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  • Major investment could see Personera going global

    Technology platform Personera has announced a US$1.4-million Series A round of venture capital from Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa (HPVA), the South African subsidiary of German billionaire and venture capitalist Hasso Plattner. The personalised merchandise company provides customised digital and print products for brands' Facebook fans. The latest announcement brings its total capital raised to US$1.6-million. Personera is a free app that brands can install on their Facebook pages which offers fans the chance to order personalised products built around their social networks. "The capital will be used to fund global sales, product launch and marketing initiatives, growing Personera's team in...

  • Company Office

    How insurtech partnerships are disrupting traditional sectors for the better

    South Africa’s funeral insurance market is booming. It is the most prevalent type of insurance in the country, with the Centre for Financial Regulation and Inclusion (Cenfri) reporting that just under 90% of cover falls into this sector. In a digitally-driven world, service providers in this space no longer necessarily look the same. In fact, many traditional insurers are now looking to combine forces with technology (fintech) and insurance technology (insurtech) companies, which can often quickly draw large client numbers through innovative and nimble offerings. Research by PwC shows that nine out of 10 insurance companies fear losing business to fintech startups, but...

  • Exclusive: Major int’l VC stealthily buying into SA eCommerce sites

    A major US$3.5-billion New York-based hedge fund headed by investor Lee Fixel has been quietly buying up some major eCommerce properties in South Africa over the past five years. The New York-based Tiger Global Management LLC, which recently invested US$20-million in business social network LinkedIn and US$80-million in Facebook, now holds a stake in the country’s largest online auctions site, Bid or Buy. Add to that a growing portfolio that includes key online properties such as Private Property, the largest online property portal, and Take2, an online shopping site and Kommetjie-based travel bookings site SafariNow. Tiger also enjoys...

  • Toodu: Managing tasks while networking online

    Picture having your to do list completed for you, while networking at the same time with professionals who can help you sort it. It’s the dream behind Toodu, a site claiming no rival in its way of organizing task lists. Setting tasks is not new to the industry. Remember the Milk allows users to manage tasks, set dates, time, categories and geolocation, while popular app Google Tasks integrates with other Google services like Gmail, iGoogle and Google Calender. Toodu’s claims their difference lies in matching items on your to do list with people and businesses who can help you get...

  • Mobile web exploding, but mobile sales lagging… for now

    It's no secret that the world has suddenly woken up to the mobile web explosion. Exponential statistics abound and atmospheric graphs shoot up and away from the X and Y axes as the growth is unprecedented in technological history. The internet will very soon be in the hands of practically every single person on this planet. Recently research firm World Wide Worx exposed some of the findings of its Mobility 2011 report, which reveals that 39% of urban South Africans and 27% of rural users are now using the internet on their cellphones, which equals about 6 million South Africans....

  • 7 things you should know before launching your startup

    Startups are a tricky business to get right and it's clear why most fail. For Henk Kleynhans, knowing how to price his product correctly was the number one need when he launched Skyrove. At the time of launch, the internet junkie was committed to the idea that there must be a better and cheaper way for internet to be available everywhere. Today, Skyrove is South Africa’s largest independent Wi-Fi hotspot network with over 600 Wi-Fi hotspots in South Africa. Here are seven things he wished he knew before he launched his startup. 1. Think Local First. From day one...

  • Where in the world is CrowdFund?

    Almost a year ago, or eleven months ago to be precise, a brilliant crowd-based angel investment project was introduced to the South African tech startup stage, called Crowdfund. The idea, started by well-known web strategist Eve Dmochowska, included big plans for crowdsourcing funds for worthy local startups. The idea behind it all was to provide the capital, know-how and networking capability required by young entrepreneurs to launch prototypes of their ideas, in exchange for equity -- a dream come true for any entrepreneur. Dmochowska’s project shot off the starting blocks like Usain Bolt at the Olympics. By the end...

  • Watch these proposed laws! They will affect your startup

    The younger your company, the easier it can be to adapt to new laws. It’s a fact that the business environment makes a huge difference to whether or not entrepreneurs succeed. Here in South Africa a number of proposals, also known as bills, are being discussed by government for passing by the National Parliament and final approval by President Jacob Zuma. It’s best to foresee what these proposed laws will require – and what you can do to secure your business against their effects. Here are three you should watch before making your next move. IP Act: The act,...

  • 8 ways to bootstrap your company

    "Bootstrap, bootstrap, bootstrap,” says Ira Weiss at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. "Create an advisory board and use the advisory for contacts. Try to get people interested in what you are doing and ask them for guidance. Pitch your idea to industry experts. Favour business models that generate cash sooner. Get external validation for your idea. The best way is through creating a product or service and securing customers that can be references,” she added when discussing prospects for 2011 with Fox Business. The aim of many entrepreneurs is to take a business idea and convert it...

  • Online shoppers reap the benefits of flash sale and group deals

    It’s no secret that everyone loves a good bargain, no matter who they are or what their income level is. This simple insight is the key to the flash sales and group deals which are becoming increasingly popular in South Africa. With discounts of up to 70% for those in the know, it’s no surprise that the sector is gaining traction. SaleWine.co.za is one such site. It uses flash sales to sell its wines for up to 70% off the retail price and has attracted over 7 000 shoppers who eagerly await its new wine emails. “Last week, I...

  • Could Chinese venture capital back African innovation?

    Chinese venture capitalists have clearly stated their desire to see the success of the western venture capital process replicated in their country. State and private firms have begun to take initiatives and institute policy reforms in recent years in order to meet that target. The Hualu Group, one of the biggest Chinese state-owned enterprises which focuses on the audio and video industry, has been quietly forging ahead in the tech sector. In 2010 Hualu Group's new video website adopted a business model which combines videos with e-commerce, including the broadcasting of popular TV series, interactive advertising, and sales of Blu-Ray...