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Knowledge Crucible: Thembinkosi Semwayo

An academic develops a solution that improves information access

Juliet Pitman

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Thembinkosi Semwayo of Knowledge Cruciable

It was John Naisbitt who so succinctly summarised the challenge caused by the internet’s information overload. He described it as “drowning in information but starved of knowledge” and, when you think about it, that’s exactly the situation that the glut of information on the internet has brought about.

The problem is that there’s simply too much information to access in any meaningful way. Typing the words ‘business coaching’ into Google, for example, yields no fewer than 6,6 million results.

But the problem is not just confined to the internet. Businesses, particularly those that deal with vast quantities of information such as law firms, also battle with information overload and the challenge of gaining easy and meaningful access.

But now, thanks to Cape Town-based academic-turned-entrepreneur, there may be an easier way of managing information overload. Thembinkosi Semwayo is the CEO of Knowledge Crucible, a company that specialises in providing data modelling, business mapping and technological solutions to companies who need to access important information quickly and efficiently.

It’s an intricate, complex system but Semwayo highlights the key points: “We go into a company and conduct an analysis of what information is most important and relevant to them. Based on this analysis we identify specific key terms that pertain to that company and its business and then ‘tag’ these on their documents using something called electronic highlighting.

They can conduct a search of all their documents in a range of different formats, using these key terms.” But Knowledge Crucible’s solution goes a step further than ordinary search solutions. By cross-indexing the key terms, and making strategic use of synonyms as well as the key terms themselves, it is able to generate more refined search results that are contextualised within the business.

The concept developed out of Semwayo’s PhD research in knowledge engineering at the University of Cape Town. “I presented a paper on it in Spain during 2002 and many of the delegates there were from corporate companies.

They expressed interest in the commercialisation of the concept,” he explains. The company was formed when Semwayo presented the idea to the Cape Information Technology Initiative (CITI) which provided him with the grant necessary to get the enterprise off the ground.

“The grant meant we had access to office space, telephones, broadband internet and the like for a period of nine months. CITI covered 100% of these costs for the first three months, then 75%, and so on until the nine month period was up,” he explains.

The company also received assistance from Cape Venture Partners, a business acceleration, mentoring and training company for technology start-ups. “They gave us valuable entrepreneurship training and mentorship and helped us with financial and business management skills as part of our incubation programme. It was extremely useful.”.

Semwayo says the company’s biggest challenge has been getting the message about his solution out there and educating potential customers. “Initially we had a tough time explaining to customers how we could help their businesses but it has become easier as we’ve implemented the solution in various clients’ companies.

We’ve done work for the Southern African Development Committee, the Competition Commission and various government departments. They all have vast quantities of information they need to access quickly and once they realised how we could help them, word spread.

So we’ve grown fairly rapidly but thankfully we got some big contracts early on which means the company has carried itself.”Looking to the future, he’d like to see Knowledge Crucible’s solutions break into the SMB market.

“There is a world-wide trend towards making search of and access to information easier – doing so is becoming critical to businesses, including the small to medium ones. It’s a rapidly growing technology field and we’re right at the forefront,” he says. Contact: +27 21 409 7084, www.kcrucible.co.za

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton

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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.

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Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect

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It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.

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“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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