Startups To Watch In The Western Cape

The Western Cape Government is pleased to announce the 2014 finalists of the Premier’s Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards. Three finalists have been selected in each of the five categories following a province-wide call for entries and an independent judging process. They represent a diverse range of businesses covering activities such as media, entertainment, technology, education and food production.

Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, said one of his key goals was to foster a strong culture of entrepreneurship. He said: “The annual Premier’s Entrepreneurship Recognition Awards is the showcase event for entrepreneurship in our province. It allows us to identify inspiring, high-potential entrepreneurs, and to recognise them for the important role they are playing in putting Western Cape business on the global map, and for creating growth and jobs in our economy.”

Minister Winde continued: “Entrepreneurs don’t only create jobs – they spur innovation, make our province and country more competitive, and create economic opportunities throughout the value chain in their respective industries. They also inspire others to follow in their spirit.”

This year, the Awards received more than 300 entries – a more than 300% increase compared to the inaugural competition last year. The awards recognise five categories: emerging business, established business, green business, social enterprise and student business idea.

The winners will be announced on 20 November at an awards ceremony hosted by Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Here is the list of finalists. : http://www.westerncape.gov.za/general-publication/finalists-premiers-entrepreneurship-recognition-awards-2014

EMERGING BUSINESS CATEGORY

Kennedy Kitheka: Funda
Funda partners with universities to create affordable, online learning programmes with dynamic course content. Their first partnership, with Continuing Education at University of Pretoria (CE @ UP), allows students across Sub-Saharan Africa to access a range of cloud-based courses. The Funda team entered their idea into the Mazars business competition in 2011, and used their R50 000 prize to launch the business by creating short, exciting videos explaining difficult concepts in physical science and mathematics.  In 2012 the United Nations awarded them Best Online Platform contributing to meeting the Millennium Challenge in education. The company is now working on a range of new courses as part of its partnership with CE @ UP.

 

Johan du Toit: Lusahn Pet Products
Every year, thousands of pets and valuable animals go missing, are stolen, or are trafficked over borders. Lusahn Pet Products enables pet owners to register their pets on a database, and implant a microchip which allows lost pets to be easily identified via a unique code. The company, which already has more than 100 000 pets on its database, aims to expand its operations to include farm animals, wildlife and an international database with global search functionality. By working closely with animal shelters and organizing “chip days” when animals can have the implant done for free, they are growing the number of animal owners registering their pets.

 

Stuart Forrest: Triggerfish Animation
Triggerfish Animation develops and produces animated feature films for the global market. The company has produced two international feature films, Adventures in Zambezia (2012), starring Samuel L. Jackson and,Khumba (2013), starring Liam Neeson. Both of these films have been dubbed into over 25 languages and have been released in cinemas in over 40 countries. Triggerfish is currently in development on three new feature films, which it plans to release over the next five years. The company is building a world-class animation studio to produce content that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the major Hollywood studios.

 

ESTABLISHED BUSINESS CATEGORY

Paula Brown and Vuyokazi Matu: Okuhle Media
A women-owned and managed, multi-faceted TV production and media company, Okuhle Media is a content creator that offers through-the-line content marketing and production services to broadcasters,  brands and corporates alike. The company conceptualises and produces original and world-class content while offering an in-house marketing and media offering. Television properties such as Hectic Nine9 on SABC 2 and Sarah Graham Cooks Cape Town on SABC 3 (and globally in 40 countries) has resulted in the company winning the Imbongi Award (for best production company in the Western Cape) and a SAFTA Award respectively. With its new state-of-the art studios, purpose built for HD production, Okuhle is extending its offering into television recording, broadcast and post-production while securing and growing its distribution footprint for its original reality-lifestyle properties.  The five entrepreneurs behind Okuhle have shown they have what it takes to survive and thrive in a notoriously fickle and difficult industry. 

