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A new programme by energy drink company Red Bull aims to support five tech startups that seek to solve socially relevant problems within the urban, township and rural areas.
The Red Bull Basement residency programme, launched last month, will be based in Johannesburg and run for two months. Participants will be provided with funding, mentorship and access to a maker space.
“The main thing is to identify solutions that are able to solve socially relevant problems within the urban, township and rural areas through the use of technology while impacting their lives in a positive way,” said Mixo Ngoveni, the programme’s brand manager.
In a statement last week, Red Bull said it is looking to use the initiative to expand and grow the tech community by supporting the maker, hacker, and tech ecosystems all while guiding innovation and social growth.
The two-month long Red Bull Basement residency programme will run between 1 September and 31 October
The two-month long residency — which will run between 1 September and 31 October in Johannesburg — will provide five projects or early stage startups (of up to four team members each) with access to a state-of-the-art maker space and mentorship from experts in design, entrepreneurship and hardware.
Responding yesterday (10 July) to an email from Ventureburn, Ngoveni said as the residency programme is Red Bull’s first in South Africa, the aim “is not to do too much but to do things the proper way”.
‘Fully committed, highly invested’
The initiative marks the energy drink company’s first foray into South Africa’s tech startup scene. Prior to this, Red Bull has been running the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy which focuses on finding and developing social entrepreneurs in the country.
Although he declined to mention just how much Red Bull has invested in the programme citing that he was “not in a position to mention the amount”, Ngoveni said the company is “fully committed and highly invested in making sure that the residency is a success and the startups are well resourced for their projects”.
“Part of the investment will involve providing a maker space with the right tools and environment to allow the startups to work with ease. We will be getting five great mentors for the team,” he said, adding that Red Bull will also provide teams from out of Gauteng with accommodation.
Financial support, workshops
Red Bull’s latest initiative will focus on all tech sectors. “The main thing is to identify solutions that are able to solve socially relevant problems within the urban, township and rural areas through the use of technology while impacting their lives in a positive way,” said Ngoveni.
“The startups will get financial support to help them acquire some of the tools and equipment they will need to work on their projects,” he said.
In addition, programme participants will get access to workshops which will enable them to “learn while working on their projects”. Moreover, the residency will conclude with a demo, which Ngoveni said will be open to investors, companies, incubators and representatives from government and the banking sector “with the aim of identifying projects that they could further work with”.
Ngoveni said the intention of the residency programme “is not to leave the startups and their founders in the wild” and that Red Bull Basement will assist programme participants to become investor ready.
“We will have mentors with a business background assigned to each startup so they can help them positions themselves to be fund-able,” he explained.
Last month, Red Bull Basement held its first Hatch event in the country. These events, which will take place in Johannesburg, are info-sessions which aim to provide the public with information on the initiative as well as how to apply for the residency.
Do you have a project which is in the early production stage that you think Red Bull’s Residency programme could give wings? Check out the Red Bull Basement website for more information on how to apply and for details on the next Hatch event.
Featured image: Red Bull Basement brand manager Mixo Ngoveni at last month’s Red Bull Basement Hatch event in Johannesburg (Supplied)