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  • 5 Common mistakes startups make when applying for funding

    There is a perception among entrepreneurs that a revolutionary idea is enough to secure the venture capital needed to kick-start their businesses. This is simply not true. Here are five of the most common mistakes made by entrepreneurs when applying for VC funding. 1. No WOW! Factor The first rule in the VC game is that your business proposition must have an exceptional differentiating factor. You need to know what your sustainable competitive advantage will be. If you're trying to raise funding for a conventional business or idea like a franchise or service business, VC is probably not the...

  • Company Office

    Mama Money makes FICA simple: take a photo and a selfie

    The South African-based fintech startup that offers the cheapest cross border money transfer rates into key African countries and now into India, has introduced the easiest online registration process using its app – taking a photo and a selfie. This is a first in South Africa and is approved by the Financial Intelligence Centre and the SA Reserve Bank. Mama Money co-founder, Raphael Grojnowski (pictured above, right), explains: “To register, you simply download the Mama Money Family App from the Google Play store, enter you contact details, take a photo of your passport or ID and a selfie holding the document. This is...

  • The group buying collapse is coming

    Group buying. Daily deals. Social commerce. Call it what you will, but the sheer number of blatant knock-offs that have sprung up in global markets following the "success" of Groupon and LivingSocial should give you a hint that all is not well. A fair number of these startups are nothing more than two or three people, a few laptops, an internet connection and phone line. They're strangely reminiscent of those outfits that sold small businesses those five-page microsites a decade ago. Small businesses got ripped off with websites based on cookie-cutter templates. Users/customers got ripped off because they actually couldn’t...

  • Markets fall: What will happen to Silicon Valley recovery?

    Turmoil in global financial markets and economies is never good for Silicon Valley despite the fact that the regional economy has its own boom and bust cycles that operate on a different timetable. Currently, Silicon Valley has been booming, recapturing the trend that was in place in the second half of 2008, before the financial meltdown, of growing VC investments and jobs. It has to be asked though, whether like that recovery in 2008 which ran smack into an economic crisis, this recovery will again be nipped in the bud. Maybe. Profits at the large Silicon Valley companies such as Google...

  • Mobicanvas hitting the bottom line with free mobile sites

    Creating mobile websites which can be viewed on any feature phone or smartphone has gained traction globally. One South African startup is capitalising by offering the service at no cost, while laying claim to a simple drag and drop interface. Mobicanvas is a web tool that helps any business or individual to easily and cheaply build, promote and monetise its own mobile websites, claims Stephen Ballot, one of the company's co-founders. The company promotes an easy-to-use drag and drop interface amongst its key features. "Building a mobile site, or any site for that matter, has never been easier",...

  • 3 reasons NOT to start a group buying site

    The group buying industry sprang to life with very little warning. Groupon began a trend and soon everyone wanted a piece of the action. This phenomenon has been popular in emerging market countries such as South Africa where it began with Wicount in 2010. By January 2011, big names like Groupon and Bidorbuy had bought out smaller South African sites like UbuntuDeal and with a very low barrier to entry, the market exploded. It would seem that it is an industry to have a look at, especially for an entrepreneur; perhaps you can start your own group buying site?...

  • Startup Weekends hit South Africa

    In what could be a potential boon for tech entrepreneurs in the region, Startup Weekends have arrived in South Africa. Startup Weekends are established in Silicon Valley, but until recently, South Africa had missed out on the benefits of this exciting 54-hour weekend phenomenon. The initiative involves teams gathering from Friday evening to Sunday night to set up a business, ultimately vying for the top position as judges assess the best business ideas at the end of the weekend. The first weekend took place in Cape Town, with Johannesburg having its own Startup Weekend soon after. ...

  • MTN Mobile Money launches debit card-based online shopping solution

    eCommerce service provider, MTN Mobile Money, has launched a mobile payment mechanism, which will enable users to purchase products online using a debit card. MTN Mobile Money says the mechanism, called payD, will enable millions of South Africans to make secure, online payments using only their pin-based debit cards. It is hoped that payD will provide a boost to South Africa's lagging ecommerce market. World Wide Worx's Online Retail in SA 2011 report shows that retail ecommerce hit R2 billion last year. "This sounds big", says Dave Parratt, head of new business development at MTN Mobile Money, "but it’s...

  • Blink Tower: Making money by explaining ideas

    If a picture says a thousand words then, some may argue, a video packs in a million. In the internet age, concentration spans are increasingly shrinking. An effective message makes a point and keeps attention. The fact that there are arguments that social media may be causing attention deficit disorder is perhaps enough to underlie the issue. Enter Blink Tower, which believes it has a solution. Its founders, including Skyrove's Henk Kleynhans say they turn ideas into simple videos which "even your grandmother can understand". The company simply titles its videos "explainers", a term which came up frequently during an...

  • 5 chess principles for internet business practitioners

    Gamification and how we can apply mechanics and principles from the world of games to our products is an idea on the rise, but it does have its limits. Have you considered gamifying yourself as a business practitioner? Chess is a good place to start. Serious chess nerds have linked improvement in their game to enhanced business acumen. This is not completely unrealistic, given the well-documented positive influence of chess on child development in areas like self-esteem, organisational skills, better thinking and problem-solving abilities. Chess-playing managers recognise many parallels between chess and business. In both cases you are required...

  • 5 steps to show you’re a safe investment, even in an ‘unsafe’ market

    The US Chamber of Commerce have lamented the fact that American investors were losing out opportunities in emerging markets during a time when the recession was killing profits seemingly everywhere. Part of the fear is a lack of stability and concern over just how safe it is to put money in areas where returns have been massive. If your country’s investment profile doesn’t seem that great, it may not be so much your business, but the perception of your nation’s institutions that create uncertainty. The Index of Economic Freedom shows that an open market, fair rules and a...