Jeanne Groenewald: Elgin Free Range Chickens
In 1997, Jeanne Groenewald, worried about the impact of processed, chemically enhanced foods on her two children, began rearing free range chickens in her backyard. Today, she supplies almost 80 000 free range chickens per week to leading South African retailers, deli’s and restaurants from the company’s premises in Grabouw. The company’s product is simple: drug-free, stress-free, antibiotic-free, animal-by-product free and healthy chicken. Armed with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a BSc Agriculture degree, Jeanne has the knowledge and skills to grow the business to become a leading local supplier and exporter. One of the company’s main challenges is the lack of “free range” legislated standards, meaning that many companies unfairly claim this status for their products. With a current staff complement of close to 300 people, and growing, Elgin Free Range Chickens is a major employer in the Overberg.

Frans Struwig: iKubu
This Stellenbosch-based company was started by a small group of Computer Engineering students who set out to develop innovative products using computer vision and radar technologies. They provide product development services to third parties, while also developing their own products. iKubu likes to say “we help people to see what they can’t”. They have developed a micro-radar system with various applications, such as bicycle safety. iKubu’s “Backtracker” product, for example, simply and smartly notifies cyclists when cats approach too closely from behind. Another milestone was the brief to develop a 3D bag scanning system for Qantas Airlines. The company won the Eskom Open Innovation Challenge in 2012.

 

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE CATEGORY

Adri Williams and Eunice Nyobole: Khayelitsha Cookie Company
Khayelitsha Cookies (KC) produces an extensive range of high quality hand-baked cookies for the hospitality, retail and corporate markets. Their vision is to not only produce the best cookies in South Africa, but to change the lives of everyone involved in the business. The company started with four women in Khayeltisha, and now employs more than 50 women on a full-time basis – collectively owning 30% of the business – who hand-bake 40 000 cookies per day in the company’s factory in Ndabeni. Currently, the company retails via Pick n Pay, and there is growing demand from overseas distributors who values the uniqueness of the brand and product. KC is currently housed in five separate units in an old industrial park, but plans are afoot to acquire land and build a new custom factory, powered by renewable energy, to cater for expansion and improved productivity.

 

Jolyon Langerman: My ComLink
My ComLink is a digital portal linked to 213 high schools, 36 primary schools and 78 other clubs and youth organizations, feeding news and information with “cool content” to and from these institutions. In addition, the portal has a growing library of education resources, content and tools provided by teachers and schools, all made possible by sponsors and advertisers. There is no charge to access the portal, and the site’s pilot Grade 12 education programme attracted around 930 000 views and downloads from its quality, positive and responsible audience of students, parents, teachers and sport and youth club members. As the portal extends its content to include Grades 8 to 11, audience numbers are expected to grow dramatically, attracting more advertisers and revenue. The main portal’s current viewer base of 240,000+ views per month is growing at the rate of 10% to 12% per month, showing that a “free to view” web content business with quality, relevant content can attract loyal customers and advertisers.

 

Beatrice Delpierre: essay Gifts
essay Gifts is a designer corporate company “with heart”, that empowers rural crafters and young designers by sourcing products from them for the corporate, promotional, complimentary gifting and conference accessory industries. The company bridges the gap between companies and small producers, managing the process to ensure that these small businesses deliver a world-class product on time. They seek to assist disadvantaged communities who lack market access in taking part in the economy by integrating low technology, low cost, handmade production in a meaningful way into the fast, change driven, modern economy of mass production. By supplying bridging finance (paying producers a 50% deposit in order to buy raw materials to start the order) they also address a chronic problem besetting small-scale producers: lack of access to micro-finance. This is complemented by management support through the entire production process, from order to delivery.

 

GREEN BUSINESS CATEGORY

Shameem Kumandan: Washtub Industrial Laundry Service
Washtub Industrial Laundry Service was established in 1995 as a small launderette for students in Stellenbosch. The organization is now one of the fastest-growing and most innovative laundry businesses in the country. It’s more than 60 workers are drawn from the ranks of the unemployed and unskilled, and are given valuable skills and training. The company’s equipment and operations are designed to minimize electricity consumption and environmental impact by recycling water and controlling effluent and chemicals usage.

