Digital All Stars is a series of articles which aims to celebrate the best of South African digital. The articles, which will appear on Memeburn and Ventureburn, recognise and celebrate South Africa’s best digital entrepreneurs, business people, advertisers, and media professionals among others.
In this piece we take a look at eight managers of corporates that startups should meet if they’re looking to pitch their app or web platform.
Here are 8 corporate managers that SA tech startups with apps and web platforms should meet
Follow the link beneath each for a more detailed interview with each corporate on what to look out for when looking to sell your idea to a big company.
Jayshree Naidoo (Standard Bank)
Jayshree Naidoo, the head of the Standard Bank Incubator, says the startups should understand the complexity of dealing with large corporations. Failing to do so could put a strain on their resources.
She says startups can improve the way they deal with corporates by creating a professional corporate profile. “If their solution is technologically driven they should have a platform that they could use to illustrate the offer and they should be in a position to issue a temporary licence or access to the platform to a grip of users.”
What then is the bank looking for from startups? “The bank is always looking for disruptive fintech solutions as well as digital products and services and non-traditional products including those that support the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and cryptocurrrency, among others.”
Shirley Gilbey (Barclays Africa)
Shirley Gilbey, the head of Rise and Co-creation at Barclays Africa Group, says startups looking to sell their good ideas to a corporate need to ensure that they can argue a clear business case with a proven solution and a demonstrable market.
“Every relationship should be transactional — they (startups) have a solution that we want to offer our customers. There must be value for both sides in the collaboration,” she points out.
The bank gets pitches from about 10 to 15 fintechs every month from across the globe, and themes vary, including AI, blockchain, payment innovation, alternative lending products, alternative savings products and process efficiency.
Mophethe Moletsane (MTN)
Mophethe Moletsane, who is MTN’s general manager of digital commercial management, says the digital ecosystem continues to evolve and is growing, and forms a key part of most corporate strategies.
Startups can assist in accelerating the development of the services and products, thereby creating new revenue streams for corporates, he says.
Moletsane has spent the past 17 months at MTN. “I am a computer engineer by training, and have 12 years’ experience in technology and management consulting.
He describes the next big trends for telecommunication companies as video and digital services partnerships (and here, fintech is already racing ahead).
In addition he says big data analytics is set to play a big role in such companies. “Telcos have large amounts of rich data and are required to store some sets for several years. A number of services can be built on this data, such as forensics, planning services (financial, urban development, retail), and so forth,” he adds.
Francois Dempers (Capitec)
Entrepreneurs should be ready to show their work and not just share their ideas, says Capitec Bank’s manager for innovation Francois Dempers.
“Do not oversell your product or service and get straight to business. Leave your business guy at home and bring your techie instead. We prefer authentic experiences right from the start of a relationship,” he advises.
He says tech startups can play a valuable role in accelerating South Africa towards a better and more inclusive future.
“While initially startups sought to disrupt corporates, we see this trend shifting to a mutually beneficial partnership and service provider (B2B) approach. This is partially due to corporates accelerating their innovation efforts, but also results from saturation of the available direct to consumer (B2C) opportunities,” says Dempers.
“Coming from startup roots ourselves, we have created a team of highly energetic cross-skilled individuals that live our mission and brand.
Dempers lists as the next big trends — artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and hyper localisation of technology to suit local things like language, speech, bandwidth, data restrictions, digital adoption and client expectations.
Chris Wood (Nedbank)
Chris Wood, Nedbank’s executive of emerging payments, strategy and regulation, says he takes a hardline on deciding which ideas to go with and which to turn down.
“My motto has definitely become ‘I choose what to say no to, long before I choose what to say yes to’. If we said yes to every idea, we’d have so many competing things going on that our customers would lose track of what services we actually provide,” says Wood.
Wood says when startups pitch their ideas, it’s always a good place to start to consider what else is out in the market that might be solving a similar problem. If there is, what is different about the solution they are proposing and how will it elevate the customer’s experience to the next level or allow them to do something they couldn’t do before.
“In essence, have they done their homework and thought about what their proposed solution will do for both the bank and the customer?” he asks.
Fatima Hassim (Vodacom)
Fatima Hassim, the managing executive for SME at Vodacom Business believes that entrepreneurs are going to play an ever greater role in the future of the country’s economy.
“We are seeing examples of this already: more and more startups are coming to pitch to Vodacom and we can see the incredible potential and talent out there. Startups bring agility and offer great partnership opportunities to corporates which can help us get to market more quickly. Startups offer incredible innovation and are quicker to respond to industry trends as they have an ear to the ground,” she says.
Hassim, who has a BComm finance degree, has been at Vodacom for 20 years and has been involved in various sections of the business — from finance, terminals, customer relationship management, business process management, marketing, product management and sales.
She says the biggest current trends in startups are the increasing use of digital tools such as apps, which can significantly enhance customer experience, and data and analytics.
Stanley Gabriel (Old Mutual)
Tech startups play a vital role in highlighting the urgency of the need for corporates to focus on remaining relevant to their customers and either disrupt themselves or prepare to be disrupted, says Stanley Gabriel, head of innovation at Old Mutual Personal Finance.
Gabriel says in the face of the increasing pace of technology, corporates have an increasing appetite for partnering with startups to increase the scope of offerings to customers and improve efficiency in the insurance value chain.
Gabriel took up his role as head of innovation at the insurance company in June last year after returning to South Africa from Old Mutual West Africa, where he oversaw strategy, digital and bancassurance.
“It’s been an awesome journey setting up and managing an operating model that supports the creation of new ideas and transforms these ideas into innovative solutions in a way that changes the culture of the organisation from inside,” says the BSc graduate from UCT, who also holds diploma in actuarial techniques from the Institute of Actuaries (UK).
Gabriel is a self proclaimed wine guru, tennis fanatic, a beginner golfer and a budding linguist. “I enjoy fine dining experiences and also enjoy hosting dinners – I experiment with influences and flavours from around the world. Finally, I am an ardent traveller who is willing to explore unknown and less ventured locations, especially on the African continent,” he says.
Liz Hillock (Woolworths)
Woolworths’ head of online Liz Hillock says getting the retailer’s attention is not just about how strong your idea or solution is, but comes down to the potential of the person or the team that is involved.
“It’s not just an idea or a solution that may interest us, but the potential of the person or the team that is involved,” she adds.
She says the retailer is interested in products that make its customers lives easier, improve customer experience, are responsible and sustainable, and offer an exciting and relevant shopping experience — be that in-store or online.
She says startups should try to outline how their product or idea will help customers, the environment, or the retailer’s staff. “There are a lot of great ideas out there, however what’s more difficult is finding something that offers a true benefit to customers, that drives value, utility or repeat usage,” she says.