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  • Some business lessons from Cirque du Soleil

    I recently went to see DRALION by Cirque du Soleil -- presented by T-Systems. It was one of the most visually stimulating things that I have witnessed in recent years. In fact it was an all-round sensory experience not to be missed. That's not why I'm writing this blog post. Sitting there listening to and watching the show, I was taken by how perfect of an experience the show was and started to wonder what startups could learn from it. Here are a few things I noticed: Work with only the best Every single person that formed part of the crew (performers, backstage...

  • Company Office

    SUPERBALIST.COM CELEBRATING YOUTH Changing the way the youth shop and applauding creative talent

    Superbalist.com, South Africa’s only high-trend curated online shopping destination, has in excess of 1 million members. With an ever expanding selection of the best international brands at affordable prices; an understanding of what the youth market wants in terms of shopping and content; and campaigns that resonate with their target market, the site is set to change the way the youth shop and consume information. “We understand what it’s like to want coveted international brands, and know that we can actually afford them. It’s been one of our main business objectives since we launched, and we’ve become really good at delivering...

  • Africa App Quest: the search for the best travel app in Africa

    Research commissioned by the World Bank has predicted that Sub-Saharan Africa's travel and tourism industry is expected to achieve an annual growth rate of 5.5% over the next ten years. The world average, by comparison, is a paltry 4.1%. Taking this into account, Visa - the global payments technology company - and South African Tourism (SAT) have officially cut the ribbon on the Africa App Quest (AAQ). In the form of a competition, the AAQ is a challenge to developers to build the continent's best mobile travel app compatible with iOS, Android and Windows. The winner - deemed to have best...

  • Vodacom, Vaimo team up for new youth-based ecommerce platform

    African mobile operating giant Vodacom teamed up with ecommerce Vaimo to deliver Vodacom 4U’s new online platform with a focus on the youth market. Vaimo claims to be South Africa's only Magento gold partner and helps people set up shop on the platform, which is one of the fastest growing in the world. It also claims to have helped more than 300 store owners to move their online business forward "without compromise". According to Vodacom, the ecommerce store is designed to appeal to the informed tech-savvy youth of today and will allow people to choose a phone and contract...

  • 5 things startups can learn from surfers

    Surfing isn't exactly the sport one would associate with startups, but there's a lot to be learnt from hanging ten that applies to the world of online business: Know the conditions Ideal surfing conditions are a cumulation of swell, tides and wind. Ideally, offshore conditions hold up he wave, giving the surfer more surface area on which to surf. Similarly, startups should have an idea of what their market's conditions are -- for example: knowing that iOS users monetise better than Android users means that iOS development takes precedence if you want to monetise early. Know the locals At every surf spot...

  • JSE-listed Sekunjalo cuts into mobile with stake in World Wide Creative

    Hot off the signing desk, digital marketing agency World Wide Creative (WWC) has announced that Saratoga, a subsidiary of JSE-listed Sekunjalo Investments Limited, now holds a sizeable stake in its business, making it a majority shareholder in the company. World Wide Creative was launched in 2003 by business partners Fred Roed and Mike Perk and has created digital products for the likes of Virgin Mobile, BizConnect and the Democratic Alliance. The company and its team are also responsible for the Heavy Chef Project, which focuses on practical learning about digital marketing as well as a series of talks with...

  • The City of Cape Town can’t keep a good startup down, Powertime is back

    Powertime, the startup behind the unique mobile app that allows South Africans to buy prepaid electricity, is back on its feet. Last year, The Cape Town Electricity Department abruptly suspended, without notice, Powertime’s connection to sell prepaid electricity to residents in the City of Cape Town. The action subsequently killed 45% of Powertime's business and left the startup's future in doubt. Having taken back a key area for the company, Powertime is reporting growth of between 300 and 500 sign-ups per month. The City of Cape Town also allowed Powertime to reinstate its 2% VAT inclusive service charge, which the city...

  • Mega-corp Oracle to acquire South African enterprise cloud startup Nimbula

    American-based enterprise software titan, Oracle, will acquire South African startup, Nimbula, for an undisclosed sum of money. In an official blog post, the enterprise software maker said that it has agreed to buy Nimbula, a provider of private cloud infrastructure management software, in a bid to strengthen its own cloud offerings. Prior to the announcement, there had been speculation that the deal was going through in order to give Oracle a means of joining OpenStack, the open cloud organisation that Nimbula participates in as a member. Heavy hitters such as Intel, Dell, HP and IBM are part of the...

  • Doing it the startup way: Veronica Mars gets big pay day on Kickstarter

    Teen sleuth drama Veronica Mars has raised more than US$2.5-million on Kickstarter for its final performance. Everything is a startup these days, and Kickstarter helps everything get the money to turn their brilliant (or not so brilliant) ideas into realities. For Hollywood, Kickstarter is a way to circumvent the big studio bosses who have tightened their purses against projects they just don't see the checks and balances of. Kickstarter is making the business of making movies a tad easier. This year, a Kickstarter-funded documentary made history by winning Best Documentary Short at the Academy Awards. Interestingly, the doccie, Inocente, was...

  • The five Ws and one H of building a startup

    Dear startups, I think it is time someone spelled out a few truths. There are many ideas floating about. Some are really good, others not so much. Not a every idea warrants a company and not everyone can run a good business. Before deciding to turn an idea into a business, approaching investors or squandering the family fortunes, it is important ask yourself some very serious questions about what you are about to build and the company you intend to start. Any journalism student will tell you that the first rule of new writing is understanding the five Ws...

  • Off to chat to a VC? Here are 10 things you need to do first

    A lot of very very smart, experienced investors have put several “must read” guides out there over the last few years on how to get their attention. If you’ve read these before, consider this a reminder. If you haven’t read these guides before, then consider this a starting point. This post should not be seen as a comprehensive list. It’s more of a response to various pitches I’ve been getting from multiple sources. “Understand the investor’s mandate, fund size, investment reqs. Pitch the right investors and build relationships with others” – TJ Sassani, Founder of Zozi. Research Before going out and trying...