Reckon your business idea is better than Lumkani, the township shack fire detector that recently won almost R1m in major international startup competition The Venture. Good, because the organisation is now recruiting entries for the 2016 competition, and there’s a whopping R3.6 million grand prize on the table if you’re interested.

The Venture is an annual contest that seeks out the best startups in 16 countries through regional applications and semi-finals who then go through to the international finals in San Francisco, US and to present short pitches for their shot at the grand prize.

The South African regional leg was launched at a swanky gala dinner on Friday evening where guests including Lumkani’s David Gluckman and award-winning Hollywood actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (of 12 Years a Slave, Children of Men and office fave Serenity) were in attendance.

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Chiwetel Ejiofor with the event’s host Nozipho Mbanjwa

“As Lumkani, we have a big global vision,” Gluckman said about Lumkani’s win, “We have to invest in the right people, resources, talent and create a broader network. Winning third prize will allow us to get our product out there and go international.”

David Gluckman with Nozipho Mbanjwa
David Gluckman with Nozipho Mbanjwa

The judges who will decide which startup goes through to the finals are Tebogo Ditshego, Xolisa Dyeshana, Lebo Gunguluza and Fikile Moeti, all of whom have made big successes of themselves as local entrepreneurs in their own rights.

“My advice to other startups would be to know your market, understand your producr and test your product to make sure people want it. Make sure it’s the right thing to sell,” Gluckman said as a word of encouragement to other social entrepreneurs who are venturing into the startup world.

Entries open on 1st September and must be submitted on the Chivas Regal The Venture website. You must be 25 years or older to apply and entries close on 15th November. Local finalists will be notified in December and the winner will be announced in January 2016.

Dates for the finals are yet to be finalised but are expected to take place in June or July 2016.