StartSmart wants to put SA startups on a budget in the cloud


With the evolution of cloud services over the years, entrepreneurs from across the world can compete with each other by simply having access to the internet. Cloud services may have their perks, although having access to the skills to adequately develop innovative internet-based products and services is either scarce or too expensive for your average SME — especially in emerging markets.

With a focus on startups in Africa, StartSmart offers turnkey software solutions to other companies that don’t have the adequate funds needed to employ their own IT professionals. The company has a strong belief in the adoption and power of cloud-based technologies and hopes to leverage this to help other startups create products or services that are both scalable and sustainable.

With more thank 20 years experience working for the likes of the BBC, Financial Times, HP and Amazon, founder and CEO Jerome Wagner thought it best to help further the need of smaller companies to adopt cloud-based technologies.

Based in Cape Town, South Africa StartSmart is self-funded, launched in December 2013 and currently employs four staff members who together have over 50 years of experience in software development. “We have gathered our skills and are focusing squarely on startups, we want to be the DevOps team some cannot afford to employ,” notes Wagner.

Wagner suggests that the use of cloud solutions will help local startups manage their products with tight budgets without losing a competitive edge. Wagner stresses that focusing on startups as its customers is important for following the learning curve as the business matures. “We really want to be part of something that will eventually grow into a fully sustainable business model,” he says.

South Africa’s cloud services market value is expected to grow to nearly US$230-million in 2014. The Rand/Dollar exchange rate is also said to have a significant impact on cost-effective services internationally meaning that the outsource market for local developers has the potential to grow beyond their borders.

When asked about the challenges it currently faces, Wagner notes that the uptake of cloud technology in South Africa is being hindered by the cost of ADSL and hosting in general. Having an internet solutions-based product or service is still very expensive and in some cases unreliable.

“The use of cloud computing in Africa is still in its infancy but I hope it can be used as a tool for good to give the correct exposure to all the brilliant people out there as well as providing a scalable secure platform for success,” says Wagner.

He notes that, “The use of cloud computing can make Africa self-sufficient in terms of how they conduct business and with whom. We are a rich continent and have many brilliant minds, the smart use of technology can make us less dependent on others to cultivate and enrich the daily lives of everyone.”

If you haven’t heard the buzz in the last decade, cloud computing offers cheaper, more agile and scalable products and services. StartSmart says, “By nature we are cloud evangelists, we want to serve the world using turnkey products, we don’t want to re-invent the wheel. We just want to show you how to work smarter on a global level.”

While we wait for internet services providers to lower their rates, maybe companies like StartSmart can help us out.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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