The Most Innovative Companies 2021 Summit & Awards

The Most Innovative Companies Summit & Awards 2021 Webinar
BY Fast Company SA < 1 MINUTE READ

In 2020, the world experienced a disruption of epic proportion that changed almost everything in our society. Despite this great reset, innovative South African companies adopted the use of technology to keep themselves afloat.

To recognise these great 2020 innovations, Fast Company is showcasing a film and virtual awards event to award innovation and innovators in South Africa, reviewing how these companies dealt with the COVID-19 disruption and skills challenges. Featuring the founder of the Discovery Group Adrian Gore who will share the story of the latest innovation from Discovery, the Discovery Bank. The Summit will also feature the chairperson of the Silicon Cape, Dr Sumarie Roodt, who will talk about developing innovation eco-systems that enable businesses to thrive.

DATE: 14 April 2021


WANTED: The Most Innovative Companies in South Africa

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

Nominations for the 2021 Fast Company (SA) Most Innovative Companies Awards have officially opened.

Since 2008, Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies edition has been the definitive source for recognising the organisations that are transforming industries and shaping societies. 

In 2020, Fast Company South Africa recognised more than 30 organisations in South Africa with this prestigious honour.

This year, Fast Company has taken its Most Innovative Companies edition a giant leap forward, introducing a virtual and hybrid awards session to coincide with the publication of its Most Innovative Companies magazine.

The virtual session will bring together South African innovators and innovative companies under one virtual roof to map out how innovation can enable South Africa to build a new economy.

The conference will serve as a platform for companies to share how their innovative solutions can enable the new normal. The Fast Company community in South Africa will also get an opportunity to listen and watch some of the countries leading innovators sharing their thinking behind some of SA’s latest innovations.

The virtual awards session will celebrate the cream of the crop of companies innovating across a range of sectors. Twenty-five finalists will be chosen from the nominations and five companies will be awarded as the most innovative. 

Whether you’re a fintech institution that’s developed an easy, cashless way to pay, an app development company that’s introduced an innovative solution to a common challenge, or a start-up trying to make life a little easier for South Africans, all nominations are welcome.

You can nominate your company, or a company you feel deserves to be honoured at the inaugural conference and awards gala, by visiting Fast Company (SA) website here

The closing date for nominations is the 5th of February 2021. This is an opportunity for companies to be added to the list of companies that are truly making a difference through innovation.

How to declutter your Digital Life

BY Fast Company SA 7 MINUTE READ

“How do you simplify your digital life?” is quickly becoming the question of our generation. Between packed calendars, overflowing inboxes, and the constant pull of social media and news (and Netflix) it can feel like how you spend your time online isn’t really up to you.

But what if there was a way to use your technology without feeling used by it? The answer is Digital minimalism.

Coined by author and computer science professor Cal Newport in his book of the same name, digital minimalism is a philosophy of technology use based on the understanding that our relationship with our apps, tools, and phones is nuanced and deserves more intention than we give it.

The problem–as Cal sees it– is that email and chat can be both stressful and productive.

Facebook can be both distracting and empowering.

Our phones are equally annoying interruptions and powerful tools for navigating the world.

How you use your apps and tools can bring you value or be a frustrating distraction. And finding a balance between the negative and positive aspects of technology is a delicate balancing act that digital minimalism tries to solve.


The concept of “minimalism” has become more and more popular over the past few decades.

As many of us find ourselves sucked into a lifestyle of overconsumption and “more,” the idea of living happily with less becomes more alluring.

However, minimalism–in all its forms–isn’t just about reducing how much “stuff” you have but being intentional about why you have what you do and how you can use it in the best way possible.

As Cal explains:

“Minimalists tend to spend much less money and own many fewer things than their peers. They also tend to be much more intentional and often quite radical in shaping their lives around things that matter to them.”

Digital minimalism, in the same way, isn’t just about deleting Facebook or learning a better way to clear out your inbox. It’s about intentionally shaping your digital life around your values so you can feel good about the apps and tools you use on a daily basis.

However, this is harder than it sounds.

The problem isn’t just the sheer usage of technology. It’s in how digital technologies lump together the good with the bad like some omnibus bill.

Few of us are willing to give up the good technology does (getting around via Google Maps, seeing family photos on Instagram, etc . . .) in return for reducing the harm. Yet constantly policing your apps and your own behaviors can only lead to one thing: exhaustion.

According to our own research, we found that on average, you’re likely to:

  • Check email and chat every six minutes or less
  • Use 56+ apps and tools a day and switch between them more than 300 times
  • Spend up to 4.5 hours on your phone
  • Multitask for at least 40% of our day

It’s hard to imagine a worse situation for deep thinking, focus, and even mental health.

