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  • Meet 18 brilliant SA tech entrepreneurs and their bids for a trade visit to the UK

    18 hand-picked entrepreneurs from towns, townships and rural communities across South Africa recently pitched their businesses to top level executives to secure their place on a trade visit to the United Kingdom in April this year. Sponsored by BT Global Services and lead by MEDO, the International Trade Programme (ITP) aims to promote trade between South Africa and the UK, while fast tracking entrepreneurial businesses. The programme consists of a week of training programmes, networking events and business and investor pitches in the UK. “On the last trade visit, our entrepreneurs achieved an incredible amount in one short...

  • Company Office

    AlphaCode head calls on SA to become a fintech centre of excellence

    Dominique Collet, senior investment executive at Rand Merchant Investment Holdings and head of AlphaCode has called on the South African fintech scene to become "a centre of excellence". "Now that the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has established a fintech programme to track and analyse developments, South Africa has all that is required to become a fintech centre of excellence," says Collett (pictured above). She believes the country has "an advanced banking and financial services system with a sound regulatory regime". "We have extremely competent regulators, top entrepreneurial talent and innovative businesses that are attracting considerable local and global investments. The missing puzzle piece...

  • 500 startups sees Silicon Valley in Brazil

    Startup accelerator 500 Startups is serious about growing its presence in emerging markets. According to the accelerator, "big things are happening" in the South American country, which is why the programme has "been so passionate about supporting Brazilian startups and entrepreneurs". In a recent post on its site, 500 Startups noted that Brazil's mobile landscape is worth paying attention to saying that it is "seeing Silicon Valley in Brazil". "Mobile's massive as well, with more than 1.4 phones per person, with 22-million of those being smartphones," says the post. "And these numbers are going up faster every year." 500 Startups was...

  • 8 Red Hot Chili startup lessons

    The Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) may be one of the most celebrated rock groups of the '90s and early 21st century, but their journey to success shares a Parallel Universe with that of a typical startup company. Initial enthusiasm was followed by a lack of traction as they struggled through the late ‘80s confronting tragedy, personnel changes and false starts. But through experimentation they fostered creativity and progress because they don’t fear failure. This energy lead to a uniquely recognizable brand of funk, pop and rock that turned into commercial success. Some valuable startup lessons are woven into the...

  • Deal discovery startup Pashash changes name to Found, tightens focus

    Pashash co-founder Faheem Kajee said in a blog post today that the deal discovery and sharing service has been renamed to Found. Building on Pashash's initial pitch which was to give buyers a new way of discovering the best buys in brick-and-mortar stores, Found is intended to be a more streamlined service with a new focused call to action: "What Deals Have You Found?" Found will help shoppers share great deals and keep track of what they're saving. Kajee says that Pashash wasn't showing the traction they were hoping for. "Late last year we had to ask ourselves a set of...

  • Startups vs Government on innovation

    Comparing tech startups and the government is strange, I know. Nevertheless, having just finished a short course on economic development, I’m quite sure there are some parallels in the thinking of professors and civil servants in charge of the economy, and the thinking of the likes of Eric Ries of Lean Startup fame. The first thing that resonated is some advice I’ve gleaned from successful entrepreneurs. Pick a goal, i.e. the mountain in the distance. Then, ignore every single step between you and the mountain, except for the next step. Once that step has been taken, look up, make sure...

  • Airtime: the online radio management system you need

    There are thousands of radio stations around the world -- the medium is thriving in both developed and developing nations where internet-radio and the traditional format prevail respectively. And while stations' broadcasting goals may vary from entertainment to news to education to marketing, they all share the unifying challenge of managing and scheduling their broadcasts, in an effective and timely manner, to reach the millions of regular radio listeners worldwide. Interestingly, there has been an explosion in the number of radio stations that broadcast in local languages, providing an extra hurdle for show--creators: how do they create content between many contributors...

  • 8 tips to help get your startup through a big brand partnership

    If you’re doing a startup, there’s an allure to big brand partnerships. You might think: close a deal in a couple of months and then prestige, validation, press, growth, new opportunities, and lots more all await. “If I get this deal we’ll be up in bright lights.” Except it doesn’t usually work that way. The reality is that it’s so hard getting a foot in the door, then signing a contract is grindingly tough. Next, getting a successful partnership that delivers real mutual value is the real challenge, and then you have to do all this without getting sidetracked and...

  • So. Many. Billion-dollar startups. [Infographic]

    When we came across this infographic about billion startups by Staff.com, we were impressed to see the number of young companies that have sky-high valuations. That is, until we started calling out big names that we expected to see on the list. Where is Pinterest? What about SurveyMonkey, Rovio and Kayak? Once we started doing some research we realised that the billion-dollar club has in fact become more of a party in the park than an exclusive VIP snootfest. The New York Times did the thumbsuck-math and came up with a number between 25 and 40 startups that now have...

  • 9 things entrepreneurs can learn from Winnie the Pooh

    "Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart" -- Winnie the Pooh. I went to a conference once where a venture capitalist said that if entrepreneurs treated their startups more like their children and also saw their companies with the eyes of children, chances are we would get more interesting and noteworthy companies. I think entrepreneurs need to see their startups as children because an idea, no matter how small, has the potential to take up great deal of room in both your heart and your mind. Being an avid fan of the popular children's book series...

  • VOX: the SMS-based banking service gaining ground in rural Indonesia

    Founded by Joseph Gaol in 2008, VOX, which stands for Virtual Online Exchange, aims to help the rural population in Indonesia set up bank accounts. According to Gaol, Indonesia has over 220-million mobile subscribers but only has 50-million bank users. But, the majority of Indonesians just don’t trust the banks. As many of us have the perception that banks are all about physical branches, ATMs, and bureaucracy for issuing loans, Gaol argues that the traditional bank model doesn’t work well with the rural population in Indonesia. Instead, Gaol explains that VOX has, to use his phrase, “mobile street vendors” to...

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