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  • Where in the world is CrowdFund?

    Almost a year ago, or eleven months ago to be precise, a brilliant crowd-based angel investment project was introduced to the South African tech startup stage, called Crowdfund. The idea, started by well-known web strategist Eve Dmochowska, included big plans for crowdsourcing funds for worthy local startups. The idea behind it all was to provide the capital, know-how and networking capability required by young entrepreneurs to launch prototypes of their ideas, in exchange for equity -- a dream come true for any entrepreneur. Dmochowska’s project shot off the starting blocks like Usain Bolt at the Olympics. By the end...

  • Company Office

    FinChatBot to improve customer service, reduce costs for financial services

    If you’ve had enough of being put on hold, speaking to call centres in India or waiting for that promised call back on your query from people who never call back, you are probably ready for a chatbot. Chatbots have arrived in South Africa and are kicking off in financial services. Chatbots are life like text based online conversations to connect businesses with their customers. These conversations are possible on websites, Facebook messenger or on apps. They are intelligent conversations made possible through artificial intelligence and machine learning. If you think spending 45 minutes on the phone is absurd to take...

  • Watch these proposed laws! They will affect your startup

    The younger your company, the easier it can be to adapt to new laws. It’s a fact that the business environment makes a huge difference to whether or not entrepreneurs succeed. Here in South Africa a number of proposals, also known as bills, are being discussed by government for passing by the National Parliament and final approval by President Jacob Zuma. It’s best to foresee what these proposed laws will require – and what you can do to secure your business against their effects. Here are three you should watch before making your next move. IP Act: The act,...

  • 8 ways to bootstrap your company

    "Bootstrap, bootstrap, bootstrap,” says Ira Weiss at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. "Create an advisory board and use the advisory for contacts. Try to get people interested in what you are doing and ask them for guidance. Pitch your idea to industry experts. Favour business models that generate cash sooner. Get external validation for your idea. The best way is through creating a product or service and securing customers that can be references,” she added when discussing prospects for 2011 with Fox Business. The aim of many entrepreneurs is to take a business idea and convert it...

  • Online shoppers reap the benefits of flash sale and group deals

    It’s no secret that everyone loves a good bargain, no matter who they are or what their income level is. This simple insight is the key to the flash sales and group deals which are becoming increasingly popular in South Africa. With discounts of up to 70% for those in the know, it’s no surprise that the sector is gaining traction. SaleWine.co.za is one such site. It uses flash sales to sell its wines for up to 70% off the retail price and has attracted over 7 000 shoppers who eagerly await its new wine emails. “Last week, I...

  • Could Chinese venture capital back African innovation?

    Chinese venture capitalists have clearly stated their desire to see the success of the western venture capital process replicated in their country. State and private firms have begun to take initiatives and institute policy reforms in recent years in order to meet that target. The Hualu Group, one of the biggest Chinese state-owned enterprises which focuses on the audio and video industry, has been quietly forging ahead in the tech sector. In 2010 Hualu Group's new video website adopted a business model which combines videos with e-commerce, including the broadcasting of popular TV series, interactive advertising, and sales of Blu-Ray...

  • Will computer-generated narratives make journalists redundant?

    There’s been an undercurrent of paradox kicking up dust in my otherwise clinical views on technology. I've tried to suppress it, but it keeps bubbling to the surface. I consider myself not only pro-technology, but obsessed with it, and someone who is neither afraid of the future nor the technology that it will bring. When I first read about Stats Monkey a software project lead by Stuart Frankel - a former DoubleClick executive - and Kris Hammond - a Northwestern University computer science professor - that could automatically create sports stories based solely on raw game data, I had a...

  • Cognician: A thought is a terrible thing to waste

    The mind is the greatest tool available to man and thoughts and ideas are its most profound expression. One idea could change the entire human race if managed properly. However, a great idea is useless unless you do something with it, and modern society can make it very hard for us to map out our ideas. Enter Cognician, a software platform and an Adobe Air application designed to organise your thoughts and ideas and create a "user-friendly" guide for your thinking. On Wednesday the site launches a new tool called "The Decision Book", which aims to assist customers with...

  • Hipster: ‘Something cool is coming soon’ to a city near you

    People all around the "twitterverse" have been bragging about signing up for an exclusive invite to a site that does... well, hmn.... what it does is still unknown. But the site in question, Hipster, is a placeholder that has been generating some serious online buzz. Click onto the site and all you get is a beautiful picture of a city (if you are in the United States, your city specifically). You are welcomed by the rather cryptic message "Something cool is coming", then you are required to enter your email address to get the exclusive invite to this alleged...

  • Corporates embracing social media for information workers

    When musician Dave Carroll flew on United Airlines, his guitar was broken by careless baggage handlers. Employees and customer care were indifferent and the airline offered no compensation. So Dave responded by creating a music video called “United breaks guitars” and United felt the wrath of citizen journalism, the social web, and millions of airline travellers. In just 10 days the video received nearly four million views and over fifteen thousand comments on YouTube, and to date the video has been watched over nine million times. It’s an example of how well technology works for the consumers dealing with...

  • eCommerce startup SnapBill launches to a global audience

    SnapBill, a South African startup specialising in online invoicing and billing systems, launched out of beta on Tuesday to a global audience. The company facilitates online billing systems for businesses requiring automated recurring or subscription billing and payment collection. Its international competitors include the well-known Freshbooks, Invoicera, BlinkSale, BallPark, Invoice Machine -- and to some extent services like Chargify, Recurly, Spreedly and CheddarGetter. The self-funded venture, developed by entrepreneurs Josh Yudaken and Jaco van Wyk using the profits from their web hosting company Lusion Technologies, claims to have acquired "over 1 000 active South African SME and enterprise users, some...

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