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10 Of The Best South African Seed Stage Start-ups Compete At The Seedstars Summit

On 30th June, 10 of South Africa’s best seed stage start-ups will compete to represent the country at the Seedstars Summit and win up to USD 1 million in equity investment.

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Seedstars World, the global seed-stage start-up competition for emerging markets and fast-growing start-up ecosystems has brought its pre-selection rounds to an end.

In partnership with Standard Bank, Seedstars World hosted the pre-selections in Cape Town, Durban and Soweto and is inviting the top 3 start-ups from each city to compete at the grand finale, which will be hosted at the Standard Bank Incubator in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

South Africa was previously represented by Giraffe, who was crowned the “Seedstars World Global Winner 2015” for their innovative solution to reduce unemployment in emerging markets.

Related: GrowthHub To Help Entrepreneurs Help Themselves

“The award has given us massive exposure, which is something we really need, and there are a lot of investors and potential partners contacting us in order to collaborate. But this award is not only affecting Giraffe, it’s also putting South Africa on the map.” says Shafin Anwarsha, co-founder of Giraffe.

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The top start-ups to advance to the grand final are:

  • Crew Pencil: An online crew booking and diary service for the film industry that allows diary, bookings and invoicing all in one.
  • Pargo: A convenient logistics solution that lets customers collect and return their parcels at a local store when it suits them best.
  • WumDrop: It allows people to pick up and drop off anything with the click of a button.
  • Guardian Angel Safety Solution: A GPS tracking product that offers an affordable personal safety solution for children, adults, elderly, and even pets.
  • You, Baby and I: An online platform that allows moms to experience brands by matching them to location and interests.
  • Vitls: The start-up building a revolutionary wearable medical device for homes and hospitals, allowing vitals to be monitored continuously and undisturbed from anywhere.
  • Sortd: A communication-centric organiser that transforms email and instant messaging into a set of organised to-do lists.
  • UmoyAir Communications: A provider of free calls from mobile phones to any number without airtime or data.
  • Riovic: A micro-insurer that provides digital and P2P insurance backed by crowdfunding.

In addition, Seedstars World has decided to introduce a wildcard, and will invite 1 additional start-up to compete in Johannesburg.

Seedstars World is closely working with Standard Bank, in order to deliver the best possible event and to provide local entrepreneurs with this opportunity.

“We are proud to be the country sponsor of Seedstars South Africa. This year we were able to take the Seedstars competition to three provinces, Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. The Standard Bank Incubator team has adjudicated in all of the regional finals and we are looking forward to presenting the top 10 start-ups to the Finals on the 30th June at the flagship Standard Bank Business Incubator situated in Rosebank. Last year’s SA winner Giraffe Jobs proudly won Seedstars Global in Geneva earlier this year and we are hoping this year SA is able to produce another global contender. This competition highlights the amazing talent we have not just in SA but on the continent and we will continue to grow and nurture entrepreneurs through our incubators.” says Jayshree Naidoo, head at Standard Bank Incubator.

Related: Attention Black Entrepreneurs: Start-Up Funding From Government Grants & Funds

“South Africa has world class entrepreneurial talent, and this was proven last year by Giraffe who won at the global summit in 2015. Our priority for 2016 is to cast the net even wider and give the opportunity to the whole country to participate and become part of a global journey”, says Marcello Schermer, Regional Manager for Africa at Seedstars World.

The startups will pitch in front of a jury that consist of Jayshree Naidoo, Head of Incubator at Standard Bank, Polo Radebe, Chief Executive Officer at IDF, Ravi Naidoo, Executive Director for Economic Development & Tourism at City of Johannesburg, Charmaine Padayachy Principal at Omidyar Network, Fritz Milosevic, Managing Partner at Dotadvisors and Marcello Schermer Regional Manager for Africa at Seedstars World.

In order to provide local entrepreneurs with this opportunity and aiming to deliver the best possible event, Seedstars World is also closely working with Entrepreneur Traction, who is representing the initiative throughout the year as an ambassador.

“We have really enjoyed working with the Seedstars team in sourcing and helping mentor some of South Africa’s best startup talent for the second year running. Speaking on behalf of our ecosystem, we believe that aligning with a global initiative such as Seedstars will definitely help to drive global market access for local start-ups.” says Dean Cannell, Co-Founder of Entrepreneur Traction.

