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  • 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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • New daily deals site promises ‘clever twist’, less emails

    Yawn. Another daily deals site. That's so 2011. Promisingly however, the latest entrant into the market SaveMeDeals.com claims that it won't clog up your inbox. The site, which will be operated in South Africa by the MIH-owned online price comparison service PriceCheck, is a deal portal aggregator. This means that instead of offering its own deals, the site displays all the advertised deals from group buying sites in one place. Its entry into the South African market is part of an attempt to globalise the platform, which was previously only present in Latin America. PriceCheck CEO Andre De Wet...

  • Crowdfunding: It’s more than just having an idea and collecting the money

    Thousands of great ideas flounder at the point where they need to become reality; when great thinkers and idea generators turn to the age-old problem of raising funds to kickstart their new ventures….too often they fail and give up. Getting investment is a whole different ball game to developing products and services. So when the idea of crowdfunding first emerged, (crowdsourced fund-raising) it was embraced by entrepreneurs like sweet words of love from Juliet to her Romeo. Surely this was it, the easy answer to getting enough capital to fund your idea from like-minded individuals, without having to do...

  • Major African VC network launches private investing tools

    Venture Capital for Africa (VC4Africa), an online community of venture capitalists, angels and entrepreneurs, today announced the launch of new tools aimed at helping people raise funds for their startups. The network, which is dedicated to building business on the African continent, claims that the new tools make private investment easy, secure and social. It also says that they allow entrepreneurs to register their funding needs. These are then shared for investors, registered as part of the VC4Africa investor network, to review. Any investor interested in the venture can reportedly engage the entrepreneur for more details. and if...