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  • Startup prediction: Digital money is the space to watch

    Paypal has led the way by opening up its platform but there will be lots of startups focused on digital money in its many forms in 2011. Making payments easier and secure is a very big deal. History reveals many times when innovation around money resulted in massive economic growth, and conversely, when a lack of payment options resulted in economic depression. For example, look at these innovations around money: International banking and insurance originated with the Medici families in Florence and was responsible for an explosion in international trade; the invention of bonds in Renaissance Italy led to massive...

  • Company Office

    Barclays Accelerator programme in full swing

    The 2017 Barclays Accelerator is in full swing at the Rise fintech innovation hub in Woodstock, Cape Town, with ten fintech companies on site, participating in a tried and tested start-up accelerator programme presented by Barclays Africa in conjunction with US-company Techstars. The 13-week programme sees startup fintech companies follow a growth acceleration curriculum designed by Techstars, which has supported more than 900 technology startups across 23 cities around the world. The experience is enhanced through the involvement of a network of local and global mentors, as well as Barclays Africa executives, who help shape participants’ business plans and development. The...

  • Kenya’s astonishing internet growth: Six key trends to watch

    For many years, Kenya was known as fertile ground for agriculture, but increasingly it's becoming known as a place where technology companies can grow and flourish. Many new technology players from across Africa have chosen Kenya as a base to serve their East African interests, to expand and launch new products and services into this dynamic regional economy. 1. Online classifieds MIH Internet Africa and the Bid or Buy group are both set to go head-to-head for the classifieds market in Kenya, and in other emerging African markets across the continent. After the launch of its mobile directory business, Mocality, MIH...

  • 4 ways to still be effective during holiday leave

    Looking to log-off but stay connected this holiday season? Whether you’re going to be travelling locally or abroad, working from home, or having a "Staycation" we’ve got four ways for you to make your time out of the office seem as if you haven’t missed a beat. As much as we love to deny it, today’s generation of online professionals are workaholics. We wake up and check our emails over our morning coffee, we monitor our projects on our lunch break, we network after work, and we tweet our industry news while brushing our teeth. The concept of an eight-hour workday...

  • Scaling: Don’t become a victim of your own success

    A common issue with online startups is that they only start thinking about scalability once their site goes down. Many of the big startups also experience this phenomenon (e.g Twitter, Tumbler). They take note and spring into action only once the issue has occurred, which almost always has a detrimental effect on the user experience. Unexepected traffic spikes that could be generated by something as simple as a post on a reputable tech news site can bring your site to its knees almost instantaneously. In that brief moment of fame, your site crashes and all those potential new readers/customers/fans...

  • Five difficulties facing startups in China

    There’s a legend about a Chinese monk who, after years of meditating atop a high, isolated mountain, envisioned the world’s first circular disk. Careful to keep his ideas to himself, the monk swore on oath not to speak to anyone until he had completed his invention. One day, a traveller from the West, fair in skin but foul of heart, passed by a town the monk frequented. He had heard of the silent monk and decided to test him. He managed to get the monk intoxicated enough to reveal his secret of the circular disk. The traveller took the...

  • Kenyan startups jump on the ‘Groupon’ bandwagon

    Groupon has been a massive success in the United States. It’s a deal-of-the-day site, with projected revenue of US$500m in just it’s second year of operations. It uses the framework of "collective buying", which means that if enough people sign up for a particular deal, then it’s on. If not enough people sign up, then the deal is off and everyone walks away. Revenue is shared per deal, which means that Groupon only wins if the company doing the deal wins. Of course, this framework has caught the attention of savvy business people in Africa. Rupu Rupu is a similar site...

  • India’s mobile money revolution

    India's hunger for new technology is as sharp in its countless small villages as in its shiny office towers or shopping malls -- and businesses are waking up to an area of massive potential growth. Specific designs being aimed at Indian villagers include a mobile phone cash-transfer system, similar to that of the lauded M-Pesa mobile currency in Kenya. Other innovations targeted at India's rural communities include robust low-energy refrigerators and a clever twist on the humble kitchen stove. Household cook Shivnath Yadav, 35, says he regularly sends funds via his mobile phone to his mother in the tiny village of...

  • The future of eCommerce in emerging markets

    The market for digital content in emerging markets is in a curious place at the moment. In South Africa, there are just over 6-million internet users, and less than half of those are comfortable using "higher level" web services. Effectively, those who would buy digital content are barely numbered in the hundreds of thousands. At the same time, we watch in wonder as the development of digital content is exploding throughout the developed world. Twenty-seven percent of worldwide legitimate music sales are now online (according to the IFPI). That’s a US$4.2-billion industry that has emerged in less than a decade....

  • CrowdFlower: Providing a global 24-hour workforce

    Labour-on-demand startup CrowdFlower envisions future workplaces without stifling offices and unyielding daily schedules. The San Francisco firm has taken another step in that direction with the launch of a Business Listing Verification service that lets people, ranging from stay-at-home moms to refugee camp dwellers, cash in on idle moments. The service essentially parses and distributes to many hands the daunting task of checking to make sure each business contact in a colossal database is accurate. CrowdFlower does this by using online labour distribution tools such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk, and adding to the mix safeguards to ensure accurate results. "There has been...

  • Diaspora scores on privacy but will it ever go mainstream?

    Diaspora, the open source social network that puts user privacy above all else, is now rolling out in private alpha. The question is: can it hold its own against Facebook, or MySpace, or even Ning?  Early indications seem to indicate that the answer is no. Although Facebook has run into backlash several times over its approach to users’ information, it continues to grow like gangbusters, surpassing more than 550-million unique users in October, according to ComScore. Clearly, privacy concerns are something plenty of people pay lip service to, but rarely do anything about.  If Diaspora is to succeed, it will need...