Looking for inspiration for your first/next startup? You’ll struggle to find a more diverse bunch of businesses than those who turned up for Venture Network’s first pitching evening of 2017 at the Tshimologong Precinct in Johannesburg tonight. From a printer turned chocolatier who adds edible emblems to dessert plates to a flushless loo that turns urine into fertiliser, via a food review app, an online tech store and an service for helping people with critical illness to manage their meds. The entrepreneurs ranged from the frivolous to the most serious, here’s a quick round-up of the ones that caught our eye.

Mom says

The winner of a three-way pitch off for a place on the stage at Innovation Summit later this year was Mom says, an app in the works from one of South Africa’s leading “mummy bloggers”, Shaney Vijendsanath of youbabyandi.com. The idea is to build on the community that Vijendsanath has built up and engage a legion of parents and parents-to-be with an app for reviewing babycare products. Users will be regularly surveyed about their likes and dislikes and product preferences by interested brands and rewarded with things that prospective parents love, like free nappies.

Legal Legends

The HiiL Justice Accelerator finalist Legal Legends is just back from the Netherlands, and was showing off the latest iteration of its automated contracting product, which offers legal services to startups in low cost bundles. Definitely one to check out if you need quick documents for forming a company, employing people or creating privacy policies for websites.

The Saucy Printing Co

Shark Tank veteran The Saucy Printing Co was set-upu by ex-printer turned chef (of sorts) Michael Fletcher, who uses a traditional silk screen printing process combined with a special sauce and plates to print chocolate logos onto dessert dishes. Fletcher says he has a booming business with weddings and corporate functions, but is trying to raise funds to expand his business and import more of the unique crockery he needs for his wares.


What happens when people with critical diseases like HIV/AIDS and TB don’t take their medicine according to a schedule? The cost of their treatment goes up almost 100 fold, says Healthtrac founder and CEO Chantal Du Chenne, and theirs a much higher chance that they’ll become one of the 1 000 South Africans a day who die of largely treatable diseases. Du Chenne’s solution to this perennial problem is a software platform for monitoring medicine delivery. Monitoring is done through a phone app, mobi site or USSD. The twist is that it’s not just being developed as a public health project, it’s also being sold partly as a cost-saving tool for large corporates who lose hundreds of days of productivity to ill health among employees.

Liquid Gold

There’s gold in them thar bowls, apparently. Liquid Gold started life as a fiendishly clever flushless system that can be retro-fitted to almost any South African urinal in a gents’ loo. By saving water but remaining hygenic and sweet smelling, the team – which developed the product with help from Tshwane University of Technology – reckon they save water, money and the environment all at once. But they aren’t stopping there: they’ve also developed a new system to turn urine in fertiliser, and produce much more fertiliser from a litre of urine than existing systems. Don’t rush out to fit a urine capture tank to your own toilet just yet, however. It still takes 300 litres or so of urine to produce a kilo of fertiliser – just as well Liquid Gold’s design for a new urinal for public places is unisex, then.

There were, of course, a whole bunch more startups on display. If you want to meet them, keep an eye on Venture Network’s Twitter account for the next event.

Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar, Wired.co.uk, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.