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From B2B recycling through to travel agents and elearning, last week’s Social Media Week Johannesburg saw five exciting tech startups go head-to-head for a chance to be crowned the ultimate winner of Ventureburn’s Startup Battle. While competition was extremely tough, student administrative startup Gradesmatch was eventually dubbed the winner and walked away with R25 000 sponsored by Ford Motors SA.
Apart from the cash prize, the winning company was also awarded a mentoring session with Sage Pastel Managing Director Steven Cohen, as well as some software packages from Sage.
Developed by Afri-Acts, Gradesmatch is a mobile system designed to enhance the way in which high school learners interact with higher learning institution and bursars in South Africa. In essence, it’s a service that digitises the process of calculating APS points — giving student feedback on the likelihood of acceptance to help high school learners prepare for tertiary education.
The startups each got five minutes to pitch to the judges after which they will be questioned in true Dragons’ Den style.
Asked by the judges whether or not it’s dangerous for an app to make those decisions and are whether there are any international competitors, the team responded by saying that “the beauty of Africa is we can pioneer solutions. We are working with universities to ensure that it isn’t dangerous.”
“We were so impressed with the pitches and the level of preparation by the startups. It was exciting the see the level of work that had gone into each solution and we look forward to the next Startup Battle,” says Ventureburn Managing Editor Michelle Atagana.
The company has secured its first commercial contract with one the largest tutoring companies in South Africa, Kumon, for a 6-month trial beginning in 2015. Gradesmatch was also recently nominated as one of the ICT semi-finalists for the Gauteng Accelerated Programme organised by The Innovation Hub Management Company.
Managing Director of Afri-Acts Rudzani Mulaudzi notes that apart from the win, the Startup Battle experience proved to be very beneficial. “The competition improved our pitching ability by forcing us to craft a concise and informative elevator pitch for our business, which I believe will aid us greatly going forward,” says Mulaudzi. He elaborates:
“Furthermore, the competition also provided us with a very good platform to network not only with other startups but distinguished judges, for example meeting one of Joburg’s most connected man (Founder of The Hookup Dinner Dr LifesGud) was a plus. We would recommend the competition to other startups next year.”