Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), the LaunchLab and STARTUP AUTOBAHN have joined in partnership to offer a unique opportunity to students or professionals, as well as existing startups in South Africa.
The Mercedes-Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge will target two streams. It will ask interested students and professionals (as a first stream) and existing startups (as a second stream) to pitch their innovative ideas around a set of challenges, tailor-made to advanced manufacturing and benchmark sales and marketing topics, as identified by Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
The challenge spans various topics – ranging from big data and machine learning for manufacturing, the digitisation of logistics and production, app-based solutions for the evaluation of the condition of pre-owned vehicles, chatbot solutions for manufacturing learning and many more.
The three partners are well-matched to create this unique opportunity for South African innovation talent.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa has a proud history and heritage in South Africa spanning more than six decades. Being part of the global Daimler network, a company with a track record in innovation and pioneering spirit of over a century, offers the successful participants access to expert input and guidance without parallel.
Related: DTI Funding
The LaunchLab, a cutting edge mixed-use business incubator based at Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape and currently building a network of university campus-based incubators in Africa to help develop an entrepreneurial ecosystem that accelerates entrepreneurs to a new level, will facilitate the challenge – running from end of August to November 2017.
The third partner, STARTUP AUTOBAHN, is a global innovation platform, co-founded by Daimler, with locations in Germany, Singapore and China, that connects startups with corporates in the mobility and production industry.
At the end of the process successful participants from the first stream, students and professionals, stand the chance to win incubation support for their innovative ideas. The successful participants from the second stream, the existing startup companies, stand a chance to get their share of R600 000 for supplier development, international exposure and the possibility to become a supplier for Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s global parent company, Daimler.
All interested parties can register for an information seminar, to be hosted on the 31st of August 2017 at the Nedbank Stellenbosch University LaunchLab premises in Stellenbosch.
The link to the information seminar will also be available on http://mb4.me/MBSAInnovationChallenge.
Immediately after the information seminar the submission phase will open, where participants can submit a video online or pitch in front of a camera at various participating campuses until the end of September. A shortlist of candidates/teams in both streams will then be notified and enter the second phase of the process where the ideas will be polished and benefit from access to Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Daimler AG and STARTUP AUTOBAHN expert role-players.
In November the shortlisted groups will then have the opportunity to present their ideas to Mercedes-Benz South Africa decision makers.
“MBSA has partnered with the LaunchLab as part of our continuing efforts to contribute to the economic growth and sustainability of the country as a whole and to youth development. The areas that the challenge is focusing on are key to our continued growth and success as we operate in a highly competitive space,” says Andreas Engling, CEO and Executive Director Manufacturing, Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
“The LaunchLab is very excited to have joined hands with Mercedes-Benz South Africa and STARTUP AUTOBAHN on the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge. This is another example of a well-known multinational seeing the value of engaging with the startup ecosystem and we are very pleased to be able to facilitate the interaction between these two groups to leverage the strengths of both, for mutual benefit. This is an awesome opportunity for our local entrepreneurs,” says Philip Marais, CEO of the LaunchLab.
“We are excited to get in touch with promising tech startups from the region. With the platform STARTUP AUTOBAHN, we can support them and further shape the future of mobility and production,” says Anke Kleinschmit’s, Vice-President Group Research & Sustainability, Daimler AG.
Throughout the challenge, progress and news will be shared online and on social media platforms, utilising the hashtag #MBSAInnovationChallenge.
Applications For MEST Class of 2020 Now Open To Aspiring Software Entrepreneurs Across Africa
Applications for MEST Africa’s 1-year, fully-sponsored entrepreneurial training program in Accra, Ghana are now open for aspiring entrepreneurs from across the African continent.
“This year, building on our 2018 admission of the most number of female founders in our history, we are also focused on continuing to increase our representation of female founders, as we recognise the incredible value female leaders provide in tech.”
Qisimah, the first MEST-funded company with a South African CEO, selected as the Best National Digital Solution for the International World Summits Award in Business and Commerce
Tress, the all-female team with a product that’s changing the billion-dollar hair industry, recently accepted into Y Combinator
Asoriba, the church management startup that’s swept through West Africa, recently partnered with payments giant, Interswitch and has been featured on CNN, BBC, Forbes
Meqasa, Ghana’s number one real-estate portal which went on to raise $500,000 from Frontier Digital Ventures, and recently acquired Jumia House in Ghana.
Kudobuzz, an advertising and marketing software, was selected as one of the 14 ventures to represent Africa at the 2017 edition of PitchDrive, and recently acquired MEST-backed company AdGeek.
SynCommerce, a start-up helping customers sell across channels and keep inventory in sync, recently won the gaming and entertainment category at TechCrunch in Nairobi.
Attend a local MEST information session
Complete the application form
Successful applicants are contacted for a phone interview
Qualified applicants are asked to complete an aptitude test
Top candidates in each region will be invited for an in-person interview in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya or Cote d’Ivoire
Applications for the class of 2020 close February 8, 2019
Eskom Competition Winner Targets More Growth
The Eskom Development Foundation is tasked with implementing Eskom’s CSI strategy in sectors including enterprise development, education, healthcare, social and community development.
After recently winning a competition for small businesses, South Side Plumbing and Construction is looking at growing its brand and expanding its operations. Two months ago the company scooped R125 000 in prize money after winning the trade and services category of the 2018 Eskom Business Investment Competition (BIC).
The company, which is based in Eldorado Park (Johannesburg), provides specialised services in plumbing and construction. Director Peter Lengweng started the business in 2015 with his partners, Jonathan and Cathy Khan, and they now have 45 permanent and 20 part time employees.
