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Silicon Cape: Vinny Lingham & Justin Stanford

Vinny Lingham, founder and CEO of Yola, and Justin Stanford, founder and CEO of 4DI Capital, have a vision of a Western Cape ecosystem that brings together local and foreign investors, the brightest technical talent and the most promising entrepreneurs.

Juliet Pitman

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Justin Stanford

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille calledit “an historical event”. Dr Mamphela Ramphele, Chair of the TechnologyInnovation Agency, believed that the day would be “forever marked in thecalendar of South Africa’s innovation as ‘the beginning’.” 

They were addressing over 500 people atthe launch of the Silicon Cape Initiative. The brainchild of two of SouthAfrica’s brightest young entrepreneurial stars, it seeks to position Cape Townas Africa’s hub for venture capital, entrepreneurship and world-class IP. Silicon Cape is not owned by anyone orcontrolled by any single entity. “It is as much about a place as it is aboutthe people in it – it’s a living community. We wanted to start a conversation,to plant a seed in people’s minds about the idea and to position the WesternCape as the emerging Silicon Valley of Africa,” says Lingham. Cape Town has a lot of the naturalingredients that have made Silicon Valley what it is today – beautiful naturalscenery, great universities, personality and culture, a vibrant entrepreneurialcommunity, and a willingness from local government to support entrepreneurs.

Lingham and Stanford have a knack formaking things happen and attracting the right kind of attention. In addition toZille and Ramphele, the likes of Matthew Buckland, Dr Johan Rupert and LaurenceOlivier – all keynote speakers at the launch event – have put their weightbehind the Silicon Cape Initiative. Less than a month after launchingLingham and Stanford met with the Minister of Science and Technology NalediPandor. “She is keen to find out how she can engage with her colleagues innational government to help us in first rapidly unblocking the regulatory obstaclesthat make it hard for the ecosystem to develop, and then looking at possibleincentives to further grow it. This is very encouraging,” writes Stanford aboutthe meeting. They are realistic about the manyobstacles that the establishment of such an ecosystem presents, including lackof access to venture capital and angel investor funding, sub-standard bandwidthavailability and legislation that hinders the development of start-ups.

But they believe solving these problemsis critical, not only for the development of the Silicon Cape Initiative, butfor the country’s global competitiveness. “If we don’t become exporters of IP,we will become exporters of talent,” says Stanford. He and Lingham aredetermined to prevent that from happening, and to place the Cape on the globalentrepreneurial map. If the success they have achieved individually inlaunching global businesses is anything to go by, they have the vision, thecontacts, the drive and the energy to make it happen. 

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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