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  • Tourism is now ‘the top selling online industry’

    With annual global sales skyrocketing to over US$150 billion, and robust growth that has shaken off the recession, tourism is the 'top selling commodity online', according to Damian Cook, Founder of E Tourism Frontiers. This is good news for South African Tourism, the organisation responsible for increasing tourism to South Africa, which is staging this year's 3rd annual E-Tourism Africa Summit. The two-day Online Tourism Conference and Travel Technology Exhibition will be taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Center on the 25th and 26th of October 2010. The trend towards online travel booking is confirmed by South African...

  • Company Office

    HealthQ

    HealthQ has been  tasked to assist with the testing and industrialization of a technology called LifeQ. The LifeQ product, worn by the user, will be able to determine the amount of calories and type of food that is being metabolized in real-time. Through constant electronic monitoring, both the energy uptake from food consumption and the energy expenditure of the user from vital functions and exercise will be accurately tracked, without the need for manual data logging and intervention, or the use of inaccurate proxies such as accelerometers or GPS. Being essentially a dashboard with the ability to track processes inside...

  • Now you can create a social network using your phone

    The next evolution of social networks involves customisable, targeted communities that share specific interests, as opposed to the one-size-fits all mega-networks that exist today. And these new networks need to be flexible enough to take advantage of the massive growth spurt reported that is happening on the mobile web. These two trends have played perfectly into the hands of South African internet veterans, Nic Haralamobous and Vincent Maher who have just created and launched a startup called Motribe, which is “a platform that enables users, brands, agencies and publishers across the world to build and manage their own mobile social...

  • Will SA’s unbanked masses embrace M-Pesa?

    On paper, the argument for embracing M-Pesa, a mobile-phone based money transfer service, is a compelling one. But implementation needs to be perfect if it is to gain traction with wary South African consumers. Cellular service provider Vodacom, in conjunction with banking giant Nedbank, have finally begun rolling out M-PESA to South African consumers, having seen the critical role it plays in the Kenyan economy, where it is reported that almost 20% of all transactions are done through M-PESA. Days after I interviewed Mark Taylor, MD of Vodacom Payment Services, I received an SMS telling me I had received...

  • Startup GetAGreatBoss fills a gap in the recruitment process

    The dearth of systems to rate and recognise great bosses prompted Gavin Symanowitz to create GetAGreatBoss.com, a rating system that helps job seekers to identify companies that have exceptional leaders. Symanowitz launched the startup in 2009 from Johannesburg with the belief that "people join companies, but they leave bosses." The site is not a recruitment portal itself, but rather targets six different groups of people that work in the recruitment field: Career-seekers looking for great bosses, recruiters, online job portals, HR professionals, executive coaches and great bosses themselves. According to a Gallup Organisation survey of one million people, ''what...

  • Three South African startups chosen for Seedcamp week

    South African web startups, Cognician, GetAGreatBoss and iSigned are packing their bags for London. Seedcamp, the European micro-seed fund that focuses on early stage startups has announced the selection of three South African technology startups to attend ‘Seedcamp Week’ in London from the 13th till the 17th of September. This is great news for South Africa, having secured three of the 23 available places at Seedcamp week, from the more than 600 teams worldwide that have applied over the year. The Seedcamp finalists 2010 include a wide selection of teams from 16 different countries, active in more than 19 cities. The South...

  • Kenyan startup proposes solution to modern-era information overload

    In an age of information abundance, curating meaning is key. Nine months ago that is just what Jon Gosier set out to do as he took over the reins of the SwiftRiver initiative at renown crowd-sourcing activism site, Ushahidi. Recently he announced the Beta release, and unveiled a new website at Swiftly.org. What is SwiftRiver? SwiftRiver Open Beta Announcement. from Ushahidi on Vimeo. “SwiftRiver is an open source intelligence gathering platform for managing realtime streams of data.” Using five different tools in the toolbox, you can create a host of useful applications. Tools ranging from natural language processing to handling duplicates,...

  • Cred and the art of micropayments

    The topic of micropayments has struck a heated note amongst online paywall experts and content providers. There are many who denounce the system, marking it as a tried-and-failed experiment, while others proclaim it as the future of online transactions. A micropayment can be defined as a financial transaction of a small sum of money, usually in an online context. PayPal defines this sum at US$12.00 or less, in terms of its own micropayment system. For the average end-user, micropayments are extremely useful. For a minor fee, the user can gain access to their desired content, albeit only in bite-sized...

  • Blekko search: Coming soon to a browser near you

    Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta has conceded the search battle to Google without even firing a shot. Instead, he’s adopted the mantra of his co-founder Mike Markson: own a category or die. The challenge for Blekko is that the company must figure out exactly which category it plans to own; then work to define it. At present, the most accurate term for what Blekko does is vertical search, which has been a highly elusive category for large-scale, consumer-level entrants. Vertical search targets specific types of content, whether by format, topic or genre. ...

  • Do banks block mobile money innovation in Africa?

    A recent blog posting by Dr. Bill Maurer on the CGAP website spoke about mobile money’s innovation crisis. The author claims that nothing new has happened in mobile money since Mpesa was launched in Kenya, with the possible exception of the launch of Mkesho this year in Kenya as well. Besides that development, he contends that everyone around the world is just trying to duplicate what Safaricom is doing in this space. Why is this the case? Dr Maurer argues that, “There may also be one partnership in particular that could be hampering innovation—that with the banks. Historically, these two players have taken very...

  • 7 reasons to bootstrap: Angels, VCs or none of the above?

    The venture capitalist (VC) community is disdainful of angel investors and their puny funds, but the angels can do deals that VCs cannot because they are too small for the large funds. Today's entrepreneur has a choice: Angels or VCs or none of the above. It's worth considering the "none of the above" option because startup costs are very low. Joe Kraus, co-founder of Excite, which was the Google of its day, told me that they needed $5-million for a data centre when they first started. Today, with the ready availability of cloud computing you don't need to raise lots of capital...