UCT Upstarts Idea Auction aims to ‘Re-Educate Education’

UCT Upstarts

29 students have gone through a gruelling five-month journey to turn their ideas into viable business models. These ideas were, in turn, auctioned off at this year’s UCT Upstarts Idea Auction at the Labia Theatre in Cape Town.

This year’s theme, ‘Re-educate Education,’ revolved around students thinking of innovative ways to disrupt the education sector within South Africa.

Guests included UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price; the director of Bertha Centre for Social Innovation Francois Bonnici; the founding director of the Hasso Plattner d.school Richard Perez along with a representative from Standard Bank, among others.

“We believe our currency is opportunity,” said Gina Levy at this year’s UCT Upstarts Idea Auction.

Gina Levy, the founder of UCT Upstarts, opened the evening by making reference to Dr Seuss.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not,” she said while addressing this year’s participating students.

“We raised R97 050 in cash at the last count and just over R961 800 as value-in-kind,” Levy said in a press release. “We believe our currency is opportunity — that’s why Upstarts is creating businesses of the future now, ones that will challenge business as usual, influence new ways of thinking and improve the quality of thousands of people’s lives in SA and beyond.”

“Really great ideas come when people with different backgrounds, disciplines and cultures come together to make something happen. When this idea was brought to me — I thought this is exactly the right thing for UCT,” said Dr Price according to an excerpt from the Upstarts information pack.

“We are a research university, but research is also about figuring out how to do things differently and better — and that’s the innovation — taking ideas and seeing how they can change the world,” concluded Price.

The participating teams were as follows:


This initiative was created by Lebo Notoane, Bianca Hansen and Athenkosi Dyoli.

Feedback aims to tackle teachers’ lack of knowledge, helping to train them in the process. By completing an evaluation using their HTML app, teachers can then be provided with the necessary training material, workshops and courses in order to improve their weakest skill set. Successfully completing their sessions would earn teachers necessary points which would incentivise reward levels.


Dadewethu is founded by Thandeka Chehore and Jessica Diamond as well as Cassandra Da Cruz and Mihlali Dilima. They aim to tackle the lack of information/access to educational material and health services for female students on universities and high-schools.

The solution sees a website being created that offers relevant information for students. This site will help students access contraceptives offered for free at the UCT government clinic while also delivering information on operating hours.

They also sell and deliver pregnancy tests, sanitary products, condoms, and lubricants and have been working on an Automated Tampon Machine (ATM) which will be placed conveniently at universities for women to have access to necessary hygiene and sexual health products.

Plug ED

Established by Lindokuhle Shongwe, Lebo de Jaar, and Orinea Tshivhenga, Plug ED has tackled obstacles that keep children from school, such as gang violence and inadequate teaching.

Their solution was to create a rentable pod that students could connect to their TVs, helping their learning experience. Students would be able to rent the pods from their local community PlugEd ambassadors, which will either have a broadband connection or be pre-loaded with content sorted into grade and subject.

Pop Print

Started by Boitumelo Dikoko, Alexander Knemeyer, Nicholas Harrison and Mvelo Hlophe.

They’ve addressed the problem of language barriers which primary and high-school students face that could affect them later on in their academic life. Pop Print’s solution is to create relevant short stories and mental development resources which will be printed on POS receipt printers found at any retail store.

Their end goal, however, is to have their version of the printers placed within classrooms for ease of access. By partnering with organisations such as Book Dash, they’ll be able to source much-needed material and networks which can minimise the time required to generate content.


Lwazi was founded by Prince Nwadeyi, Nelsy Mtsweni, Michal Shushan, Calum Murphy, and Tshiamo Motsoane.

They aim to ‘democratise knowledge’ via what is effectively a marketplace for tutors. Via the marketplace, tutors can address their clients through live-streamed learning which can be achieved through the Eduroam WiFi feature at most universities and residences.

Lwazi also provides face-to-face engagement which could take place on campus or at any other preference to the student. Students can also register themselves on the platform as a tutor if they wish to offer their services.

Funda Fund

Started by Thapelo Nthite, Gomolemo Malao and Otshepahetse Seqebo, Funda Fund uses crowdfunding to help disadvantaged students.

The service sees a network of university tutoring organisations being able to select students who show the most promise and enter them into the Funda Fund. Students will have profiles created for them through Funda Fund and the initiative will work with local crowdfunding website Thunda Fund.

‘Funda Fridays’ will see the team going out to universities and schools and displaying potential candidates at stands, where students and lecturers could contribute to their chosen candidate using Snapscan or by paying online.


EnRoute was created by Wandile Matshiny, Nompumelelo Mtsweni and Kai Coetzee.

EnRoute have decided to expose kids to inspiring role models and career information through a concept known as ‘volunteaching’. Parents, companies and important community leaders, as well as entrepreneurs, will have the chance to pay it forward by imparting their knowledge and experiences to learners.

This will be achieved by having career days on Saturdays on a bus headed to two partnered companies as well as by bringing role models to kids during the week.

Uniform Exchange

Uniform Exchange was founded by Mduduzi Masilela, Tofumi Olagoke, Ella Alcock and Fred Ajusi.

Uniform Exchange has decided to address issues facing the high price of school uniforms. They’ve created a system for students to sell their old and unwanted uniforms to Uniform Exchange, who will then give those students a voucher to purchase newer clothes or uniforms at a discounted rate.

Uniforms or items with minor damage are sent to a group of community members who then repairs the items at R10 per item.

Featured image: Andrew Deacon via Flickr 



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