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  • Startups, try doing things that don’t scale [Infographic]

    Startups are often defined as lean businesses that can scale, reaching new markets easily far and wide. While this might be the case, it doesn't mean that all startups should scale in everything they do. In an essay by Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, he argues that startups should focus on doing things that don't scale. According to Graham, startups should, for instance, approach their first customers physically to make a sale happen. Graham recalls how Stripe used to physically set up its service onto other startup founders' computers at the Y Combinator incubator, instead of just blasting out hundreds...

  • Company Office

    Can brokers use robo-advice to their advantage?

    It seems every year there's a new development that threatens to make traditional financial advisers and insurance brokers obsolete. In the past few years it was the Retail Distribution Review (RDR) and the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPI). So far, none have disrupted what some refer to as the 'dinosaur' of the traditional insurance industry. But a new foe has emerged in the form of robo-advice: automated algorithms and digital techniques to give consumers the advice and products they need sans advisor. Earlier this year, Lawrence Wintermeyer, Innovate Finance (the UK's fintech industry body) CEO, told Business Insider that robo-advice covers anything from execution right up to where a client has to sign...

  • How this Accra-based incubator is nurturing entrepreneurs to build pan-African products

    A few months ago, I wrote a piece on the contrasting views of some African tech stakeholders, including Lagos-based CcHub’s Bosun Tijani, on the usefulness of entrepreneurship training programmes in ensuring the success of startups in the various African markets. While there are some who don’t entirely believe in entrepreneurship training, some institutions and incubators do have various programmes for entrepreneurs. Ghana, Accra-based Meltwater School of Entrepreneurship (MEST) is probably the continent’s most revered institution that equips tech entrepreneurs to compete in the pan-African mobile and to scale globally. With numerous success stories in its company profile page, Neal Hansch,...

  • SA accelerator boasts startup success, R65m in revenue generated

    Adding weight to its belief that business growth can be engineered, South African VC firm Knife Capital has just revealed "explosive" results of its second Grindstone accelerator programme. On average, the 12 participating companies collectively grew revenue by R65-million while creating more jobs. The programme follows an already impressive Grindstone 2014 which climaxed in the acquisition of radar startup iKubu by Garmin. Grindstone 2015 had a tough act to follow, no doubt. "The success of our first programme meant that we've now set a precedent for ourselves, and we didn't want to be a once-off hit," said Andrea Bӧhmert of Knife...

  • A Day in the Life of: Launchlab operations manager Brandon Paschal [Native Article]

    Behind every incubator or accelerator you'll find a dedicated individual, keeping the gears turning. Whether that means helping a startup formulate its business plan or showing off product demos to visitors, operations managers play a pivotal role in any startup ecosystem. For the first article of our A Day in the Life of... series, we're following Brandon Paschal, the operations manager at the Nedbank Launchlab in Stellenbosch. After finishing his Business Science degree in the US, Brandon Paschal moved to Johannesburg in 2004 where he started working for Campus Outreach, focusing on leadership development. Seven years later he moved over to...

  • Here’s why execution is the most important commodity for your startup’s success

    Wikipedia, that wealth of internet answers, defines execution as “the act or mode or result of performance”. It also has the bits about chopping off heads and ending existence but we’ll leave that for journalists to discuss. Execution is a word I’ve grown to appreciate and use more and more frequently. Not the premature cause of death for bad guys, but the satisfaction of getting things done and seeing them finished. It expresses decisiveness and achievement. In the world of startups and young businesses, that’s so much harder than it seems and thus so satisfying when accomplished. In my years...

  • Investors’ roadshow to showcase African talent, adventures

    German and Mauritian-based investors' roadshow Invnture is launching its first trip this coming March, showcasing startups and adventures that South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe have to offer. Filled with pitches as well as cultural activities, the roadshow is meant to change the way investors think about companies by giving them an "on-the-ground" experience. The roadtrip will introduce investors to over 25 investment-hungry startups, that range from tech, tourism, agriculture and the mining industry. It will be targeting companies valued between US$50 000 and US$500 000. For a price tag of €7 800 (nearly US$8 500), participants will also be treated to a...

  • 7 reasons why customers are abandoning your mobile shopping cart

    Shopping cart abandonment rate has always been a big concern for ecommerce retailers, but the rise of m-commerce has given this crucial metric a whole new dimension. The average shopping cart abandonment rate falls around 68%, but for mobile it is a distressing 97%. Meaning, out of 100 filled carts, only three will turn into sales. More and more people are browsing products on their smartphones, but the stats clearly tell that they are far less inclined to make final purchase on mobile devices. Shopping cart is one of the major reasons why mobile users of certain sites abandon cart...

  • The fundamentals to gaining employee commitment

    What cements the commitment of employees to an organisation? It's not the flashy name of the company, or even “better-than-the-rest“ pay packages, as one may think. People commit to substantial relationships they have with their co-workers and superiors. They find meaning in these associations. Without this, they are a lot more likely to search for work place satisfaction elsewhere. Here are a few tips to help build that employer-employee relationship: Build a relationship that show genuine interest in your employees. Form personal connections that go beyond strict work requirements and performance. Find out who your employees are and what makes them tick. All of the...

  • PM Modi unveils $1.5bn fund, tax cuts to fire up India’s startup space

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this weekend unveiled a massive US$1.5-billion fund to support the country's already fast-growing startup sector. Speaking at Startup India in New Delhi, the fund is part of the government's Action Plan, which sets out to encourage innovation and job creation in Asia's second-largest emerging market. Apart from the many millions, the Plan also includes major tax cuts, reduced regulation, procedures to fast-track patents and channels for easier access to public procurement. The government will also be responsible for a mobile app to provide "on-the-go accessibility" for all startups' regulatory needs. Read more: India’s entrepreneurial landscape according...

  • Applications open today for WeChat’s R50-million startup programme

    Applications for the WeChat Fund startup programme, aimed at the mobile space, will open today. Applicants will be required to submit a two-minute video for their application. The R50-million seed fund was announced in December and is aimed at South African startups working in the mobile space. The idea came about after WeChat saw how successful M4JAM, PicUp, and Order In were. WeChat Africa appointed tech strategy firm Batstone as it's coordinator for the programme. Its goal is to identify early-stage investment opportunities for tech startups, which will be handled throughout the application process. When asked about the programme, Alexandra Fraser, partner at Batstone, said...