These are SA’s top four ‘U-Startups’ heading to Milan


The South African leg of the U-Start startup conference has come to an end with four impressive contenders awarded the opportunity to present their ventures in Milan, Italy. Mellowcabs, wiGroup, CapeRay and Over have been chosen to present South Africa in the global startup pitch competition taking place 13-14 May.

In an attempt to give the top of the crop startups from emerging markets and beyond exposure and access to high net-worth funding, these four ventures will have access to mentorship, incubation, a week of training, one-year free access to the U-Start platform and international exposure to media and investors.

The Cape Town judging panel included Gavin Ellis, Head of Client Acquisition, Barclays South Africa; James Durrant, UK Founder of Mambo; Marc Elias, CEO of Seed Engine, Catherine Townshend, Head of Endeavor South Africa; Peter Van Der Zee of IDC Venture Capital; and Stefano Guidotti, CEO of U-Start.

These are the winners:

There were a couple of medical engineering startups but the one that stole the judges’ hearts was CapeRay. The startup was born out of the University of Cape Town and presented a device that helps simplify and make breast cancer diagnoses more efficient. Without getting too technical, the Aceso device holds an edge over its competitors as it combines low-dose digital X-rats and 3D automated breast ultrasound.

wiGroup provides mobile transaction solutions. Its innovative point-of-sale platform is meant to offer retailers, banks and such a swift, secure and convenient method of transaction, via mobile phones. The product offers both merchants and application providers to be more agile in their approach to keep up with a fast paced mobile-oriented society.

If you haven’t heard of it before, based in Franschhoek, South Africa Mellowcabs manufactures, and operates, electric mini-cabs that provide public transport in cities. These yellow, tech-savvy cabs are meant to drive advertising as a main source of revenue instead of relying purely on fares.

Where Instagram lets you tweak your smartphone photos with different filters, Over focuses on the beauty of typography among other things. Already very popular, Over is a mobile app that enables people to overlay their digital images with arty text, and icons to help share more informative stories. With a broader focus on the booming smartphone industry, the startup is also building a marketplace and apps platform to promote and leverage the emerging ‘mobile creatives’ market. Watch this space.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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