African mobile startups – a call to arms: G-Startup applications open

Startup culture in emerging markets is thriving. In Africa, for example, there is no shortage of innovation nor entrepreneurship despite missing one of the key components most startups desperately need: funding.

Sure it is an emerging space, but an investment ceiling (of around R5-million) poses a huge challenge for African startups, especially in the growth phase.

One viable option is to take a company overseas in the hopes of obtaining foreign investment, but this often requires a lot of legwork, money and convincing, and results in a lot of rejection. Only the thick-skinned need apply.

If that sounds like too much for you,  another route is to enter international startup-competitions (there are hundreds around these days). Although often coming with a lot of fine print in tow, competitions can be a worthwhile endeavour for many a young entrepreneur — if you can find the right one to suit your company of course.

For African startups in the mobile sector, one competition, G-Startup, stands out, not only because it seems to be targeting Africa – in media coverage and partners – but because its stipulations might just be the right fit for African companies.

G-Startup, held at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) –  in Beijing in May this year – is effectively a platform for mobile internet startups to go head-to-head in a pitch battle to gain investment opportunities, as well as global exposure.

This year G-Startup is comprising two separate competitions: The Startup Competition and appAttack.

The Startup Competition

A pitch-battle at GMIC that pits 20 startups (ten in Seed Stage, ten in Growth Stage) against each other to win prizes ranging from incubation with a G-Startup partner to free tech gear.

  • 5 May — 20 startup projects are pre-selected from applications and each company receives feedback from mentors (investors and entrepreneurs).
  • 7 May — From there the startups receive GMIC passes, and are given 6 minutes to pitch their beloved product or service (plus a four minute Q & A with judges).
  • After receiving access to the GMIC exhibition and VIP/Speaker’s Dinner, there is a Q&A and feedback session from Top VCs and Angel Investors.
  • 8 May –- the winner is announced and demoed on the GMIC Main Stage.

Applying companies must meet these guidelines:

  • be a mobile based product/service
  • be from any country in the world
  • have a prototype/demo and or PowerPoint slides to display
  • be no more than five years old
  • must not have received more than US1$ million in funding
  • have potential to grow globally


An online competition to find the most innovative mobile app with the winner announced, and given an opportunity to present, at GMIC.

All kinds of apps are welcome to apply. Judged by a committee comprised of app platform companies, app store companies, app distributors and mobile app analysts worldwide.

All the stipulations on The Startup Competition apply to appAttack, except that the companies cannot be more than one year old, and there are no ‘previous funding’ conditions either.

African Startups – Charge!

GMIC as a platform, aims to connect innovative mobile internet startups with industry leaders across the globe.

The appeal for African startups is that it gives them an opportunity to learn, network and gain exposure, even if they don’t go the full mile and win investment. It’s also a great way to break the barriers to entry into foreign markets, especially China and Asia.

Expanding GMIC’s reach and coverage to Africa this year — Ventureburn’s parent site, Memeburn, has been invited to be a Media Partner – shows that the conference, and G-Startup’s judges (international VCs and entrepreneurs), are interested in investing in what the continent can offer.

The Startup Competiton’s rule that companies must be no more than five years-old also just so happens to suit the African model for success – where a lack of funding has encouraged an ecosystem where only the best and most innovative thrive – just fine. Being a few years old also often results in a working demo of a service or product, perfect for a competition entry.

So, African mobile startups with a proven track record, and who believe they have potential for growth, should enter G-Startup because all that is missing up until now, is a strong African presence at GMIC and G-Startup.

Let’s change that.


Applications for both The Startup Competition and appAttack are open until 7 April.

Enter G-Startup 2013 here




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