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  • 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...

  • Company Office

    Sureswipe’s MD receives the 2018 National Entrepreneur Champion Award

    Sureswipe’s managing director, Paul Kent received the 2018 National Entrepreneur Champion award, which was announced by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC), in association with World Famous Events on Friday 9 November. Kent commented, "We were honoured to walk away with two nominations this year -- one personal award for the National Entrepreneur Champion and a second for Sureswipe being nominated in the 'NSBC Top 20' Small business category. I was overwhelmed and excited to be nominated, but very thankful for such a prestigious acknowledgment from our industry," "I am proud to stand alongside the other seven champions who won awards...

  • 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...

  • Google’s Groupon deal makes no sense

    Faith Merino at VatorNews reported on Monday that Google had purchased Groupon for $2.5 billion: "... according to an unnamed insider who spoke with VatorNews. Neither Google nor Groupon could be reached for comment to confirm the report, but Vator's source is reliable and the report falls in line with the recent string of Groupon acquisition rumours." On Tuesday Kara Swisher at All Things D reported that her sources said that Google would pay $5.3 billion plus a $700 million earnout if Groupon meets sales targets. "... it is a killer move for Google-despite the high price-given it has long tried to...

  • What a startup can learn from a restaurant menu

    It's often said that one of the biggest challenges for an entrepreneur is focus. Naturally, this is coupled with multiple challenges like cash flow, growth management, and your general sanity. It's also said that the great thing about being an entrepreneur is the freedom that comes with it. However, that freedom is largely illusionary unless you are running a lifestyle company or you've hit the megabucks early. Most entrepreneurs find themselves shackled by other responsibilities: Responsibility for the talent in the organisation, strategic direction of the company, trying to build more with less, the demanding pace of the new startup...

  • Evly.com first look: Will this new crowdsourcing social network work?

    Sometimes it just so happens that a new technology service really speaks to you. The first time I saw Groupon, I thought that it was one of the most compelling services seen in quite some time. Clearly I was not the only one. Google is rumoured to have made an offer to acquire Groupon for US$3-billion. My first look at Evly however did not elicit quite the same initial reaction. The crowdsourcing social network had a soft launch this month. Its founder, Eran Eyal, of Springleap fame, touted their efforts as cutting-edge and having the potential to revolutionise the internet. Based...

  • Salesforce.com in major expansion drive

    Salesforce.com has been on a tear this year with financial results exceeding Wall Street estimates; a massive expansion of its headquarters in San Francisco; a gift of $100 million to build a Children's hospital; and now: luring JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist at UK Telecom giant BT to assume the same position at Salesforce. Larry Dignan, writing at ZDNet, reports: "...Rangaswami will contribute to the company's product strategy and be an evangelist for cloud computing around the globe. Rangaswami will focus on European customers and preaching real-time collaboration." In a statement, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said Rangaswami has "the...

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