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The Venture Network Big Bus Tour has come and gone, and while it only lasted for three days, there are big things to come from this initiative.
Founded by friends Abu Cassim and Wayne Berger, the programme was created in order to bridge the divide between the startup communities in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The plan is to connect startups, investors, and spotlighting players to the VC community. Another point to the tour was to connect with like-minded individuals and to learn from previous success and failures.
“Each ecosystem has a unique profile and set of strengths, through collaboration we can draw on the best of these and grow collectively,” says Cassim.
The programme wasn’t a hasty decision, as the pair had been thinking about it for a while.
“After 6 successful Johannesburg-based events and 4 start-ups sourcing funding, we considered a visit to the Cape Town and Stellenbosch innovation communities as the next logical step in Venture Network’s progression,” adds Berger.
The two founders reached out to their business networks, which included mailers, word of mouth, and the IE Business School. It was also placed as an event on the Silicon Cape website. This allowed them to advertise the programme to a range of individuals for this ‘virgin tour.’ The tour then consisted of 18 attendees with some from the UK, Belgium, Nigeria, and Australia.
Over the course of three days, the group visited a range of startup communities, co-working spaces, accelerators, investors, and entrepreneurs; giving the group an overview of the Cape.
“We tried to package a lot into three days, rushing between venues to make it on time for our next appointment. We had five visits on the first and second day, four on the last.”
Cassim says everywhere they went they were treated with hospitality. “We were made to feel welcome everywhere, half an hour meetings turned into two hours of story telling and healthy dialogue,” says Cassim.
The tour looks to be a success, with Cassim stating one of the investors on the tour is already in talks with a Cape Town-based startup, though didn’t specify which.
He also shared an extract of an email sent by one of the attendees.
My eyes were opened up to a whole new world. I had no idea that such a network of amazing people and places even existed.
The tour will be again later this year, but in the meantime, will look for more sponsors in order to subsidise costs and make it more affordable.
“We are in discussions with potential sponsors to host a start-up competition with the winners acquiring seats on the next Venture Bus,” concludes Berger.
This isn’t the first time the concept has been used. The Ampion VentureBus is an accelerator on wheels travelling throughout Africa, while there’s also a Venture Train in the works, having completed its beta run, but details on that are scarce.