Further support for the finals in Johannesburg is provided by partners Omidyar Network, Payfast, Glocell, Red Bull, Dot Advisors, and Duo Marketing. In addition Seedstars World has partnered with TRECC to bring the “Transforming Education Prize” which will award the best startup in the education space from around the world with a prize of over USD 50,000.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Surge In South Africans Swopping Their Cars For Bitcoin

The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has experienced a seemingly interminable rise. Early adopters have experience lottery-sized pay-outs on minor investments as the currency exploded in value in 2017.

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The cryptocurrency Bitcoin has experienced a seemingly interminable rise. Early adopters have experience lottery-sized pay-outs on minor investments as the currency exploded in value in 2017.

As South Africans are itching to get their hands on the digital currency, there’s been an increase in swops and bitcoin-only sales on Gumtree.co.za, says Claire Cobbledick, Head of Core at Gumtree. “This is particularly true for high-value items like cars, bikes and boats. Many sellers are willing to take a gamble with their assets in hopes of a large pay-out.”

This is on trend with other marketplaces. In the United States a McLaren 720S was put up for sale in exchange for 25 bitcoin, a theoretical value of $425,000.

Related: 11 Things You Need To Know About Bitcoin

While Gumtree does not allow for the sale of bitcoin miners or services, Cobbledick says that customers can exchange goods for bitcoin on the site, but should be fully aware of the risks. “Bitcoin is a volatile currency, so while you could easily see a 50% increase in your investment, you could just as easily end up with nothing. It’s up to the seller to decide if they are willing and able to take a gamble.”

Some cars currently up for sale in exchange for bitcoin includes a Land Rover Defender, BMW X5 and a rare 1970 Mercury Cougar V8.

“There are also a few other sellers accepting bitcoin in exchange for Kruger Rands,” says Cobbledick. “Perhaps proving that gold as a store of value is falling out of vogue.”

But the most unusual swop would have to go to an entrepreneurial seller who is offering carnivorous plants in exchange for the cryptocurrency.

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Zando Sold 80 Items A Minute During Black Friday – By Doing This

Black Friday has brought immense success for numerous local online retailers – reflecting the potential of e-commerce in South Africa. Why not learn from Zando’s success in 2017 to ensure your success during the 2018 Black Friday sales season?

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For South African e-retailers, Black Friday is a big sales event. But you need to ensure you’re prepared for the web traffic and that your e-commerce store can handle the logistics of thousands of orders.

zando-sascha-breussAccording to Zando, they experience 100% up-time during Black Friday and less than a week after the season sales event, 95% of customer orders have already been shipped.

To help fellow e-tailers perform better next year, Zando’s CEO, Sascha Breuss answers some key questions about the company’s preparations and learnings around Black Friday:

1. How did you encourage greater sales on Black Friday?

Over the last few years Black Friday has developed a following in South Africa, so we benefitted from the existing hype around it. We didn’t focus too much on upfront marketing, but put our energy into flawless execution and of course great deals for the customers.

Related: The Evolution Of Retail: From Corner Store To Artificial Intelligence

2. How much planning went into ensuring your store platform ran at optimum?

The real ‘hot phase’ started with the first day of November when our IT department went into a ‘feature freeze’ and we focused 100% on site-stability and scalability.

We went through some intense testing of our site with loads up to 15 times the average daily amount of visitors. So, when the actual day came, we were confident in our systems.

3. How were you able to successfully co-ordinate logistics during Black Friday?

Early preparation and experience from past years have been the key to success. We increased our head count in both Warehouse and Customer Service well in advance so that we could rely on well-trained and experienced colleagues come Black Friday.

4. How did you ensure a seamless experience between your website and your app?

We know that our customers are browsing Zando on all platforms, desktop, mobile and app so we implemented some handy features to make the transition between each platform easier. For example, shared baskets and wish lists are now a feature. Some of the deals however have been app-only and sometimes we reward our app users with early access to shop the best deals. So it is definitely worth it to download our app.

Related: How SA’s Online Retailers Can Cash In On Black Friday Fever

5. How did you scale your entire operation for a single event?

This is easy to summarise in one word – TEAMWORK. The Zando staff did an amazing job and were the backbone of our success. Not only did they put the required extra hours in and worked hard until the job was done, but they also showed real team-spirit. When you called our Customer Service during Black Friday it’s very possible that you spoke to someone in our HR, Social Media or Legal team who helped out answering calls.

6. How did your marketing campaign affect traffic on your platforms?

The most surprising element was probably the high volume of traffic that we saw during the night. Visits started to increase every minute before midnight and during the first two hours of the day we saw peaks that were higher than on our strongest week day. This traffic never dropped with a lot of orders being placed between 2am and 3am on Black Friday.