The more we accept a life full of attention-sucking apps, devices, and tools, the less time and energy we have for the kind of deep thinking that leads to big ideas, real creativity, and satisfaction.

Instead, digital minimalism presents a different view of technology–one where you focus your time on “a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

On the surface, the core elements of digital minimalism are simple:

First, there’s choice and intention. You’re still using technology, but only what you want and only in ways that connect to your values.

Then, there’s optimizing the tools you use. What you allow into your life needs to work for you. This means separating the good from the bad.

Finally, there’s accepting you won’t be everywhere all the time. Tech companies survive on FOMO–the fear of missing out. But digital minimalists are happy to miss out on the things they know don’t bring value to their lives.

However, this can be a strange process if you’ve never really thought about how you use technology. But as you’ll see, the results are worth it: less stress, more focus, and a better, more fulfilling life.


Developing a digital minimalist mindset isn’t easy. However, in his book, Cal provides a powerful tool in a 30-day plan to kickstart your minimalist lifestyle.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Define your core values (and how technology helps and hurts them)

Digital minimalism relies on a deeper understanding of your values. This is what you’ll be judging the value of each digital tool against.

So ask yourself: What is it that’s important to you? What do you want to achieve from how you spend your time?

Values can be things like authenticity or creativity or even compassion and friendship. These are intentionally large and somewhat vague. However, they’re powerful lenses to look at your technology through.

What part of using Facebook connects with your sense of authenticity? Does being on Twitter or in numerous Slack channels make you feel compassionate?

When you clearly understand your values and how they influence your philosophy of technology use, you can make informed and confident decisions about what to use and when. You become able to prioritize long-term meaning over short-term satisfaction.

(If you need help, author James Clear has a great list of core values you can use as inspiration.)

Step 2: Drop all “optional” technologies for 30 days

Instead of immediately trying to judge whether the tools you use connect to your values, Cal suggests the opposite:

Set aside a 30-day period during which you will take a break from all optional technologies in your life.

“Optional,” in this case, means any tool or app where their “temporary removal would harm or significantly disrupt the daily operation of your profession or personal life.”

Make a list of apps, tools, and services (like Netflix, gaming, etc . . .) that are effectively ‘banned’ for the next 30 days. Work email is not optional. Twitter—most likely—is. Write these down and put them somewhere you’ll be able to see them every day.

The reason for such a drastic change is because the pull of the attention economy has simply become too strong. Trying to gradually change your habits won’t work. Instead, you need the experience of a full break before you can make unbiased decisions about what to let back into your life.

Step 3: Track your “technology triggers” and explore other activities

During the 30 days of your “declutter” you have two goals:

Pay special attention to when you feel the pull of technology. When do you find yourself reaching for your phone? Do you procrastinate on work tasks or sending emails by checking Twitter? Often our technology usage masks some other underlying issue.

Explore “higher quality” activities to fill the void of time. A major part of this declutter is actively trying out other activities in place of technology. Fill the space by reading books or going for walks with friends or working on a hobby you’ve neglected or just daydreaming.

As Cal explains, by the end of the declutter you want to discover “the type of activities that generate real satisfaction, enabling you to confidently craft a better life–one in which technology serves only a supporting role for more meaningful ends.”

Step 4: Create “operating procedures” for the tools you let back in

After your break is done, you’re allowed to reintroduce optional technologies back into your life under two conditions.

First, for each tool, app, or device, ask:

“Does this technology directly support something that I deeply value?”

It doesn’t matter if the tool or app provides some value. It must be intrinsically linked to one of your core values.

For example, you might decide that reading hot takes on Twitter is just a distraction, while chatting with old friends from your hometown over Instagram deeply connects to your value of friendship.

This brings us to the second point. Once an app or tool has made it through the first pass, ask:

“Is this technology set up in the best way to support this value?”

To pass this test, Cal suggests creating operating procedures–clear rules for when and how you use each of the optional technologies you let back in.

For example, you wouldn’t just say “I use Instagram because it helps me feel connected to my friends.” Instead, you would make a more detailed rule such as:

“I check Instagram once a day after working days and limit my usage to just 20 minutes. I’ve reduced my list of friends down to just the most meaningful ones I want to keep up with.”

Every new tool you bring in must also pass these tests.

Step 5: Actively ignore the rest

With your list of allowed tools and apps, clear operating procedures, and high-quality activities to fill your time, you shouldn’t be too stressed about keeping up with Facebook or checking the news every 30 minutes.

But being a digital minimalist is an ongoing process.

As Cal explains:

“The fact that [a piece of technology] offers some value is irrelevant–the digital minimalist deploys technology to serve the things they find most important in their life, and is happy missing out on everything else.”


As we’ve written in the past, the hardest part of any productivity strategy is sticking with it for the long-term. The same goes for maintaining your new practice of digital minimalism.

