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FSAT Labs: These 16 start-ups made the cut

Lawyered Up founder Serisha Barrat, Oneway Connect founder Sine Shabalala, and Aselukhanyo founder Mamkhhele Msongelwa. Their start-ups are among the lucky 16 selected for the tenth cohort of the FSAT Labs incubator. Photos: Supplied
Lawyered Up founder Serisha Barrat, Oneway Connect founder Sine Shabalala, and Aselukhanyo founder Mamkhhele Msongelwa. Their start-ups are among the lucky 16 selected for the tenth cohort of the FSAT Labs incubator. Photos: Supplied

South Africa’s FSAT Labs incubator has announced the selection of 16 start-ups for its tenth cohort, with a focus on empowering women and climate-tech entrepreneurs. One-third of the founders are women, reflecting growth in narrowing the gender divide in the tech industry.

The FSAT Labs cohort will go through a six-month incubation programme starting in April and ending in October.

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FSAT Labs is a Cape Town-based incubator, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has gone online and expanded its reach to other parts of the country that have less access to technology incubators in their metros. Thus, the season 10 cohort consists of two start-ups from KwaZulu-Natal, nine from Gauteng and five from the Western Cape.

The renowned incubator received a total of 15 applications from women founders, including some of South Africa’s leading business women who have established successful careers and businesses. It selected six start-ups with women founders as their leads and two other start-ups with women co-founders, bringing a total of eight women tech founders who will be part of the 2023 incubation cohort.

These women founders include Giunevere Thomas, Lebogang Letsoalo, Serisha Barrat, Sophia Campello Beckwith, Sine Shabalala, Nonkululeko Nkabinde-Taderera, and Naum Modiba, while Arable Grow also has a leading women horticulturist, Engela Smit, leading the management of their farms.

As climate-tech rises as a technology sector of high impact and investment, so does agritech and the need to feed the nation. With high levels of drought experienced across South Africa in the last decade, social impact entrepreneurs have been testing new methods and technologies of sustainable farming to solve some of the most pressing problems of food security in an increasingly volatile climate.

Thus, it is no surprise that FSAT Labs got a number of climate-based agritech start-ups applying for its season 10 cohort, with most of them already fully operational with clients and revenue. The climate-based tech companies selected into the cohort are Arable Grow, Bioage, the Urban Farmer, and Aselukhanyo.

The FSAT Labs season 10 cohort of founders has 26 founders under the age of 35, with the youngest being 21 and the oldest founder being 40.

Six of the founders are still busy with their tertiary studies while eight have recently graduated from their studies in the last couple of years.

With a large percentage of the founders being under the ages of 28 and who have already accomplished accolades as entrepreneurs and become leaders in their fields, this is an experienced cohort who have revived in their journeys to start a tech business and grow it.

FSAT Labs season 10 Cohort is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation of South Africa’s youth, especially women and climate-tech  entrepreneurs. By providing support and resources to these start-ups, it is helping to create a vibrant and sustainable tech ecosystem.

Women-founded start-ups

Sorte Incorporation, founded by Guinevere Thomas, redefined itself in 2019 as a MarTech solution company using marketing technology tools to improve social media campaigns, lead generation, and sales. The company uses AI to provide innovative and marketing intelligence to its clients and increase their business revenue. Thomas is a leader in her field with a MBA, BCOM, and IMM, and has 20 years of experience in the corporate marketing industry.

Sincpoint, founded by Lebogang Letsoalo, is a 100% women black-owned company aimed at creating sustainable solutions in the supply chain. The company optimises and develops procurement, logistics, information systems, distribution, and organisational strategies to reduce delivery lead-time and cost. Letsoalo has 18 years of experience in different sectors of the business, including the energy, chemicals, and mining industry.

Lawyered Up, founded by Serisha Barrat, is a legal consultancy and digital platform that provides affordable legal services to start-ups, SMMEs, and township businesses. The platform includes a lawyer directory and marketplace, payment plan options, and SAAS, making it easy for businesses to get access to important legal documents and legal professionals. Barrat is an active serial entrepreneur and women tech star in the tech industry, representing women entrepreneurs and tech founders in various organisations.

HourlyRate, founded by Sophia Campello Beckwith and Ryan Byrne, is an AI-powered dashboard for freelancers that helps them optimise their hourly rate, stay competitive, connected, and outsmart the platforms. The company builds a rate maximiser, financial planner, and job board to help freelancers find the best job opportunities. The product is a monthly subscription that uses AI to connect the best candidates to the right jobs. Beckwith is also the co-founder of 2099, a technology and innovation company that designs, builds, and scales high-impact products.

