‘Startup guides on Cape Town, Joburg detail exciting story of SA’s tech entrepreneurs’ [Q&A]


South Africa has an exciting story to tell as its tech entrepreneurs move to help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, says publisher and entrepreneur Sissel Hansen.

“In the past, startups could get away with developing a product without considering the broader impact it might have. What made telling their stories so attractive to us is the fact that South Africa’s ecosystems are challenging this notion,” says Hansen (pictured above).

Danish born Hansen, who is the founder of Startup Guide, was responding to questions from Ventureburn ahead of the launch by her publishing company of two guides on South African cities — Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Startup Guide will launch the Cape Town tomorrow (4 September) at Workshop17 in the Waterfront (see this story), while the Johannesburg launch party will take place next Monday (9 September) at the Tshimologong Precinct (see this story).

SA tech startups are challenging the idea that one can develop a product without considering the broader social impact, says Startup Guide founder Sissel Hansen

Startup Guide has produced guides in different cities across Europe, Asia and the Middle East — including Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Tel Aviv and Singapore.

In an emailed interview with Ventureburn she details why the publishing company, which she founded in 2014, decided to include Cape Town and Johannesburg among the many guidebooks on startup ecosystems its already published.

What made you decide to bring the Startup Guide series to South Africa?

It has always been our mission to empower people to start their own business, regardless of where they are in the world. South Africa boasts proven ecosystems poised to make an impact on a global scale for years to come, so it was a bit of a no-brainer for us.

Our global partnership with SAP has enabled us to explore new startup ecosystems across the globe, particularly those incorporating the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as part of their business strategy. Cape Town and Johannesburg both stood out as impact innovation hubs.

How did you go about deciding who deserved to be featured in the guides?

We want our guides to be as accurate and trustworthy as possible, so we always team up with a community partner that knows the startup scene well.

We enlist the help of locals, who nominate startups, entrepreneurs, programmes, schools, investors and co-working spaces they think should be featured in the book.

From this list, we work with a local advisory board — selected by our community partner and featuring key figures in the startup scene — to narrow down our final selection, always striving to maintain a balanced representation of industries, backgrounds and startup stories.

What books do you plan on launching this year aside from Cape Town and Johannesburg?

This is a big year for us. Following the launch of our books in South Africa, we’ll be unveiling guides in Cairo and Los Angeles, before launching in Bangkok and Tokyo.

We’ll be back in Europe soon enough, though — books on Amsterdam, Barcelona and Brussels are all in the works.

Do you have any other products besides the guidebooks?

The guidebooks are certainly our core product. While we still believe in the power of physical products, we were also eager to expand into the digital space and explore new formats for our content.

Recently we launched startupguide.com, which features articles exploring different startup scenes, interviews with pioneering founders and helpful resources for aspiring entrepreneurs. We also have three physical stores in Berlin, Lisbon and Copenhagen, which double as offices for our team.

Which cities do you think tech startups and digital nomads should keep on their radar?

In our experience, the cities with the most to offer are those devoted to tackling the world’s most pressing issues.

In the past, startups could get away with developing a product without considering the broader impact it might have. What made telling their stories so attractive to us is the fact that South Africa’s ecosystems are challenging this notion.

In this new age of entrepreneurship, it’s impossible to ignore issues of sustainability and social responsibility, which is why we’re committed to championing the work of impact startups and entrepreneurs going forward.

We’re working on a regional guidebook, Startup Guide Switzerland, which exclusively highlights the efforts of key
impact-focused players in ecosystems throughout the country.

What can we expect from the first releases about South Africa?

Both books are packed with helpful insight, insightful interviews and essential tools for aspiring entrepreneurs in South Africa.

Cape Town is one of the most active ecosystems for investment on the continent, and also boasts an international talent pool, relatively low cost of living and a respected network of investors eager to support early-stage entrepreneurs.

Johannesburg is poised to become one of Africa’s most disruptive ecosystems, and tech communities are already beginning to sprout up all over the city.

Both cities have a lot to offer, and we’re excited to see what the next generation of founders can achieve. Our hope is that we’re able to help them make the most out of the local resources, programmes and network available to them.

For more details on the Cape Town launch see the event’s Facebook page or Eventbrite page

For details on the Johannesburg launch see the event’s Facebook page or Eventbrite page.

Ventureburn is the official South African media partner of Startup Guide.

Read more: New guidebook to be launched on Joburg’s startup scene
Read more: New guidebook on Cape Town’s startup scene to launch
Read more: Startup Guide launches call for nominations for Joburg edition
Read more: Startup Guide calls on those in Cape Town to be part of new guide

Featured image: Startup Guide founder Sissel Hansen (Supplied)



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