7. How did your technology systems handle the influx of shopper traffic?

In the build up to Black Friday we added additional server capacity and changed the way we handled the flow of traffic. This made us very flexible to switch on additional capacity wherever required. So it was a combination of intensive preparation, close monitoring and ultimately very little sleep for a couple of days to ensure we monitored our system health 24 hours a day.

8. What was your sales strategy?

For us everything that had a discount of 40%-80%, and was still a relevant and recent look, qualified for Black Friday 2017. Once these criteria were fulfilled we made sure that we had sufficient stock available – in some cases the demand was so high that we brought on additional stock from our suppliers during the Black Friday weekend.

Related: 5 Last-Minute Tips For Small Retailers To Boost Black Friday Sales

9. What were your biggest learnings?

We have been very successful in our approach to remain true to the idea of Black Friday – offering great deals on relevant product and not outdated clearance ranges. The customer is very educated and will identify a good deal, and we have seen consumers’ negative comments on stores who used Black Friday solely as a warehouse clearance opportunity.

10. What surprised you about Zando’s success during Black Friday?

Thanks to extensive preparation we have been able to achieve an uptime of 100% for the full month of November. We also kept the deliveries and returns 100% free regardless of discount or basket size. It seems like our customers appreciated this approach and we have actually seen very positive sales numbers after Black Friday while we expected a drop. I believe the full focus and investment on the Customer Experience has worked for us.

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Team Resolutions: 11 Tips To Uncover Passion And Potential In New Hires

If there’s one resolution HR departments should make this new year, it should be to transform the onboarding experience for new hires.

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If there’s one resolution HR departments should make this new year, it should be to transform the onboarding experience for new hires says Michelle Seko, Talent Acquisition Manger at Sage Africa & Middle East.

The importance of a good candidate experience cannot be underestimated. Research has shown that 88% of job applicants are more likely to buy from a company if they’ve had a positive experience when applying for work there. Research has also shown that candidates talk about their experiences with a company, regardless of whether they got the job. Some candidates would even refer a friend to the company and others will re-apply for a future role, if the experience was a good one.

Research also found that:

Related: Why You Should (Seriously) Stop Hiring People

Win-win

Businesses enter into a relationship with a new hire the moment they sign on the dotted line. And, as with any relationship, it will only flourish if built on trust, respect and a commitment to self-improvement.

When you set new hires up for personal success, the outcomes naturally feed into your business’ success, which means you both win.

Here are a few ideas to get the most out of your new hires:

Make them feel welcome

Introduce them to the people they’ll be working with as soon as possible so that they immediately feel part of a team. At Sage, we partner new hires with a buddy, or Sage Ambassador, who helps them settle in and meet new people, contributing to the positive on-boarding experience.

Focus on the benefits

Compelling benefits not only attract the best candidates but also boost loyalty and job satisfaction. People are motivated by different things: one person might value flexi-time while another could place more importance on growth opportunities or bonuses. Focus on the benefits that align with the individual’s values when onboarding.

Set goals early and outline a plan to achieve them

This keeps your team focused, especially if they will be rewarded for achieving their goals.

Assess performance

Monthly, at least. Adjust goals and plans where necessary, reward good performance, introduce new challenges and deal with issues promptly.

Show genuine interest

Regular catch-ups and remembering children’s names, for instance, makes people feel appreciated.

Empower them

Let your new hires apply their knowledge to business challenges and offer training opportunities outside of their comfort zones. Reward ideas that help you do things better and faster.

Related: Hiring The Right Person Is Critical When Growing A Business

Encourage collaboration

People thrive when they can learn from others and when they can share their knowledge. Involve experienced team members in the new hire’s training. This is a great way to recognise and appreciate their loyalty and skills.

Be transparent

Do you have difficult clients? Will the new hire have to work overtime? What are the business’s goals? New hires should know what they’re getting into.

Provide solid training on everything from company culture and benefits, to opportunities for growth

The biggest cost associated with training people is the time it takes for them to become productive. But rushing through on-the-job training could lead to a host of other problems, including repeated mistakes and a lack of confidence.

Openly communicate any changes in the business

Manage your team’s expectations and be clear about yours. Allow new hires to question and understand how you do things and to point out errors – their past experience probably gave them new ideas and ways of working that could boost your team’s efficiency and productivity.

Be upbeat

Your mood sets the tone for everyone else. You can have the best product in the world but unless your team is passionate and enthusiastic about that product, you won’t get the results you’re hoping for.

Keeping people motivated and productive is hard work

But if you provide them with the tools, knowledge and support to do their best work and to contribute their best ideas, motivation and productivity will come naturally.

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