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  • Social wine discovery service Real Time Wine uncorks delicious mobile apps

    The world of wine is about to get super social and dramatically less snooty. Real Time Wine, the 140-character wine blog is now available in the form of beautiful apps for iPhone and Android phones. Real Time Wine makes it easy for those who don't consider themselves intrepid wine connoisseurs to venture out and try something new “Most wine buyers are not wine experts,” says founder Andy Hadfield. “The challenge of discovering new wine at the right price is so great that we tend to stick to the old and familiar. Real Time Wine makes the process of choosing, drinking...

  • Company Office

    Be good at being wrong… and getting it right quickly

    Even the best entrepreneurs get things wrong from time to time. Launching a business is a learning process, and you are bound to go down dead ends and change direction here and there, says CEO of Nomanini, Vahid Monadjem.  One of our investors, Esther Dyson, has the words “Always make new mistakes!” in her email footer. Being wrong is pretty much unavoidable when you’re doing something new. You have to work with a mixture of facts and assumptions. You don’t have a crystal ball, but you have to take a view. And even if a solution or a strategy is...

  • Lending goes peer-to-peer with RainFin

    Let's be serious for a minute folks. Getting a loan from a bank can be a right royal pain in the arse. Surely you could save a load of admin if you, the willing borrower, could sit down at your computer and find a willing lender? That's exactly the premise behind a RainFin, a social lending company that says it wants to completely change the way people borrow and loan money in South Africa. The company provides a compelling alternative to banks for consumers who wish to invest and borrow money at more competitive interest rates. RainFin’s online platform...

  • CheqOut set to disrupt African mobile payments industry

    CheqOut, launching today, will allow anyone with an iPhone -- and later an Android phone or BlackBerry — to accept credit card payments, by swiping cards through a plug-in card reader. While CheqOut is similar to Square (Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s juggernaut electronic payment service) CheqOut is tailored for the African market. “We've done our research and adapted the Square concept for Africa. Our main focus has been on catering for the rich diversity of mobile handsets. Tablets still represent a tiny amount of usership, hence they are not our key device at this point. Another major concern is...

  • Will the Silicon Valleys of the world please rise [Infographic]

    Where is the next Silicon Valley? It's becoming cheaper and easier to set up a startup, all over the world -- and some of the larger emerging markets are vying for the chance to be the next centre of innovation. Will the next Silicon Valley be in Mexico, Indonesia or Nigeria? Will we see projects like Kenya's Konza Technology City become the place to be for aspiring entrepreneurs? A glance at the global entrepreneurship index shows that while the United States is still one of the easiest places to do business, the rest of the world is catching up. According...

  • Must watch: Faux startup Vooza pokes fun at startup culture

    Gameface solemnly shelved, Ventureburn takes a breath to celebrate two videos that brilliantly spoof our bizarre and wonderful startup culture. The first video, released recently, sees an anodyne narrator -- tongue firmly in cheek -- hazily describe its fictitious (we think?) company called Vooza, while bandying about buzz terms like “crowdsourcing”, acronyms like API and S3, and hip development frameworks such as Ruby on Rails. There’s name dropping by means of tech investor slash celebrity, Ashton Kutcher and a mention of startup incubator, Y Combinator -- that rejected them, apparently. How about a revenue model? Vooza thinks revenue is a journey...

  • What is an entrepreneur? Why are you one?

    ENTREPRENEUR – What the hell does it really mean and what right do you have to call yourself one… and how is the blatant promotion of ‘go-it-aloneship’ affecting the SA digital industry? Entrepreneur. It’s a word we see and hear bandied about everywhere at the moment, everyone is one, or is being told they should be one. If you do a quick search on Twitter as to the number of people who include the title of ‘entrepreneur’ in their profile, it’s a wonder how the global economy is in such a precarious position given how many of these ‘entrepreneurs’ are...

  • Blueseed: The seaborne startup incubator

    Immigration laws are tedious and work visas are expensive, especially for foreign entrepreneurs wanting to work in the US. Max Marty and Blueseed cofounder Dario Mutabdzija, aware of this fact, are ambitiously hacking the system to bring talented foreign startups closer to Silicon Valley. How? By drawing up plans for floating office space, 12 nautical miles off the coast of California. The idea of cities at sea have long been the fodder of libertarians and climate watchers, but Blueseed is the first to utilise the so-called “contiguous zone” for fostering startup growth. Marty and Mutabdzija, both formerly of the Seasteading...

  • South Africa’s mobile messaging services industry to get a shake up

    South Africa's mobile services industry is apparently getting a shake up. According to Panacea Mobile, a mobile a services company, 40% of SMS campagins sent to customers fail to deliver due to incorrect or out-dated information. Since companies can send millions of messages in a month, the cost for these undelivered messages can be compounded tremendously. The company aims to rectify this. The startup claims to offer South African companies a unique number validation tool which "will take the guesswork out of mobile messages and cut down on the number of undelivered messages significantly". The number validation service uses...

  • Naspers set to go on Eastern European buying spree

    Emerging markets internet giant Naspers has some serious expansion plans, with an eye on Eastern Europe in particular. Naspers CEO Koos Bekker told Bloomberg that the US$18-billion company was hoping to add between 10 and 20 companies to it's already extensive portfolio of internet businesses. “We see some investment opportunities in the ecommerce space, although opportunities are lower than we’ve had in the past,” Bekker said, adding that the company would take its pick from 100-200 potential acquisitions. That's down from the nearly 300 the company had looked at every year for the past two years. In its earnings...

  • Will the real African startups please stand up?

    With so much focus on advancing the entrepreneurial ecosystems around African startup hubs at the moment, more and more Africans are starting their own businesses by choice as opposed to necessity. But, not all interesting ventures that launch can automatically claim ‘startup’ status. While the essence of successful innovation-driven Silicon Valley startups can be found in the African spirit of Ubuntu, African ventures are still mostly backed by efficiency-driven entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, game-changing startups from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana have led the technology revolution on the continent with homegrown innovations, highlighting the contribution Africa can make as an emerging market...