13 South African startups to look out for in 2013

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SA flag

It’s been a busy year for South Africa’s startup scene and as we start winding down the last quarter of 2012, we decided to reflect on some of the successes we witnessed.

The startups listed here either secured funding this year, or were recognised at a competition. While the list isn’t intended to be exhaustive, these are the stories we reported on, so you can read more about the startups, competitions and venture capital companies that help drive South Africa’s entrepreneurial community forward.

Being self-funded is great, but if you find yourself weighing seed capital, new funding rounds or you’re just looking for competitions that recognise up-and-comers, you might get some ideas here.

As always, we’ll keep monitoring the scene and if you ever have a success story to share with us, or you’d just like to tell us about your startup please let us know.


The innovative try-before-you-buy beauty subscription startup received funding from venture capitalist Hasso Plattner Ventures Africa, for an undisclosed sum in September this year.


Moneysmart secured funding from Johan Schoeman and GT Ferreira, Chairman of RMB Holdings Limited earlier this year. When Ventureburn reported on Moneysmart’s official launch in August, the online personal finance manager (PFM) was showing good traction with just under 10 000 users being reported.

Real Time Wine

At the time of writing, Real Time Wine concluded its first round of successful fundraising through angel investment group, AngelHub. The bite sized social wine review service secured private angel funding from angel investors such as Michael Jordaan, owner of Bartinney Wines and Mike Ratcliffe, managing director at Warwick Wine Estate.


Nomanini, the prepaid voucher business-in-a-box, recently raised US$600 000 in series-A funding from the Netherlands based eVentures Africa Fund as well as Esther Dyson — the angel investor who sits on the board of companies such as 23andMe, Evernote and Meetup.


Pashash received angel investment of US$50 000 through Umbono, Google’s startup incubator. The a location-aware mobile app that lets you share the things you buy or like in brick-and-mortar retail stores also won the South African leg of The Next Web’s Startup World competition in Cape Town recently.


The online brain training software startup won the Idea Stage track at LaunchCapeTown earlier this year. Other Idea Stage winners included mobile payment service Ching and home monitoring company Homebug.


Snapplify, the service that transform PDFs into company branded mobile applications won the Growth Stage track at LaunchCapeTown. Other Growth Stage winners included animation studio, Triggerfish, and hyper-local content service Umuntu Media

Triggerfish received several million dollars in funding from the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, the National Film & Video Foundation and its US partners which include Wonderful Works, 120dB Film Finances, and Cinema Management Group.

Umuntu Media is backed by the eVentures Africa Fund.


The virtual tax assisstant we covered earlier this year, received US$25 000 in seed funding from Umbono and secured a second round of funding through local angel investors and an international mentor, bringing TaxTim’s valuation up to ZAR1.8 million (about US$219 500).


Though not born in South Africa, Gyft’s founder Vinny Lingham certainly was. Gyft is a mobile gift card app and was a TechCrunch Disrupt finalist this year. During the event Lingham confirmed that Gyft raised financing from sources such as Google Ventures, 500 Startups and Founder Collective.


Gigham, a new online events portal, secured funding through Umbono earlier this year.


Paperight aims to repurpose the humble copy shop for printing affordable books, while protecting the rights of authors and publishers. The startup launched in May this year and received funding through the Shuttleworth Foundation.


We’ve yet to have an in-depth look at SampleBoard, but we were first introduced to the startup at an Umbono event where founder Rosslyn Tebbutt talked about her service which helps you conceptualise visual ideas — think interiors, weddings, fashion, landscaping and so on. SampleBoard is both self-funded and received seed funding of US$50 000 through Umbono earlier this year.

Virtual Firehose

Virtual Firehose won Startup Weekend Cape Town 2012. The system aims to overcome the management and reporting challenges that emergency services teams face due to outdated systems.

Image: Big Stock



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