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This week Mapped in Cape Town– an initiative aimed at mapping the startup ecosystem in Cape Town — went live. The map is not a work of a cartographer but that of Cape Town-based tech entrepreneur Rowan Polovin.
As you can imagine, the website is a map, falling within the traditional descriptions of what a map ought to be but instead of hospitals, schools, roads, it shows the position of startups, investors, co-working and Wi-Fi hotspots within the city. It also contains a brief description about the startups listed. Listings are free of charge.
Explaining the concept, Polovin tells Ventureburn that inspiration came from not having a snapshot of the Mother City’s thriving startup ecosystem:
I came up with the idea for Mapped in Cape Town a few months ago, when I realised that the amazing startup ecosystem that exists in Cape Town should be mapped out. If you’re a startup looking for a co-founder, a funder, an incubator, a coworking space, new employees, or even a Wi-Fi zone, you should be able to find it all on one map. Likewise you should be able to find other companies that you can collaborate with.
Polovin is stretched between too many jobs and although creating the map was a challenge, he was determined to make it work. And now, only a few days after going live, it would appear that the hours of hard work have paid off. Since going live on Monday, Polovin has received tons of emails and tweets about Mapped in Cape Town and received 30 new listings since then.
There has been an impressive number of startups sprouting up in Cape Town like mushrooms in wetlands. Many, for various reasons, will fail and some will be successful. Going forward, it’s important for startups to not only encourage collaboration but be aware of what’s out there. Mapped in Cape Town is not just a space for startups to meet others but it also makes light of the daunting task startups often have of meeting potential investors by bringing all of together in one space.
Polovin is positive about the website and the future of startups in Cape Town: “I think that the startup culture in Cape Town is developing rapidly, along with a startup ‘mindset’, and world-class products are being developed. One area that is still lagging is the availability of early-stage funding for new startups,” he says.
Polovin has a long history of being involved in startups. In fact at age 10, he built and sold educational software to his school. And has since then been involved in launching other startups including MyVideo, a direct competitor to YouTube. At the moment, aside from Mapped in Cape Town, Polovin is the founder and CEO of a startup in the finance industry.
“At this point the site doesn’t have a revenue model, but I’m actively talking with potential strategic partners who have a mutual interest in supporting the startup ecosystem,” he adds.
For now the map covers Cape Town but before the end of the year Rowan says it will launch in Johannesburg and thereafter look elsewhere.