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  • Alan Knott-Craig Jr on birthing World of Avatar, sealing the Mxit deal

    In the third and final extract from his book "Mobinomics", South African entrepreneur Alan Knott-Craig Jr details how he took World of Avatar from concept to company. As was the case with some of his previous ventures, there were speedbumps along the way. At one point Knott-Craig had less than R2 000 to his name and kept the business afloat with emergency loans. Slowly though, things began to turn around, until he was ready to make another play for Mxit: Africa's largest social network. Things began to move at the speed of lightning. Pete’s development team moved to Stellenbosch, bringing...

  • Company Office

    Zapacab Releases the Simplest App to Order a Taxi

    Cape Town mobile taxi ordering startup Zapacab has released native apps for Android and iOS devices. This is in response to passengers demand for “clever, easy to use apps”. Zapacab initially launched their product on mobile browsers to allow all passengers the easiest access to ordering a cab. With the majority of users being Android and iPhone users, the requests for a slicker app-based experience have been numerous. Chief executive officer (CEO) Rupert Sully says they will continue to offer the web based service for Blackberry users, but felt it was strategic to launch the native apps. "It is the sort...

  • Meet 19 of Korea’s hottest startups

    South Korea is a leading player in the global tech industry with Korean brands leaving their mark in various sectors. Thing is, you don't usually hear all that much about the country's startup ecosystem. If BeLaunch, which calls itself "South Korea’s first and biggest global startup-tech conference", has its way all that could soon change. The conference aims to connect the emerging startup ecosystem in Korea with global players through a two-day event taking place over 13 and 14 June. The conference has just announced the final group of startups that will pitch at the event, selected from a...

  • 3 up-and-coming Asian startups to keep an eye on

    It's a crowded marketplace for startups, but there are quite a few companies who are doing something interesting. Hopeful startups battled it out in pitch sessions at the recent Echelon 2012 event in Singapore, hoping to walk away with the title of the top startup and a smattering of prizes. Builk, a niche social network for construction industry professionals, eventually came out on top, but some of the other finalists are just as innovative. Here are three startups working in the cloud storage sphere, developing HR solutions for businesses and streamlining consumer rewards. PayrollHero This payroll management software from the...

  • East African startup accelerator gets international attention

    East Africa has a new tech startup accelerator fund and it’s getting international attention. The Savannah Fund is a partnership between Mbwana Alliy, Paul Bragiel and iHub founder Erik Hersman and is “focused on finding and investing in East Africa’s highest potential pre-revenue startups”. According to Hersman, the “idea is to bring the Silicon Valley-style accelerator model to Africa, seeing what needs to be tweaked to make it work for our region”. At present the fund has about US$10-million at its disposal with classes of five startups at a time being brought on board and invested in. Each startup...

  • LoyalT: Bringing check-in rewards to sport

    We're always looking for hot startups and so it was with great glee that we were introduced to LoyalT, which brings location-based reward programs to life for small businesses by offering users special deals based on checking in, similar to Foursquare and Scvngr. The first implementation of LoyalT's technology is called SharksFrenzy for The Sharks Rugby Union in Durban, South Africa. According to Justin Raleigh, New Media Director at LoyalT, the concept of SharksFrenzy was started in August 2010 with a need to develop a sports rewards programme that not only rewards fans for their support to a...

  • What does running a startup feel like?

    Someone recently asked what it felt like to run a startup. It's an interesting question, because you constantly get peppered with advice on how to choose your partners, what sins to avoid committing, and what events to go to but never get told how you'll feel. It's not an easy subject to tackle with any brevity -- emotions are, after all, complex -- but I've given it my best shot. First off, it's very tough to sleep most nights of the week. Weekends don't mean anything to you anymore. Closing a round of financing is not a relief. It...

  • Alan Knott-Craig Jr on missing his first shot at Mxit, founding World of Avatar

    In the second in a series of extracts from his book "Mobinomics", South African entrepreneur Alan Knott-Craig Jr reflects on the first encounter he had with Mxit founder Herman Heunis. At that stage the company was worth a lot less than Knott-Craig would eventually end up paying for it. He also describes the bits of luck, opportunities, cups of coffee, and marital difficulties that put him on the path to leaving wireless broadband company iBurst and starting World of Avatar -- the group of startups that would come to include Mxit in its list of properties. ...

  • Facebook commerce is dying? Not so fast cowboy

    If the headlines from a couple of months ago were anything to go by, Facebook commerce was as good as dead. Major US players were shuttering their storefronts and in the words of one commentator, "the entire ecosystem was painted a very ugly colour". Thing is, we probably shouldn't be so quick to hammer the last nail into Fcommerce's coffin. A number of the stores that failed said their people simply preferred shopping on their websites to their Facebook storefronts. According to the co-founder of customer experience specialist Consology, Kevin Meltzer that might be because some product offerings are...

  • Microsoft to give startups a free flight to the cloud

    Microsoft is set to give a select group of early stage startups free access to its cloud offering. Under the initiative, which is part of its global BizSpark Plus accelerator programme, the software giant says it will be giving away US$60 000 of free software to South African startups over 10 years. According to Clifford de Wit, developer and platform lead at Microsoft SA, the initiative is aimed at building a vibrant local software development community in South Africa: “We really want to give small software developers the incentive they need to not only develop local software, but also...

  • Primer: Programming languages & databases. Which is best for startups?

    According to the TIOBE index you’re more likely to overhear a Java, PHP, Python, Perl or Ruby developer riffing on an idea for a new web startup, than, let’s say, a PL/SQL developer. Programming languages are developer community argots. To me, the lesser-known lexicon of Oracle’s PL/SQL has been a subject of study for quite some time. I love it. Far beyond its corporate pedigree, I've seen it being used to build an online music store, course search database and microblog. Perhaps I’m partisan, then again, perhaps so are you. But, despite being part of disparate developer communities, we are...