The key to staying away from attention-sucking technologies is to fill that time with other, more meaningful activities. Yet this isn’t always easy if you’ve spent years scrolling, tapping, and swiping away.

To help you rebuild your curiosity in non-technologically driven pastimes, Cal outlines a number of ways to support your newfound digital autonomy:

  1. Spend time alone. Solitude—both physical and mental—is important for thinking clearly. Rather than feeling the FOMO of social media, try leaving your phone at home while you go for a walk.
  2. Don’t click like. Social media and digital communication have become digital versions of fast food–easy to consume yet with little nutritional value. To combat this, Cal suggests you specifically limit the performative aspect of these tools. Yes, you can stay in touch and connect with loved ones. But don’t click ‘like’ or allow yourself to be always available.
  3. Reclaim leisure. One of the reasons we lean so heavily on digital technologies is that we’ve lost our hobbies. It’s easier to scroll through your phone than read a book. Try reclaiming leisure time for analog tasks you enjoy.
  4. Join the Attention Resistance. You don’t have to use all the features on your phone or be constantly connected to social media. As Cal writes, digital minimalists give themselves less ‘entry points’ to distraction. Try deleting social media off your phone. Or treat it like a professional task—something you do as needed and not more.
  5. Imagine you have to pay for every click, swipe, or tap. If you can’t give your time and attention the value it deserves, then give it a monetary value. Ask how your behavior would change if every swipe on Instagram, click of a clickbait-y infographic, or scroll of your Twitter feed costs $1.

Digital minimalism is a way to not only clearly define what technologies you let into your life but how you use them.

Once you understand your true values you can build your technology use around them. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, you become more intentional, empowered, and productive.

SOURCE: FastCompany.com


Tech Forward: CONNECTED!

BY Fast Company SA 4 MINUTE READ

How powerful satellites and new antennas will soon connect cars to the Cloud.

Imagine being able to drive a car anywhere on the African continent, all the while with a consistent powerful broadband signal, strong enough for passengers to stream high-definition video while the driver gets updates on traffic and road conditions miles down the highway.

How about never again missing a day of work to take your car to the manufacturer because the software needs to be updated?

Such scenarios are not as fantastical as you might think because, within just a few years, a new generation of car antennas and high-throughput satellites will connect vehicles virtually anywhere on earth to the global communications network.

Connecting cars and trucks to the Internet is going to forever change the way we think about personal and commercial highway transportation. Intelligent transport systems and self- driving vehicles will more easily and efficiently move passengers and products to their destinations. At the same time, these connections will enhance both thedriver and the passenger experience with information and entertainment only available with high-speed satellite links.

In addition, by connecting cars to powerful satellites such as Intelsat’s EpicNG constellation, manufacturers will be able to update vehicle software via satellite instead of requiring owners to visit a dealership where technicians update vehicles one at a time.

The high-throughput satellites making this possible have been launched in just the past year or so and include Intelsat 35e, now undergoing testing following its July 5 release. The spacecraft will provide coverage of the African continent, with powerful spot beams that can be picked up by the kinds of small antennas being developed for cars and trucks.

The new generation of antennas are small, flat panels developed by Intelsat partner Kymeta. They have the same capability of the small dish antenna you might see atop a commercial building, but without the bulk and weight. The flat antennas will typically be installed between the headliner and the roof of a vehicle, invisible to the owner yet capable of sending and receiving information virtually anywhere outside of a closed garage if the car’s ignition switch is turned on.

The antennas will take advantage of the unique ability of a satellite to multi- cast information, rather than having signals sent individually to each user over terrestrial cellular or Wi-Fi networks that could be congested or unavailable in certainlocations.

Car manufacturers and their suppliers are just beginning to explore the range of content that might be streamed to the vehicles through these new antennas. The satellite antenna will enable the rapid two- way communications between the car and the cloud server maintained by the car’s manufacturer, allowing the driver to pick from a menu of services. Simplifying access to these solutions will be subscription-based, such as the KĀLOTM global service, being implemented by Intelsat and Kymeta, to provide high-throughput internet access to Kymeta-enabled vehicles.

One item on that menu might be allowing the owner to alter the performance characteristics of a car by modifying the software. For example, perhaps a motorist would order up a “track performance” setting while driving through a winding mountain road on a weekend, but change back to “fuel economy” mode when back home commuting to work. Or maybe a pickup truck owner would change the vehicle’s torque characteristics when towing a trailer.

Other menu items could be a range of “infotainment” options such as streaming music, video from providers such as Netflix, and high-speed broadband. Passengers would have numerous entertainment options either on screens inside the vehicle or on portable devices they brought along for the trip.

