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  • ZunguZ wants to turn Facebook into a bank

    Facebook’s great for a lot of things. Keeping up to date with friends, promoting your brand, and organising your social diary are just some of the things you can do on the world’s social network. But what if you need to pay someone you know on Facebook? Surely you’d have to at least have their banking or PayPal details right? That might have been true in the past, but a company called ZunguZ is looking to change all that. The company which has presences in Silicon Valley and Cape Town claims that its product allows social network users “to...

  • Company Office

    Slide app, SA's own version of Venmo, aims to boost person-to-person payments

    South Africa has just got its own version of Venmo, one of the US’s most successful payment platforms owned by PayPal that processes $25-billion in person-to-person payments annually. The Slide app is founded by three young South Africans who recently returned from living in the US -- Irshad Kathrada, Terence Goldberg and Alon Stern. The three have developed the app to change the way South Africans pay each other. Kathrada, worked for JP Morgan in Johannesburg, London and New York; Terence Goldberg, worked in Toronto and San Francisco; and Alon Stern moved to the US from South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship where he worked at...

  • 30 brilliant African tech startups

    The methodology behind this list of startups had two simple directives. First, the startup had to have African roots and secondly it had to be brilliant. More specifically, we were looking for that type of brilliance that exudes intelligence, talent, quality or simply, something fresh. Of course brilliance, like most things in life, is subjective, so we went into this journey with an open mind. Tabula rasa if you will and we hoped to recognise brilliance when we saw it. We did, over and over again. Why did we focus on Africa? The continent’s one-billion people are coming online and 600-million...

  • Yola boss Vinny Lingham steps down to launch new startup

    Well-known Silicon Valley-based South African web entrepreneur Vinny Lingham has resigned as the CEO of Yola, the internet startup he founded about five years ago, to launch a new venture. The new venture -- Gyft -- promises "to change the way you think about gift cards". It plans to launch in May this year and is offering an early sign up for members. There is no indication of who is backing the venture (but Memeburn will find this out soon). Yola says that Lingham will retain his board seat and shares at the company and will "continue to provide vision and...

  • How Dollar Shave Club used its viral video to attract investors

    Dollar Shave Club’s debut video is cool. Scratch that. It is damn cool. It might even have convinced a few people to buy the product. Here’s the thing; it’s also been attracting investors. In fact, it was doing so long before it was convincing us to stop giving most of the money we spend on razors to Roger Federer. According to Mashable, CEO Michael Dubin -- who’s also the star of the video -- used it to get US$1-million in funding out of the likes of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz. "We develop great content," Dubin says, "and [the...

  • Emerging market fund launched for digital media innovation

    A well-known New York-based fund that focuses on emerging market media has launched an early-stage fund for entrepreneurs developing digital news and information businesses. The fund, called Digital News Ventures, has been launched by the Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF). The MDLF, which operates out of Prague, has invested more than $113-million in 79 independent news companies in 27 countries, mainly emerging markets, since 1995. It backs up all of its debt and equity investments with strategic advice and business assistance. Digital News Ventures will provide early-stage equity finance from $30 000 to $300 000 to entrepreneurs whose ideas...

  • The hows and the whats — 5 tough questions VCs ask

    Over the past six months I have spoken with a wide variety of people who have shown, in varying degrees, interest in investing in my company. Many of these VCs have specific ways that they conduct a call, interview or meeting. Many of them have lead me down long and wasteful due diligence processes, many have been kind, some have been blunt and harsh but all have been pedantic and specific about the types of questions they ask. I have found that, on the whole, the questions are standard and the steps straight-forward but there are always the tough questions...

  • New virtual prepaid card looks to bring online shopping to the masses

    There was a time when you needed a credit card to shop online. Then a few pioneers engaged in some technical wizardry and brought out products that allowed you do use your debit card. But what if you have neither? A solution that allows for people who don’t have either to shop online would be particularly useful in emerging market economies, where large numbers of people might not have credit cards. Triloq Payment Services claims to have developed precisely such a solution in the guise of a “simple, single-use virtual prepaid card system called 1-2-Pay-Online”. The product was...

  • 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...

  • 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....