 

Neil du Preez: Mellowcabs
Mellowcabs manufactures and operates electric mini-cabs that provide an on-demand taxi service in cities, with revenue derived from passenger fares and advertising. Mellowcabs also boasts a mobile app, allowing passengers to monitor Mellowcabs positions around them, book a cab, pay for a cab or rate the service received.  Currently in pre-production, the emission-free taxis have world-leading technology and capabilities, and will be on the road by end 2014. As cities become more populated, with a growing need for affordable transport, and as energy costs and pollution drive the need for more efficient and green solutions, Mellowcabs will provide a logical option – and the company has a global vision to be in every major city, supported by strong interest from potential partners. Regenerative braking (using braking to charge batteries), illuminated body panels and sustainable shell materials are just some of the innovations inherent in the Mellowcabs concept.

 

Catherine Morris: GreenHome Products
Catherine Morris started GreenHome Products (GHP) after she saw a disposable cup made from Tapioca instead of polystyrene in Thailand. Today GHP supplies sustainable, biodegradable food packaging made from annually renewable, plant-based raw materials. Most of the products are made from bagasse, the material left over after sugar has been extracted from sugarcane. Their range includes coffee cups, take-away containers, plates, bowls, cutlery, bags and much more. The company employs 18 people and its customer base is growing rapidly and already supplies to eight other African countries. Because the concept of compostable packaging is a relatively new one, GHP runs a marketing campaign encouraging people to look at green waste as a potential resource and offers clients a composting service. GHP is the first biodegradable food packaging company in South Africa, and as a result has experience, a solid reputation and a growing brand following.

 

 

BEST STUDENT BUSINESS IDEA

Lillian Maboya: Grow Up
“Grow Up” is a simple, easy-to-use, assemble-at-home vertical garden that has a cover for the front and thus provides insulation both from the wind as well as a greenhouse effect that encourages seasonal plants to grow all year round. It also comes with a special effective fertilizer that retains water and is sterile, thus preventing the growth of weeds. This garden can stand on its own, thus potentially providing support for fragile walls or housing, and has an effective irrigation system that evenly distributes water whilst also reducing the time required for this task. The garden system is stackable vertically and horizontally, thus allowing individuals or businesses to maximize their available space. It is low cost (due to its scale and simplicity) and made out of “green” material (reused or recycled) and is also aesthetically pleasing. The “Grow Up” will also come with the option of buying seeds and an instruction manual on how to assemble it, tips on how to use it and garden effectively. The idea is in the prototype planning stage to refine the design and prepare for launch.

 

Trent Pike: instaLens
instaLens is a series of optical photographic lenses that attach to the inbuilt camera on any mobile device, such as smartphones, and provide various photographic effects to the camera function. They work by attaching magnetically to a metal sticker that adheres to the camera lens on a device, and are therefore able to be used on almost any cellphone/smartphone that is currently on the market, as well as tablets, iPads and webcams. The product is based on the premise that people no longer need, or want, to carry around expensive, sizeable, technically complex and laborious SLR cameras to take pictures and capture memories. Phoneography is the fastest growing photography industry in the world: the instaLens collection has a broad appeal, acting as an amalgam of digital and optical photography by enabling optical photographic functions on a digital device.

 

Francois Petousis and David Gluckman: Lumkani
Lumkani has developed an off-the-shelf fire detection device and alert service using radio frequency (RF) transmission technology designed for informal dwellings. The device is an innovative heat detector which measures the rate-of-rise of temperature in the dwelling. In the event of a fire, the device will sound an alarm, giving the family an opportunity to be proactive before the fire is unmanageable. Within 20 seconds the device will transmit a signal, setting off neighbouring dwellings’ heat detectors up to a 60 metre radius, raising the alert of potential danger and creating a community-wide response to the fire. Lumkani is currently rolling out a pilot phase in four low-income communities in different informal settlements where devices will be sold at the retail price of R90. The company is testing a number of strategies in this pilot to unearth meaningful insights that will inform a large-scale local and global roll-out.

 

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the owner of Ideate.

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