Pizza, beer and elevator pitches. Google/88mph partnership launches

Ventureburn was invited to the Google for Entrepreneurs offices in Woodstock, Cape Town for the launch of the search giant’s partnership with Kenyan-born startup accelerator 88mph.

The the 88mph programme will be merging with Google’s previous incubation programme, Umbono, and startups will be supported by both 88mph and Google for Entrepreneurs going forward. 88mph will take the lead with its structured accelerator programme and Google will provide mentorship and program support to startups in the 88mph program.

Program Manager Johanna Kollar opened the event and spoke about the demand for incubation programmes in the country. Kollar, who works on startup support programmes in emerging markets for Google, approached 88mph’s Kresten Buch in a bid to support more startups in South Africa.

Kollar said the programme’s goal was to support three times the amount of startups currently on its roster and triple the number of investors involved. “When we thought about how we could do more and support more startups. I went looking for a partner who has a very structured accelerator programme. I met Kresten in Nairobi a couple of months ago and was very excited about what he was doing,” said Kollar.

Buch an investor and entrepreneur, raised two seed funds for 88mph, specifically to support startups in Africa. The first fund invested in seven startups, with investments ranging from about US$15 000 to US$25 000 for a 6-18% equity stake.

The 88mph programme provides mentorship and office space to nurture startups with potential and the aim is to raise followup funding for them after three months. At the end of the incubation period, a demo day takes stock of how the startups have progressed. Investments are then made based on performance.

Buch spoke about the successes of two of 88mph’s investments., a football news for the Kenyan, Nigerian, and Ugandan markets received 300 000 euro additional funding from a Nigerian investor, and Kenyan online pharmacy,, received two offers and a “good” valuation.

88mph is looking to reach as many regions in Africa as possible with its sights set on West Africa next year.

Kollar revealed some stats about Google’s South African startup incubation efforts, boasting an 85% survival rate and “hundreds of thousands of dollars” injected into the startups, with two having managed to raise second rounds of funding.

Startups that would like to apply to be part of the programme can do so through the 88mph website. Applications will close 15 December.

Eight startups pitched their ideas during the event and three of them William, Dream Mobile and Mobile Campaign Manager — who was the overall winner for the evening — became finalists for the accelerator programme. Although the three winners are finalists, all the accelerator slots remain open for applicants that apply through the 88mph website.

Here’s a summary of the five-minute elevator pitches.


William is an application by gaming programmer Danny Day, that aims to make it easier to split a bill among friends. William uses OCR technology to “turn a normal paper bill into something electronic that can be taken apart.”

At the end of the evening, simply take a picture of the bill with your smartphone and William will present you with a digital version of the items and their prices. Tap on the ones you ordered, and see the amount you owe. Clever.

William could certainly serve as a type of personal finance manager by logging expenditures. Day also kicked around some ideas for extending William’s functionality to allow for payments directly from the app, taking advantage special offers, and of course social media integration.

He listed competitors such as Billr, Tipulator and Foodivide — all lacking OCR.

Karma Footprint

Denisha Surjooden and Designan Pillay pitched an idea for an app that will reward you for doing good. Rewards in the form of points that can be redeemed at partners — think grocery stores, spas, restaurants and so on — are gained by completing tasks set by organisations that need assistance, an orphanage for example.

The app would use a combination of geolocation and verification by the organisations to verify that tasks have been completed.


Frederik Dube’s idea was further along in the development life cycle than most of the other pitches. His twitter app, Tweetary has a very polished user interface, and includes clever features such as the ability to archive all your tweets and annotate them through additional text and images.

The judges were clearly skeptical about Tweetary’s success in light of Twitter’s ongoing love-hate relationship with third-party Twitter clients that mimic too much of Twitter’s own functionality. Dube acknowledges the risk, but is confident that Tweetary delivers something unique.

The app was lauded however, for its gorgeous interface and mouth-watering graph functionality that lend insight into how you and your Twitter connections interact.


With Kiddywood, the idea is for kids to star in their own movies. Point your smartphone camera at the would-be actor, follow the onscreen instructions and watch as the movie plays out with your child in the leading role.

Though the concept is not unique — check out yoostar — the extent to which Kiddywood embeds its actors into the scenes, is said to be more immersive.

Additional scene templates will be obtainable through in-app purchases.

The team behind Kiddywood also sees it as a possible marketing tool for movie studios that want to create promotional clips of upcoming movies.


The guys behind Quotefinder wants to create a platform that allows potential buyers to contact as many relevant suppliers as possible to find the best deal.

Quotefinder would go up against competition from clever South African startup Toodu, but believes the market is big enough and hopes to compete by asking suppliers a lower price to list their services.

Dream Mobile

Dream Mobile, the makers of the Android-based Dream Phone has been around for a while. The phones are cheap as chips going for ZAR100 and ZAR200 a piece and covers the essentials such as social media — it comes pre-loaded with Facebook, Whatsapp and Mxit — uses compression technology to speed up browsing and save on data costs, and a support team to answer all your related tech questions.

As Dream Mobile controls both the hardware and software for their devices, they envision eventually shipping the phones with their own app and media stores pre-loaded.

CEO Reza Handley-Namavar is leveraging Google and Mxit to push its hardware and also announced interest from MTN. Apparently, the mobile network operator is keen on testing the Dream Phones on its network. The startup needs ZAR3 million to scale its business.


The idea behind Forilla, is to create a “virtual interactive receipt” instead of paper receipt at a point of sale. The team behind Forilla acknowledges the move towards NFC-based payments and sees benefits in creating a system that archives electronic receipts. With Forilla, once a transaction takes place, the receipt will be stored online — retail histories are useful for many things, personal finance management for example.

The idea is to embed advertising into the virtual receipts to generate revenue. The team behind Forilla would ideally like to make the receipts available to marketers; while some shudder at the thought, it could be useful to redeem loyalty points or to receive tailored special offers.

Mobile Campaign Manager

Mobile Campaign Manager is a clever marketing platform that can simultaneously target SMS, USSD, mobile web and native smartphone applications to run a variety of mobile marketing applications such as promotions, competitions, questionnaires, advertisements and newsletters.

It touts the “write-once, run-anywhere” approach and should appeal to brands that are used to outsourcing mobile campaign management and deployment.

It uses a subscription-based revenue model.

Similar local services include DeviceMagic and Journey, Mobile Campaign Manager sets itself apart by mixing old and new marketing platforms and specifically targeting mobile marketers in emerging markets.



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