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  • 5 Tips for taking your tech startup from big idea to business success

    Throughout the world, and particularly in emerging market countries, the entrepreneurial landscape remains notoriously difficult to navigate, with an estimated 80% of small businesses failing to sustain themselves for a period of longer than five years. However, with an increasing percentage of jobs now being directly attributable to small business ventures, financial backers in both private and public sectors are slowly starting to acknowledge the substantial impact of entrepreneurial activity on a nation’s economy. Yet, in spite the rising global trend towards venture capitalist backing of tech startups, there remain very few such initiatives present in emerging markets. Can this...

  • Company Office

    Netflix: What do South Africans think?

    With the announcement of Netflix launching in South Africa a few months ago, it might have seemed like a belated Christmas gift from America. But has the novelty seemingly worn off quicker than one would expect? There are plenty of reasons why the excitement of Netflix in South Africa seems to have died down. For one, there are not many South Africans who are fortunate to enjoy the luxury of cable TV, never mind Netflix. There is also the added hurdle of using the streaming service with limited to no access to the Internet for many and data bundles that do...

  • Why you should network when raising funds for your tech venture

    The value of attending networking events is often hard to quantify, as it takes valuable time, but it is worth the effort especially if you are considering starting your own business; building an innovative product or trying to raise funding. Funders invest in companies and founders they know Although we receive many proposals through our website at the VC firm I'm part of, all of the deals that we have concluded (i.e. invested in) to date, have been sourced through our networks. An essential part of our business is the relationships that we’ve been building and nurturing with various suppliers and...

  • From R50m to nothing: Lessons from the Global Vision story

    You hear this quite a bit in the start-up world: The thing about technology companies, or any company for that matter, is you have to “fail to succeed”. Many venture capitalists won’t invest in an entrepreneur who hasn’t failed at least once. Some start-ups rise from the ashes to develop into successful businesses. This is not always the case. Some fail, others thrive, some just evolve. Jon Jacobson, founder of high-profile Cape Town start-up Global Vision, rose to the top of his game, creating a company worth well over R45-million and employing around 90 people at its peak....

  • Evrythng: The company that wants to bring…everything online

    People have been promising us The Internet of Things for some time now (the term dates back all the way to 1999). But so far we don’t seem to have moved much further than TVs and domestic appliances. A UK and Switzerland-based company called Evrythng wants to change all that and take the Internet of Things to well...everything. The term essentially refers uniquely identifiable objects (things) and their virtual representations in an internet-like structure. As its name suggests, Evrythng has pretty grandiose ambitions. Its raison d’etre is written boldly across the front page of the site:...

  • If your Facebook store failed, don’t blame Facebook, blame yourself

    I worryingly read a slew of articles over the weekend about the shuttering of numerous big-brand F-commerce sites. My issue with most of these closing is that few had good KVP (key value propositions) for the user and now the entire ecosystem is getting painted a very ugly colour. In light of Open Graph just coming onto the scene I’m surprised at these big brands’ quick plug-pulling behaviour. Let’s review history: be honest, most of these companies put up their websites (or some fraction thereof) on Facebook and gave no real reason for people to buy from it...

  • Gatfol: Google, Yahoo! and Bing are OK, we can make them better

    Search engines get you the results you want 80% of the time. That's according to a South African startup called Gatfol (pronounced Gat fole, not like the Afrikaans Gatvol) which will soon be launching its first product to help you get closer to 100%. Gatfol may seem like an odd name for a startup, but its US patented semantic search algorithm certainly isn’t. Rooted in natural language processing or NLP, the free Gatfol browser plug-in will attempt to optimise your search queries by making them as concise as possible. NLP, if you’re not familiar with the subject, is the field...

  • 22seven launch: How the Mint experience differed

    The recent launch of online money management system 22seven has raised a fair amount of controversy around allowing third-party applications to access user banking details. The innovative startup is the brainchild of Twenty20 founder Christo Davel, and is billed as an "intelligent money-saving tool" that plugs directly and securely into users' personal bank accounts and then delivers analysis on spending habits. It’s one of the sexiest start-ups to launch on the African continent, with VC from multiple investors. The “startup” bears some resemblance to US-based money management system Mint.com, which was launched five years ago following a bid...

  • AngelHub: Investors come together to foster startup growth

    You may believe tech creates jobs, you may believe it destroys jobs. Whatever the case, we know that in the tech world we are seeing entrepreneurial activity like never before. It’s not surprising that there is so much written about venture capital and startups in the tech world, and that there are so many incubators popping up Enter AngelHub. Launched in September of last year, AngelHub connects early stage investors with capital seekers. The funds, expertise and networks of its group of angel investors and founders, aim to create an environment that is conducive to sustainable entrepreneurial success. Although...

  • Crowd-funding pushes lone startup into spotlight

    Another crowdfunding project has hit South Africa's Angel investment landscape. Crowd-funding.co.za, a site aimed at raising money for startups in South Africa, recently launched. For those not in the know,crowdfunding is chiefly a product of the internet, where individuals come together to support private or commercial ventures. This follows a crowdfunding initiative by Eve Dmochowska, Crowdfund, which didn’t see the light of day. Dmochowska's project website has been shut down, and no further news has been heard from the founding members. Hopefully this new crowdfunding venture will fare better, and possibly reach the heights of successful sites such as Kickstarter, a successful...

  • 8 Reasons hiring at a technology startup is tough

    I like to define a startup in a way that goes something like this: A startup in my world is a young company in a new, fast growing and evolving industry that could swing, change or be disrupted very quickly. The reason that it's relevant for me to lay out how I define a startup is because this definition is extremely important when considering hiring a team. It is often not as simple as hiring the best person for the job. It's much deeper and more complicated than a simple contract with leave allowances and a stable income. Hiring is tough...