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  • How to sell a high-risk startup to skittish investors

    Exhibit A: a startup with an inexperienced leadership team enters a business sector with notoriously high failure rates: the food service industry. On paper, the startup is likely to be classified as a high-risk venture, signalling a gloomy fundraising outlook -- but it doesn't have to be that way, says veteran startup mentor, angel investor and founder of Startup Professionals, Martin Zwilling. The key to defying the odds, says Zwilling, is for the startup to acknowledge and address its challenges in its business case and investor presentation. The worst the startup can do is to hope that its weaknesses fall...

  • Company Office

    Bookmark Awards 2016 Entry Series: Emerging Digital Technologies and Channels

    With the deadline for entries to the prestigious IAB SA Bookmark Awards extended to 30 November, digital marketers have one last opportunity to enter and do battle for the industry’s most coveted awards across eight categories, of which the Emerging Digital Technologies and Channels category is one. The Bookmark Awards celebrate the country’s most creative and high-impact digital executions and rewards excellence in digital advertising and publishing work, benchmarked against the highest international standards. “The Emerging Digital Technologies and Channels category acknowledges the trailblazers in our industry, who are not only challenging the boundaries of what is currently possible, but finding...

  • Bummed there is no Twitter on Mxit? Don’t fret now you have Tweetr

    As a platform, Mxit seems to be evolving. In the last year it has expanded the user experience by opening up its API and allowing third-party developers to build apps for the mobile social network. In December a third-party developer quietly launched Tweetr on Mxit, an app that allows users to browse tweets from Twitter's mobile site without the need for a Twitter account. "The decision to incorporate twitter into Mxit was a simple one. I knew there was demand for these two content segments and if we simplified accessibility to the content (that users are already searching for)...

  • Virtual incubation programme to be launched in East Africa

    InfoDev, a global grant programme run by the World Bank to promote ICT, has announced a pilot virtual incubation project to bring up businesses across East Africa. InfoDev said its new initiative is aimed at redefining the idea of incubation for business by providing tools for businesses in the rural areas as opposed to the urban areas such as witnessed across East Africa.The participating incubation labs will be required to recruit potential startup, incubate them through virtual startup support and even connect them with funding opportunities.“We are honored to contribute to this groundbreaking effort to bring virtual incubation services to...

  • U-Start: connecting investors with emerging market ventures

    International funding platforms with their sights set on emerging markets are coming in thick and fast. U-start, a new online platform from Italy, matches entrepreneurs with investors through its growing footprint of networks in Kenya, Russia and now, South Africa. While U-Start also intends to serve areas of Europe with smaller startup eco-systems, its 2013 roadmap shows significant emerging market intent with further expansion planned for South America, India, Asia, and Africa. When entering a new region, U-Start partners with local businesses, academia, investors and entrepreneurial communities to develop its target markets. In South Africa for example, U-Start has partnerships with...

  • 8 mobile ventures get $2.4 million from Knight Foundation

    The Knight Foundation has announced the latest winners of its news challenge. The media innovation challenge is aimed at getting startups to build applications that can be used in a newsroom. This year's theme was mobile, and the projects were quite focused on the developing world where mobile is king. Most of the chosen projects focus on using mobile to get news and information in emerging markets. Veteran information dispenser, Wikipedia, will develop new tools to allow people to access articles and knowledge via text message in different languages. The project is part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s bigger remit to...

  • Q&A: Vinny Lingham on Gyft, the festive season and living in Silicon Valley

    South African technology entrepreneur Vinny Lingham is not resting on his laurels despite the success of Yola and it having raised US$25 million from Johan Rupert’s Reinet Investments. His latest venture, Gyft, seeks to “disrupt” the multi-billion dollar gift card industry.Gyft is a “Mobile Gift Card Platform” that aims to enable customers to “upload, buy and redeem gift cards conveniently from their mobile device”.Gift cards are a US$100 billion industry in the USA alone, which is partially the reason why Google Ventures, Founder Collective and 500 Startups have funded this private company.The other reason could be Lingham’s track record as a...

  • Pastel enters the personal finance game

    Pastel My Money is joining the likes of Moneysmart, 22seven and Nedbank in an all out barroom brawl for personal finance management supremacy. Softline Pastel, a trusted name in South African accounting software is launching a new online play. For those that remain circumspect of online finance management tools -- for whatever reason -- Pastel's cachet could do well to galvanise interest. Like its competitors Pastel My Money allows you to manage transactions and track spending on your various bank accounts. The service can import bank statements from an unlimited number of internet bank and credit card accounts. Each profile allows...

  • Studentology’s mobile payment app attracts international investor attention

    In November last year, eleven promising startups boarded a plane bound for London where they would be introduced to potential investors and mentors. The eleven, chosen as part of Silicon Cape's incubation programme, pitched to a panel of investors that included the Mamba Mentors, a group of South African expats who were also involved in previous pitching rounds. One of the startups, Studentology, a student marketing company with a mobile payment solution, caught the eye of Mamba member, Haji Chana. Chana has a background in private equity, management consulting and investment banking, having worked at Blackstone Group, Mckinsey & Company...

  • Win a copy of Richard Branson’s book ‘Screw Business as Usual’

    If you're looking for business advice, super entrepreneur Richard Branson seems like a good place to start. In his book 'Screw Business as Usual', the Virgin founder touches on the revolution in standard practice, discussing how doing the right thing may be profitable -- as well as better for humanity. The book has been called a must read for anyone from entrepreneurs to social activists, and explains why priorities need to shift from just making money to making a difference. Branson explains that he has "written this book for those who, at the same time as wanting to develop...

  • Taking stock of South African eCommerce after the 2012 holidays

    Shortly before Christmas last year, we took a look at changing attitudes towards online shopping in South Africa. The Visa eCommerce Tracker Survey revealed a gradual expansion of online purchasing over the course of the year, while some shoppers still remained apprehensive due to concerns about shipping or handling fees, that goods wouldn’t arrive on time, and worries that goods would not arrive as per specifications. As we begrudgingly stow away our Christmas decorations, we take a look at the eCommerce landscape after the holidays and where it's headed in 2013. According to a study presented last year by research...

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