Oneway Connect, founded by Sine Shabalala, is an innovative job matching and recruitment management software designed to streamline the job seeking and hiring process. The platform assesses candidates based on their capabilities and characteristics, using integrated activities and personality assessments to ensure that companies hire not only qualified and competent candidates but also those with the right soft skills and fit for company culture. Oneway Connect aims to provide a hiring process that is fair, transparent, and effective, promoting diversity and inclusivity in the workforce.

Troli is a one-stop app that allows customers to generate their shopping list, pull through the cheapest specials on offer, and indicate the optimum price possible for their trolley. Nonkululeko Nkabinde-Taderera and Alexandros Taderera are the co-founders. Nkabinde-Taderera has had experience as a real estate investment analyst, investment analyst for asset management companies as well as working as COO for SME beverage producer in Gauteng. Taderera is a business consultant for the Nalo Group who provide touchless door technology for retailers and is the software developer for Troli.

Arable empowers local farmers with modular containerised farms to grow and sell fresh produce directly in their communities. Photo: Supplied

Climate-based agritech start-ups

Arable is an agritech start-up that designs vertical farms in the Western Cape using data-driven horticulture to grow crops using 90-95% less land and water than traditional farming. They have two container farms that supply cost-competitive, ultra-premium produce to retail stores and restaurants in the Winelands and City Bowl areas. Their mission is to reduce food insecurity by making vertical farming more accessible to everyone.

Biological Agricultural Era (Bioage) is a 100% black-owned start-up that provides agricultural solutions for commercial, urban and subsistence farmers. It is a scientifically driven company that aims to address food insecurity through the integration of innovation into the agricultural sector of South Africa.

Aselukhanyo is an aggregation start-up that focuses on smallholder farmers utilising market access and logistics enablement as services to farmers in need of both. The company also provides a middle man service connecting smallholder farmers to the city through a supply chain model.

The Urban Farmer creates a space that transports consumers straight to the source of their food so that they can feel more connected with what they eat. The food offering is organic, seasonal, and as fresh as if you picked it from your own garden.

FSAT Labs youth-based tech entrepreneurs

Lead Tech is a lead generation marketplace for events and ticketing that integrates social media, event management, and ticketing together to assist events in marketing and booking out all their events.

Gamers Territory is a technology hub that advocates for gaming in Africa. The gaming start-up provides an electrifying video gaming experience in their mobile gaming facilities while making education fun and easy to learn through educational gaming applications.

Cartshare provides an online price comparison platform for multi-category grocery products. The platform allows users to check the prices of products like fruits and vegetables, bakery, milk, eggs & dairy products, non-alcoholic items, wines, beer, and spirits, and snacks and confectionery in various stores. Photo: Supplied

CartShare helps FMCG brands increase sales and improve consumer loyalty by collecting and analysing grocery receipt data. The company also provides free online shopping tools to help users save more money. CartShare’s platform allows users to compare prices of various products across multiple stores. The company was founded in 2022 by Kyle Fortuin and Aidan Josias.

Fatebonds is a social network for saving money that encourages individuals to save regularly and reach their financial goals faster. The platform offers members opportunities to earn interest on their savings and access financial education and resources. Fatebonds was founded in 2023 by Iviwe Maseti and Naum Modiba, who aim to connect people financially and reach 1 billion people worldwide within five years. The start-up will be the first neo-banking app in South Africa with a network effect on its platform.

PasswordKid provides teachers with an app that allows them to scan IDs and verify that no child goes home with someone unauthorised to pick them up. The company was founded by Ntokozo Hlomuka and Keletso Lekwakwe. Hlomuka, the CTO, has an MBA and a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology, with experience in IT risk and security management. Lekwakwe, the CEO, is a tech entrepreneur with five years of experience through various tech startups and a graduate of Richfield’s Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.

Navg8 is a start-up that specialises in providing cost-effective innovative road safety driving technology solutions and services. The platform aims to improve road safety by building products and solutions that are needed in the 21st Century for road users. The founder and CEO, Mogomotsi Boitse, brings extensive experience in business and managing partner of a privately owned company YDIDI, which facilitated youth development through dissemination of information through partnership with media.

Continental start-up

Heny is a booking platform and a curated tour marketplace for adventures across Africa. The platform provides a listing of experiences from local curators to give their customers a taste of the rich African culture. They enable customers to discover, book, and plan interesting activities while providing jobs and extra revenue to their curators. The co-founders, Eugene Adortsu and Philip Darlington Afflu, bring extensive experience in software development engineering and entrepreneurship, with plans to expand their business and footprint within South Africa and East Africa.

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