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  • Developing a great idea into a business

    Being able to make something doesn’t mean you’re an entrepreneur, being able to make a business out of it does. I’ve met many great developers across Africa, some who would be considered "top of the class" in any country in the world. Unfortunately, some confuse starting a company for running a business. It’s easy to get a legal entity, a company name and even a prototype out into the market. It’s hard to earn money off of that idea, even enough to make it self-sustaining, much less profitable. I can think of a couple reasons why this might be. Sometimes I...

  • Company Office

    How to take your business global

    Many South African businesses have ambitions far greater than the domestic market. This is particularly true of financial services as our system is the most advanced in Africa, with first world infrastructure that resembles that found in developed markets. Consequently, financial services solutions developed here are highly relevant to developed markets. Andile Maseko, head of strategy and ecosystem at AlphaCode says, "There are a number of strong examples of South African fintech companies that have become global successes. By focusing on the right aspects and learning from key players, you can turn global ambitions into reality." AlphaCode is the Rand Merchant Investment...

  • Can entrepreneurship be taught?

    For decades, entrepreneurship has been viewed as something risky and mysterious that only a few lucky mavericks could master. This perception has been fuelled by a public reverence for successful individuals, who seem to have had no formal training to which their entrepreneurial success could be attributed. Some educational institutions have also shunned or quashed entrepreneurship as a non-discipline, something unteachable and incongruous with traditional discipline-based courses. Whilst the significance of entrepreneurship for a country’s economy is rarely disputed, the much-debated question is whether entrepreneurship is an elusive and exclusive "talent" that is inherent in some, or whether it can...

  • Four things large companies can learn from startups

    Any startup company is agile by design and necessity. There are certain characteristics of a startup that make an agile approach come naturally, and allows startups to achieve far more in a month than some larger companies do in a quarter. Paying attention to these key principles, one can encourage the startup approach in larger organisations - not just in the design and development teams, but beyond to all areas of the business. As a disclaimer, let me say upfront: this is not a technical discussion. It’s not about how to implement a specific Agile methodology, but more about finding...

  • SA startup selected as one of Techcrunch’s ‘Best New Startups’

    The TechCrunch Europas, the European Startup Awards for tech companies, has listed Cognician, a South African technology startup, as one of the top 11 Best New Startup's in 2010. The Europas serve to honour the best technology companies and startups across the web and mobile space. The awards span 22 categories and recognise and celebrate the most compelling technology startups, internet and mobile innovations of the past year. Cognician, the original thought processor that presents content in the form of provocative questions, helps users to apply the author's ideas to their own tasks, so that they can think better, further and...

  • Evly.com: The art of outsourcing crowdsourcing

    Evly.com claims to be the "world's first crowdsourcing social network" and launches next Monday with the goal of bringing users together to "solve new challenges". The site is the brainchild of the team who developed Springleap, a Cape Town-based T-shirt design crowdsourcing company, based on threadless.com, which has carved out a remarkable niche on the web. Crowdsourcing is the method of sourcing a solution from a crowd, community or social network as opposed to a single contractor with the understanding that the wisdom of the crowd is greater than the wisdom of the individual. As an example South African snack-food...

  • Nigeria’s rapidly growing online job search market

    When you start talking about online employment sites, you're likely to mention global behemoths such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, both originating from the United States. Or perhaps you think about the UK's Reed.co.uk or India's Naukri.com. But with the success of these online career sites as an example, Nigerian entrepreneurs are finally keying into the online job search market. Today there are probably over 100 online job sites in Nigeria, all offering to match employers and employees, but with different business models and technical functionality. Some of the most popular online job sites in Nigeria include Jobberman.com, CareersNigeria.com (which I...

  • Popular SA magazines go digital via kalahari.net

    One of the country’s largest online retailers kalahari.net has expanded its digital content offering by selling electronic versions of some popular magazine titles online, mainly from the Media24 stable. These include You, Huisgenoot, Go!, Ideas and other titles. They are now available for purchase in digital format, with others to be added on an ongoing basis. Gerjo Hoffman, Senior Category Manager of eContent at kalahari.net says the addition of eMagazines to kalahari.net’s offering forms part of a drive to expand its digital offering beyond eBooks. “We are making the adoption of this new format as easy as possible. This can be...

  • Qwiki and Storify: Disruptive storytelling comes of age

    On October 26, Qwiki, a new "information experience" platform, opened its doors to pre-invited users as an Alpha web product. As this year’s winning startup of TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, a lot of expectation is riding on co-founder and CEO, Doug Imbruce, who is promising to do nothing less than change the way we receive information. In its current form, Qwiki trawls the API’s of the web (including Wikipedia, Google Maps, LinkedIn, Yelp and others) to assemble (mostly) coherent, interactive videos on over 2- million topics, from the French Revolution to The Godfather movies and Thabo Mbeki. Every slice...

  • Yammer founder on PayPal: Understanding the power of virality…

    I spent an evening last week with the founders of the private social network Yammer, Box.net, and Zendesk, and I wanted to share a conversation I had with Yammer co-founder David Sacks and his pedigree at PayPal. I have a fascination with PayPal and its alumni because they have gone on to build and invest in some of Silicon Valley's top companies: YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Zynga and many more. Here's a partial list of PayPal's founders and their achievements: - Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and a very successful angel investor: Facebook, Ironport, Digg, Flickr, Ping.fm, Last.fm, Zynga. - Peter Thiel and his...

  • Why Angel funding is killing innovation

    I'm a fan of Max Levchin and his fellow Paypal alumni because this group has spent the past five years creating many of the more interesting Silicon Valley startups. Levchin recently sold Slide to Google and he is an investor in Yelp and several other startups. And he is still young and has a lot more to add to his Wikipedia page before he is done. Levchin writes on his blog, but only very occasionally. One such occasion was fairly recently, his first since mid-2008, a critique of Silicon Valley's angel community. Angels have done very well for themselves over the past...

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