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  • Innovative competition sees startups compress a pitch into a tweet

    Pitching your startup isn't easy. You've got to be concise and able to say what you do and why you should be given funding in as few words as humanly possible. But, forget about elevator pitches, what would happen if you had to do it in a 140 characters or fewer? That's exactly what angel investment group AngelHub decided to find out when it held its recent #Twitch competition. The competition saw startups pitching themselves via Twitter for a chance at winning a ticket to Tech4Africa, a top African tech conference. Here's the winning tweet: No paper. No red tape....

  • Company Office

    First Two Apple Watches Sold on bidorbuy

    (4 May 2015) The Apple magic is as strong as ever. The proof is in the sale of two Apple Watches on bidorbuy at prices that can only be described as premium. Tech7, one of thousands of sellers who sell regularly on South Africa’s online marketplace, posted his wares on 28 April: two beautiful Apple Watches, one made of aluminium alloy, and the other of stainless steel. On 3 May, one buyer snatched both, presumably happy to pay the premium price for the bragging rights of being one of the first in South Africa to wear Apple’s newest wonder. The aluminium...

  • Are startups with a female executive more likely to succeed?

    It seems that behind every successful startup you are likely to find a high-powered female executive -- or so says a report from Dow Jones. The report, titled "Women at the wheel: do female executives drive start-up success?" explores a few questions around women's roles at startups. The report doesn't really explain why women seem to make companies more successful, just that they do. It also poses some interesting questions about the influence of women in the startup world. What industries have women influenced? How have women on management teams affected exit options? At what stage do women join startups?...

  • Brazilian tech giant makes Silicon Valley play

    Brazilian tech giant TOTVS says it has established TOTVS Labs, A Silicon Valley based research and development facility that will be used to create new software and spearhead an expansion into North American markets. TOTVS is the largest enterprise software company in Latin America with more than 10 000 staff. I spoke with Vicente Goetten, executive director of TOTVS Labs. Here are some of my notes from our conversation: The move is a strategic one and will help the company become a global IT brand by leveraging the specialist cutting edge expertise of top Silicon Valley engineers. The primary focus is on...

  • 13 South African startups to look out for in 2013

    It’s been a busy year for South Africa’s startup scene and as we start winding down the last quarter of 2012, we decided to reflect on some of the successes we witnessed. The startups listed here either secured funding this year, or were recognised at a competition. While the list isn’t intended to be exhaustive, these are the stories we reported on, so you can read more about the startups, competitions and venture capital companies that help drive South Africa’s entrepreneurial community forward. Being self-funded is great, but if you find yourself weighing seed capital, new funding rounds or...

  • Signed, sealed and delivered: the Mxit/Motribe deal

    Mxit has officially inked the deal to buy social network builder Motribe. We reported a few weeks ago that the deal was in its final stages, we now have confirmation from the mobile social network that it is now the 100% owner of Motribe after buying out the current shareholders 4Di Capital, Nic Haralambous and Vincent Maher. Motribe has been working closely with Mxit over the last few months building photo-based apps for the platform. The most successful apps include MxPix (an Instagram-style photo sharing and filtering app that hit a million users in just over a month) and JudgeMe,...

  • Entrepreneur? Here are three reasons why you need to be on LinkedIn

    Entrepreneurs drive most local economies -- not only do they provide jobs to the local community, but they also boost consumerism. This is one of the main reasons why the growth of an economy is directly related to the number of professionals starting their own venture. But it is surprising that many of them don’t use LinkedIn to promote their services. Many businesses fail to understand the principles of social media. They mostly use it as an extension of their PR and communication strategy. In a recent piece, Archana Venkat had discussed some key reasons why this was a challenge...

  • Prepaid voucher business-in-a-box Nomanini raises series-A funding

    Nomanini, the company behind the little orange device that empowers individuals to earn an income while selling prepaid vouchers, recently raised US$600 000 in series-A funding from Netherlands based eVentures Africa Fund (eVA Fund) as well as Esther Dyson -- the angel investor who sits on the board of companies such as 23andMe, Evernote and Meetup. Nomanini -- “anytime” in Zulu -- plans to scale up operations in South Africa and begin further pilots across Africa. CEO Vahid Monadjem estimates that his business will have facilitated over one-million transactions in South Africa’s informal economy by March next year. The company distributes...

  • Startup Knight competition to reward innovation, major sponsors in tow

    Software-based tech startups check this out. Startup Knight, a competition courtesy of Byte Orbit, will be hosted in Cape Town later this month and is backed by major companies such as Microsoft, Nokia and 8ta. The winning startup can look forward to software packages from Microsoft to run their business for three years as well as US$60 000 worth of Azure Services. Business incubator, Bandwidth Barn will be providing office space for six months, and Nokia has come on board as a product sponsor. In addition, 8ta will be providing a 3G data modem loaded with its 60Gig + 60Gig...

  • Y Combinator is a cult and Silicon Valley is unique

    Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley-based retired serial entrepreneur, does a fabulous job in this interview in defining what makes Silicon Valley unique as a global engine of innovation. It's about culture and culture cannot be easily copied or exported. He also talks about how people around the world can be reading his posts and lessons in near-real time and that this is helping to change culture in innovation centers around the world. I disagree with this point, just because you can read something today doesn't mean that you "get it." Culture travels a lot more slowly than electrons. I refer you to...

  • mPowa beats Square to Africa in multi-million dollar deal with FNB

    This is big. Square competitor mPowa will launch its payments device in South Africa after inking a multi-million dollar deal with banking giant FNB. The deal is the first for the UK-based company, which is now offering its mobile card reading device as a white label solution. While the exact terms of the deal are unknown, mPowa says that it is in the “multimillion pound” range. Under the terms of the deal, FNB will integrate mPowa's hardware into existing merchant services (which also include mobile GeoPayments), with its own branding. “This deal validates our white label strategy, which in...