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  • Put that Schadenfreude on hold, Silicon Valley is still king

    Silicon Valley reported 226 private company acquisitions in 2012, well ahead of New York with 100 deals, and leagues ahead of any other US tech hub, reports PrivCo, which tracks such deals. The Silicon Valley region, including the wider San Francisco Bay Area, recorded 226 private company sales in 2012, next was New York with a surprising 100 deals, which ousted Boston and its 62 deals, LA had 55, and Seattle's 43 narrowly beat Austin's 40 deals and Washington D.C.'s 39. Silicon Valley companies dominated as the top acquirers in 2012 with Facebook tied with Google at 16 deals, Twitter...

  • Company Office

    Preparing your startup for international expansion

    While people often try to apply generic rules to all startup ventures, the fact remains that these entities are not created equal. So, although it's usually sound advice to suggest that entrepreneurs strive to establish their brand locally before expanding overseas, there are instances when this is arguably counterproductive. After all, it's not unknown for firms to offer products or services that have a more defined target audience overseas, while your startup may also benefit from first-hand knowledge of international expertise. If you are going to expand your business overseas, however, you'll need to ensure that you're fully prepared. Here are some...

  • Building a tech-focused continent: 9 of Africa’s innovation hubs

    Innovation, mobile, tech and startups. These are Africa's buzzwords. A continent that arrived late to the web revolution, Africa is catching up fast and leading the way in some aspects. The continent is working overtime to build and create products, services and businesses that can rival that of the developed world. It is no longer the dark continent. According to a Daily Beast report, Africa is being heralded as the "new Asia" and the "home of the next Google". "Compared to dismal rates in the rest of the world, Africa’s growth is exceptional," Gustavo Galindo, a portfolio manager with...

  • Dear Asia, please stop trying to be Silicon Valley and do your own thing

    One of my favourite jokes about Silicon Valley goes like this: A million guys walk into a Silicon Valley bar. None of them buy anything. The bar is declared a rousing success. It underlines an unbounded enthusiasm that you wouldn’t find elsewhere. And yet, this hasn’t stopped cities like Beijing, Bangalore, Singapore, Shenzhen, Daejeon, and even Ho Chi Minh city, being touted as the next Silicon Valley. People think that if you’ve got a bunch of tech companies all in one place you can call it a Silicon Valley. But the fact is, people don’t tell these kinds of jokes...

  • Early-stage startup accelerator with Silicon Valley roots to launch in SA soon

    The Founder Institute (FI) is the latest incubator to hit South Africa. The global network, headquartered in Silicon Valley, focuses on accelerating early-stage startups. Founded in 2009, the FI has helped more than 650 companies in roughly 50 cities around the world create enduring technology companies -- we've briefly written about Udemy, an FI alumnus before. The South African chapter, steered by director Keith Jones, is in the process of preparing for its first full length programme, scheduled to commence 28 May 2013 in Johannesburg. The FI aims to improve the success rates of early-stage startups. With that goal in mind,...

  • Why is talking about money in SA’s startup scene a no-no?

    Trying to get an investment amount out of a startup in South Africa is nearly impossible. I used to think that it's because the amounts are so little that the startups are a tad embarrassed to state publicly that, truth be told, their companies aren't really worth that much. But that cannot be the case. We know of companies that have received hundreds of millions in funding, but choose not to make the figures public. Why? Surely this cannot be a case of culture, where we are too polite to talk about money because it's seen as a taboo subject. If...

  • The need for both makerspaces and incubators in Africa

    I’ve long been a proponent of getting more spaces set up for hardware prototyping and making of things in Africa. I wrote about it first in 2010 (Hardware hacking garages), then again in 2012 (Fab Factories: Hardware Manufacturing in Africa). I’m one of the founding organizers for Maker Faire Africa and the founder of AfriGadget. I’m not just writing about it either, as we have plans to open up a makerspace in Nairobi this year, which will compliment the FabLab that we already have at the University of Nairobi. Well managed makerspaces are a missing component in the...

  • Making it in Africa: 5 tips for effectively localising your product

    Selling Africa to investors, multinationals and enterprising entrepreneurs is becoming easier every day. The International Monetary Fund reckons by 2015, African countries will account for 7 of the top 10 fastest-growing economies. For the businesses that are lining up to enter the world’s second most populous continent, good language localisation strategies are set to separate the predators from the prey. Research by Common Sense Advisory suggests that the majority of consumers are more likely to buy a product with information in their own language. Things get interesting when you realise that Africa is one of the most multilingual regions in...

  • Spier Films invests millions in Triggerfish’s second animated feature

    Production and finance company, Spier Films, recently made an investment in Triggerfish Animation Studio’s second animated film, Khumba. Triggerfish CFO Jean-Michel Koenig, revealed to Ventureburn that the investment is in fact a multi-million rand deal. Spier has funded a slate of successful films including Master Harold and the Boys, Son of Man and Black Butterflies. This is the first time the company has invested in an animated feature film. Triggerfish's first international animated feature, Zambezia, received a R17-million investment from South Africa's Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) -- an amount disclosed by the IDC in its financial results for 2009. Zambezia went...

  • Real Time Wine founder, SAB launch beer social discovery app — MyBeer

    Where there is a wine drinker, apparently some beer drinkers will follow? It seems so as wine rating app Real Time Wine (RTW) founder Andy Hadfield teamed up with South African Breweries (SAB) in a project that seeks to accommodate beer drinkers with the launch of MyBeer. Commissioned by SAB, the app touts itself as "the social community for beer drinkers in South Africa" and encourages you to "share your beer experiences, rate and review beers and find out what your friends are drinking." According the RTW, this new offering is aimed at enhancing the beer culture in the country....

  • Will the world replace employees with entrepreneurs? [Infographic]

    If the number of entrepreneurs keeps rising, we may well find ourselves in a world full of innovators, creators and risk-takers in the not-too-distant future. New ideas, new ways of doing business, new clients coming in every day... sounds great right? Well not for the regular employees of the world according to a recent infographic by Funders and Founders. The infographic argues that not only are startups turning away from traditional employees, but so are large enterprises such as Google, small businesses and agencies. Its basis for argument is that 30% of current large tech companies have set up seed funds with the...