The Guardian shines spotlight on Cape Town’s startup scene

Cape Town

Cape Town’s startup scene is gaining loads of attention, as the sector quickly makes a name for itself.

Don’t believe me? Then you should check out The Guardian’s report, titled “How Cape Town’s tech entrepreneurs are solving problems for small business”.

The article initially focuses on the Silicon Cape initiative, calling it “central to Cape Town’s technology startup scene”.

“After starting my first company in Cape Town, I realised what a lonely place it was for founders. When I moved to Silicon Valley, I quickly discovered what an interconnected place it was and wanted to create the same type of environment back in South Africa,” Silicon Cape co-founder Vinny Lingham told the publication.

Two startups in focus

The report also saw two prominent Cape Town-based startups being profiled, in the form of job-seeking app Mintor and payment service Yoco.

Mintor effectively allows job-seekers and employers to side-step recruitment agencies. The service lets job-seekers with a high school diploma or better create a profile – Mintor then reviews the profile and delivers feedback to the candidate.

Once you’ve created a profile, recruiters are matched with ideal candidates via the service’s algorithm. And with 2000 profiles and 600 businesses on the service, Mintor’s team thinks they’ve truly solved a problem.

“We really see the tertiary educated segment of unemployed youth as the skilled labour market that’s so important to this country, to help small businesses grow, to grow the economy, to create more jobs and then pull more people into those jobs,” co-founder Leànne Viviers told The Guardian.

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Yoco co-founder Katlego Maphai said that Cape Town didn’t have as many large corporations as Johannesburg, resulting in many Capetonians working for a small business or starting their own one.

“It’s an attractive place to be an entrepreneur. It’s relatively inexpensive to be here and salary expectations are pretty moderate,” he elaborated.

Yoco tackles the challenge of portable payment solutions, with Maphai saying that few small businesses supported card payments. This was an even more pressing issue when he noted that the South African government issues social grants on prepaid cards.

A question of funding and networking?

Maphai explained that 80% of his financial backing came from outside South Africa, suggesting that Capetonian investors were often after “proven business ideas such as franchises”.

In saying so, Maphai added that there were seed funding options in the city, such as accelerators. The publication also noted that government funding was an option, such as the National Empowerment Fund.

One of the latter beneficiaries was Siyabonga Tiwana and his Skywalk Innovations business, creating a property management app for landlords and a bin-tracking service for city businesses.

The Guardian also touched on networking opportunities in Cape Town, specifically pointing out StartupGrind, groups on and (yes) coworking spaces.

“The city also has coworking spaces such as Spin Street House, Workshop 17 at the city’s Waterfront and a WiFi lounge on top of Table Mountain where, on Table Top Tuesday, entrepreneurs can meet and work each Tuesday for free — on Table Mountain,” the article noted.

Lingham however lamented that while there were “amazing people” in the Cape Town startup scene, there is a need to find or create an “anchor industry” to rally around.

Hadlee Simons


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