Six start-ups stand up and stump. It’s like the opening of a bad joke, but exactly what happened this morning when Joburg-based business accelerator Seed Engine finished the second of its intensive 12 week start-up programs. Six new companies that it’s helped nurture presented their ambitious plans to a panel of investors in the hope of raising funds to take their ideas to the next level.
Will they get the cash injection they’re after? Who knows – but there’s certainly money on the table.
Seed Engine was founded last year in order to help would be entrepreneurs develop a tech-related idea to the stage where it’s attractive to investors. According to founder Mark Elias, only ideas with international potential make it to the demanding 12 week course, which is funded through partners like ABSA and Microsoft’s BizSpark program.
So what did we make of the companies who pitched today? Here’s the full list, along with my verdict in the style of a much more interesting Dragons’ Den.
The strongest candidate was Puntr (Disclosure – Andy Hadfield, who advises Puntr – is a regular on the ZATech Show). Puntr began life as an ambitious idea back at Startup Weekend, and is now looking like it has real potential to succeed. The idea is that people who watch live sport on TV almost always do it now with a ‘second screen’ in their hands, through which they IM mates or chat on Twitter about how rubbish the ref is and so on. Puntr turns all that speculation into mini-games – so during a corner kick, for example, you can predict whether or not a goal is going to be scored. If you’re right, you win some points and go to the top of a table.
Right now, those points are used for simple friendly challenges among friends, but they could be used for a less complex fantasy league-type competition or – licences permitting – online gambling.
“Our mission is to own the ‘second screen’ in South Africa in time for the Brazil World Cup,” says CEO Grant I’Ons.
Simple, fun take on gaming with the potential to break out into a massive international franchise if it gets the formula right. Also, should sell plastic figures.
If you have an iPad, you’ll know that there there are loads of apps for kids. One reason Android tablets don’t get used so much, is because there’s very few good apps for kids. So it’s great news, then, that Colormeclever’s founder Danielle Orkin is planning to bring her brand to all platforms. She’s spotted a problem with kids apps in general: they’re either story-telling ebooks, educational or games. There’s little out there that combines all the things children like doing in one space.
Colormeclever, then, is a series of ebooks which tell a story with a moral in an interactive form. Once the story is done, kids are encouraged to think about it and make something related, which they can share to the world. The first story, Monster Moogle, is a parable about imaginary monsters and how they don’t exist, and kids are encouraged to upload their pictures of things which only exist in the imagination when they’re done reading the story.
Orkin says that she wants investment to help build the brand and develop Colormeclever books which can be used in schools as well as at home for kids aged 4-8.
A magical childhood friend which parents will enjoy singing along to as well.
Internfit is one of those ideas that after someone has explained it to you, it seems incredible that no-one is doing it already. According to founder David Feinberg, there’s a huge problem in universities and workplaces where over half a million graduates are looking for jobs, but many internships for these people – and students who need to complete an internship as part of their course – are going unfulfilled. Internfit thus steps in as an online recruitment agency specialising in advertising internships. If the problem is as big as Feinberg makes out, it’s a sure-fire winner.
An idea big enough to knock down mountains, but with a small chink in its armour – are you sure no-one is doing it already?/
Annabel Dallamore used to work for the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, fielding calls from the general public who’d heard about this whole ‘shares’ thing but weren’t quite how it worked. Realising that every call was a duplication of effort on her behalf, she’s now left in order to start Stock Shop – a website that’s full of advice about how to get involved with stock-based investments or day trading, and can suggest products that you might be interested in.
In other words, if you don’t know your derivatives from your dividends, this could be the app for you.
The site also promises unbiased advice for which stock-related product you should buy, a bit like the loan comparison sites which can get deals from all the available banks.
Verdict: Lernaean Hydra
A multi-headed beast which doesn’t tie you down to one bank or product, but the stock market is still a place full of dangerous serpents if you ask us.
What if your loved ones were knocked down by a car tomorrow? How long would it take authorities to contact you? Probably quite a while. Best to sign them up to 1Heart, then, a service which allows you to log important medical information and contact details in the cloud, linked to a unique number which is in turn etched on the back of a cheap bracelet. Anyone who SMSes the number will automatically alert your key contacts that something is wrong, and first responders can use it to log into a web portal and find out important information about you and your medical history.
Obviously this has the potential to be huge – although there’s a lot of privacy implications that the creators will need to take into account – and I fully expect health insurers to start offering it as a benefit (it’s also being pitched to sports clubs and corporate employers too). The only catch is that there’s plenty of offline ways of doing this already which don’t require an annual subscription.
The strongest of them all if it can just get enough momentum and a steer in the right direction. Also, lays on the schmaltz pretty heavily as a sell.
Students, apparently, have fun 52 weeks of the year. They should also be studying 52 weeks of the year, and buying textbooks too. Hence Fifty2, which – I think – is an uber-social network for students that will tell them what parties are happening where, like Facebook, and also when their lectures start and what books they’ll need. It sounds intriguing, but leaves us a little confused with the breadth of its scope – there are individual tools for all of these things already, and developing your own Google Now sounds like a mammoth task. Founder Sean Pleaner pitches it thus: “People create a product, then find a market. We’ve found a market, and now want to sell to it.” I’m not sure they’ve got it the right way round.