When the company was started, they primarily wanted to attract clients in the insurance sector and that’s how they got most of their clients. They devised a clever way to get their end-user clients by approaching and securing contracts with insurance companies. The insurance companies receive claims from their clients, and the ones that require services that Lengweng’s company provides are then assisted through this relationship. The company also does domestic work but most of their business is generated through the insurance companies.
Lengweng has a strong background in marketing and he believes no company that is serious about succeeding can go about its business and actually achieve maximum success while completely ignoring the importance of marketing it.
“We are going to be using a big chunk of our winnings from the Eskom BIC to rebrand the company. When we started, I did the company branding myself, which is not my forte, so winning a competition such as this one that comes with this kind of cash injection gives us a great opportunity to do things right in that respect and also augment our cash flow. We also want to grow the company by opening branches in other provinces as we currently only service the Johannesburg area in Gauteng,” says Lengweng.
Read next: Is Venture Capital Right For You?
AlphaCode Awards R16 Million To Fintech Start-ups In One Of SA’s Richest Start-up Initiatives
This R2 million scale up accelerator offers mentorship, expert guidance and support services to help these more established businesses to scale and create jobs.
Last night, Rand Merchant Investment Holding (RMI), through AlphaCode, awarded entrepreneurial packages valued at R16 million to eight of South Africa’s most promising financial services start-ups. The entrepreneurial packages consist of R1 million in grant funding and R1 million in support, which includes mentorship, monthly expert-led sessions, exclusive office space in Sandton, marketing, legal and other business support services as well as access to the broader RMI network.
The AlphaCode Incubate initiative, in partnership with Merrill Lynch South Africa and Royal Bafokeng Holdings, identifies South African financial services entrepreneurs with extraordinary ideas and businesses that could impact the financial services industry. More than 200 start-ups applied to participate. Of these, sixteen made it to final pitch evening and eight recipients were selected.
The eight winning businesses are:
|Akiba Digital||A gamified mobile app making it easier and more rewarding to set, manage and meet savings goals.||Tebogo Mokwena and Kamogelo Kekana||https://bit.ly/2yOjYoX
|ISpani Group||Provides access for insurers into traditionally under insured communities through prepaid vouchers and USSD sold by a network of spaza shop vendors.||Prince Nwadeyi, Khathazile Moroe, Patrick Machekera and Louis Buys||https://bit.ly/2CrgbkE
|Jamii||De-risks tenant rent default through offering tenants incentive-based discounts on food and transport and bolt-on retrenchment cover.||Adrian Taylor, Marc Maasdorp and Bartek Dutkowski||https://bit.ly/2ytdc8F
|Nisa Finance||An invoice financing platform that enables financiers to issue invoice-backed loans to SMEs quickly and affordably by fully-automating the application and invoice verification through ERP system integration.||Thando Hlongwane, Tekane Ledimo and Sinqobile Mashalaba||https://bit.ly/2yptcIW
|Pago||A low cost mobile micro payments platform for the informal sector to enable an inclusive economy by digitising remittances through the use of blockchain technology.||Philip Mngadi and Noel Lynch||https://bit.ly/2S1QKvn
|Prospa||A mobile savings wallet for low-income earning South Africans that makes it easy to save small amounts infrequently using prepaid vouchers.||Dhanyal Davidson and Carl Ngwenya||https://bit.ly/2JbwbJf
|SELFsure||Enables millennials to significantly reduce car insurance premiums by self-insuring part of the risk via peer to peer lending.||Proud Chitumba, Amos Mugova and Tshepiso Shamane||https://bit.ly/2J6HVfV
|Yalu||A self-service credit life insurance platform which replaces a customer’s current policy with a more affordable, simpler and rewarding policy.||Nkazi Sokhulu, Tlalane Ntuli, Steve Goeieman and Life Mhlanga||https://bit.ly/2PH87QF
The programme has disbursed R13 million in funding to 15 black-owned financial services businesses since it began three years ago. “Some have experienced exponential growth and we have been amazed at the level of traction they have received locally and internationally. The intention behind AlphaCode’s Explore, Incubate and Accelerate programmes is for RMI to discover the next OUTsurance or Discovery; we want to identify, partner and grow the future of financial services in South Africa,” says Dominique Collett, head of AlphaCode and a RMI senior investments executive.
During the event, contestants had just three minutes to pitch their businesses, with a couple of minutes set aside for questions from a formidable panel of judges. These included Phuti Mahanyele, CEO of Sigma Capital; Raymond Ndlovu, investment executive, Remgro; Nakedi Ramaphakela, finance director, Royal Bafokeng Holdings; Anthony Knox, MD Investment Banking of Merrill Lynch South Africa and Dominique Collett.
Julie Benadie, regional executive of Operations and Corporate Affairs at Merrill Lynch explained: “We believe in supporting disruptive ideas so that creative fintech solutions will emerge to address the challenges that South Africa faces. We want South Africa to become a fintech centre of excellence with its already advanced financial services infrastructure.”
The AlphaCode Incubate programme deals with common challenges that financial services startups face. All participants are early stage businesses, under two years old and at least 51% owned by black South Africans.
“AlphaCode is also now also seeking additional fintech entrepreneurs for our Explore programme. This offers a 12-month data science and business skills programme for 20 aspirant South African fintech entrepreneurs in conjunction with The Explore Data Science Academy,” Collett added.
Candidates will go through an intensive six-month data science-training programme, where they will learn how to design a 10X business along with the core digital skills needed to build a fintech organisation. This will be followed by three-months of business skills training. Interested fintech entrepreneurs should apply at www.alphacode-explore10x.club by 30 October 2018.”
In addition, AlphaCode recently selected four more established fintech businesses for its Accelerate programme: Entersekt, Livestock Wealth, Click2Sure and Invoice Worx. This R2 million scale up accelerator offers mentorship, expert guidance and support services to help these more established businesses to scale and create jobs.
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