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After launching in March of this year, the fund has banded together 229 investors to raise a total of R1-million in capital for budding online start ups. After less than thirty days since its inception, Crowdfund is already primed to spark new entrepreneurial life in South Africa.
The investors enthusiasm about Crowdfund illustrates a wide-spread recognition that South Africa has the potential to become major player in the global tech industry if it can channel its abundance of brilliant ideas into real, tangible developments.
The brain child of Web Strategist Eve Dmochowska, Crowdfund will provide the capital, know-how and networking capability required by young entrepreneurs to launch prototypes of their ideas, in exchange for equity. Once a start up has produced a workable prototype, the formal venture capital network is approached for further investment, and Crowdfund bows out.
The Crowdfund board will evaluate applications for funding , and choose between 10 and 20 applicant teams with excellent ideas and global ambition, and grant them between R50 000 and R100 000 to turn their ideas into a sellable product.
From the outset, Dmochowska decided to cap the total an individual could invest at a minimum of R1 000, and a maximum of R10 000.
“This is the first time anything like this is being done. I didn’t want people betting the farm on it. I wanted them to treat it more as a social investment, with a possible positive ROI [return on investment].”
In the light of its social investment bent, the popularity of the venture is even more remarkable. Tech industry leaders such as Vinny Lingham, Heather Ford, Justin Spratt, Brett Haggard, Gareth Knight, Craig Blumenow, Elan Lohmann and Dmochowska herself are giving up their time and expertise to serve on the Crowdfund board.
With that kind of personnel firepower, Crowdfund is sure to catalyse critical growth in the South African tech industry by giving life to ideas that would otherwise have no outlet for expression and development.
As yet the board is evaluating a number of promising applications. Dmochowska feels that Crowdfund will have successfully met its goals once it helps “at least two or three projects get second round of funding at a fair evaluation”.
To apply for funding, or find out more about Crowdfund, visit crowdfunding.co.za.