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  • Rebooting innovation in South Africa

    Since I became the United States Ambassador to South Africa last October, I have met truly inspiring South Africans with great ideas almost every day.  I have been very impressed with South Africans’ ability to link abstract knowledge and real-world application. With such talent, it seems natural that this beautiful, vibrant country should become a global innovation hub for the 21st century. Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan emphasised in his 2010 Budget Speech that “successful developmental states are built not just through public policy and state action, but also through national identity, social cohesion and responsible citizenship - through building social capital that reinforces trust and co-operation, in the...

  • Company Office

    Wabona Partners up with Cinemo

    Wabona, Cape Town based video streaming service has partnered up with RLabs start-up Cinemo to provide its large library of African TV shows, films and documentaries on Cinemo’s mobile video distribution service. Cinemo distributes video content via applications on MXit and Google Android respectively. Wabona is Cinemo’s largest content partner to date. Cinemo is the brainchild of Shane Vermooten, a filmmaker and Co-Founder, who started Cinemo to solve the problem of distributing video content to the people without smartphones and fixed line internet while providing another revenue stream and new audiences to filmmakers. With the help of Marlon Parker and...

  • Why PayPal sucks and Kwedit doesn’t

    One of the biggest factors, apart from bandwidth and audience size, that’s restricting the development of the internet and the emergence of startups in South Africa is the lack of a safe and convenient method for consumers to buy goods and services online. The recent announcement that PayPal have officially entered the country through a partnership with FNB could help to solve this problem, but it still comes at a price and only benefits those of us who bank with FNB and have the patience to put up with the rigmarole of getting your PayPal account approved for sending and...

  • Can entrepreneurs thrive in corporate settings?

    Does working for a company preclude an individual from being an entrepreneur? Most certainly not; indeed, some of the best innovations and developments are achieved by people who are working for large corporations. The difference is that within these organisations, entrepreneurship – and critical thinking - is actively encouraged, not only in the research and development departments, but in the managerial suites too. With the global economy slowly coming out of a siege, it is to entrepreneurs that we must look for the kind of lateral thinking which sees opportunity in adversity. There is little debate that the days...

  • Personera launches Facebook print calendars

    Whoever declared that print was dead may soon have to swallow their words. Personera, an online-to-offline media technology startup, launched its unique service to Facebook users around the world this week. The company is offering the world's first print calendar that is fully personalised with a user's Facebook friends' birthdays, upcoming events, and photos. The company says it is also first to launch under the banner of the Silicon Cape initiative, a government and industry endorsed movement to create a global Silicon Valley-style startup culture in Cape Town, South Africa. Personera's website allows people to use their Facebook accounts to...

  • SA study: More people banking with their mobiles than PCs

    According to respected market research organisation World Wide Worx, the number of people banking from their cellphones has exceeded that of people banking from their PCs in South Africa. More than a quarter of bank customers are turning to their cellphones for services ranging from informational transaction types such as balance enquiries to financial transaction types which include account payments. This was one of the key findings from the consumer phase of the research company's Mobility 2009 research project. The study was backed by First National Bank (FNB), leaders in cellphone banking in Africa, and Research In Motion (RIM), the...

  • Opening speech @ #SiliconCape

    Here is the text of the speech I gave at the opening of Silicon Cape in Camps Bay. I'm not alone in saying that this was an inspiring and well-supported event. Welcome everyone and thank you all for coming. A special welcome to the Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, Dr Mamphela Ramphele and Mr Johann Rupert. It’s an absolute honour and it’s humbling to be speaking in front of such an important gathering of tech people in this country. I think we all realise that we’re part of history here. Here, today, history is being made. There are some powerful and...

  • A short word on innovation

    Innovation in a business context is one of the most misunderstood concepts around. I have to admit that I've misunderstood it for most of my life too. I've grown to realise that ideas by themselves are pretty much worthless -- and innovation really arises out of a process of execution of those ideas that tests and combines other ideas, technologies and theories. It's common sense really. It's why Venture Capitalists will rarely invest in ideas (or even a track record), but rather need some evidence of execution (focus and passion help too). Of course there are always exceptions, but the...

  • The surprising science of motivation

    Fascinating TED talk on what motivates people in companies, challenging traditional notions of management. Very relevant to many online companies who are looking at building new and different cultures. (via Wendy Robb @ 20fourlabs)

  • Online chess play scoops $1.25m in funding

    ChessCube has concluded a US$1.25m funding agreement with Venture Capital fund, InVenFin (Pty) Ltd. InVenFin, the VC-focused subsidiary of VenFin Limited, invests in intellectual property-based start-ups with global potential. This transaction brings ChessCube’s total funding to date to US$1.8m. ChessCube is an online chess site, which allows players of all skill levels to compete and learn chess, while socializing with others. With a potential market of over fifty million active chess players in the world, ChessCube.com has already attracted over 650,000 registered users across 207 countries -- making it one of the leaders in the growing online chess market. Mark Levitt,...

  • Survey claims 80% of SA users shop online

    A survey by Master Card claims that 80% of South African users are shopping online. CDs, DVDs and VCDs” emerged as the most sought after item category, with 58% of online shoppers saying that they frequently shopped for these items online. “Airline tickets” and “books and arts” emerged as the next most sought after items, with 45% of online shoppers saying that they had frequently shopped for these items in the three months prior to when the survey was conducted. These are some of the primary findings of a survey commissioned by MasterCard Worldwide on online shopping behaviour, the results of which...