For car manufacturers, updating vehicle software via satellite will save millions of dollars in vehicle recalls because they won’t have to fix the cars one at a time at dealerships. Since the mid-1990s, computer-based electronic control units have replaced many of the mechanical and pneumatic control systems in cars and trucks, resulting in millions of lines of software code that need to be managed and sometimes updated. Companies estimate that between 60 and 70 percent of vehicle recalls are the result of software issues. Eliminating the need to make these updates individually at dealerships will also save time for the owners.

One of the issues being worked out among manufacturers and content providers is who will control the relationship with the car owner. For example, will Volkswagen or Mercedes Benz develop their own music streaming services or use a third-party option such as Google Play or Apple Music? The manufacturers are also working out what services might be provided for free as a courtesy to car owners, and which ones might be offered with a one-time payment or a monthly subscription fee.

An important consideration for car manufacturers will be the security of the networks able to access the cars and make software changes. A motorist receiving notice that the brake system on his or her car is about to be updated will want to know that the change has come from the right source and has not been tampered with. Rather than work with hundreds of cellular providers around the world to manage automotive software, manufacturers will be attracted to the security and reliability of a single satellite network.

“Connecting cars and trucks to the Internet is going to forever change the way we think about personal and commercial highway transportation.”

While the high-throughput satellites that can support these services have been launched, the antennas are just coming to market, so we won’t see some of these services until around the 2020 or 2021 model years. But then the technology will take off rapidly. Some manufacturers, such as Mercedes, BMW and Volvo, are already taking advantage of some of the software update capabilities using Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Satellite connections will likely work to complement these services for some applications, but satellite will be the best type of connectivity for manufacturers to make mass updates to vehicles spread across wide geographic areas.

The benefits a connected car can provide to consumers seem to know no bounds, from eliminating time wasted in the auto repair shop waiting for a software update to downloading movies on-demand for your children to watch during a long road trip. Connected cars have already proven to help make our lives easier, efficient and a little more entertaining, and the reliability of a satellite network will help ensure that connectivity is always available.

Author: Brian Jakins, Regional Vice President of Sales in Africa, Intelsat Africa


Crowd Funding Initiative For Students

BY Fast Company SA 3 MINUTE READ

South Africa’s University Student Dropout Rate has over the years been escalating at an alarming rate. To date it is at 60% according to SA’s Science Forum. The main cause of students dropping out of university is financial constraints.

The South African government has acknowledged that South African homes earning below R600 000 per annum need assistance in providing education for their children. This accounts to about 94% of households in South Africa. The fees available from government entities are insufficient, only covering 17% of students who are eligible for assistance.

Feenix is a crowdfunding initiative launched to fund underprivileged and deserving students, as access to education remains a major challenge for so many people who have the ability to further their studies, but lack funds. It is a platform that allows students to access fees to pay their tertiary institutions by getting donations from individuals and corporates.

The crowdfunding mechanism is aimed at tackling the state of education and its crisis in South Africa by building a trust for student fees. The initiative comes as part of a diverse strategy by Standard Bank to develop meaningful, practical and sustainable ways to help youth access quality education. The initiative removes some of their debt owed to universities and ultimately contributes to South Africa’s economic growth.

Head of Standard Bank Incubation and Feenix Interim CEO Jayshree Naidoo says the initiative is a call for everyone in society concerned about the state of education and willing to do something about it.

“Feenix is an opportunity to get involved, whether you’re a student who just wants to get through your degree, or a South African who believes that the future of the country depends on giving young people the tools they need to succeed; one of them being education.

“Feenix rose out of the shared belief that education is vital to breaking the cycle of poverty. The tertiary education funding crisis that resulted in the #Feesmustfall Movement highlighted the importance of education in the lives of South Africans and the barriers that prevent access to it. There was an enormous sense of wanting to help in whatever way possible and a frustration at the lack of channels available to provide that help.”

Feenix’s simple signup process allows students at any one of the 26 public universities in the country to register their financial needs for the current year. The platform then exposes each student profile to a variety of funding sources and links them with potential sponsors. Ordinary South Africans wishing to fund students can search for individual students on the platform and pay the whole, or a portion, of their fees.

Through Feenix it was clear that the support available to

students in need was insufficient and that ordinary South Africans and business owners wanted to play a part, but did not have an avenue to do so. Feenix distributes the responsibility of funding as widely as possible and makes the process as direct and easy as possible.

“The crowdfunding method is a practice of funding a project or venture by raising money from a large number of people. The power of crowdsourcing as a viable solution to boosting educational funding channels is taking off worldwide and we are excited to now be able to take part in this exciting journey in South Africa,” says Naidoo.

The programme has so far been a success raising over R120 000 and fully funding four students, with donations from Standard Bank’s internal staff in just two weeks of its inception, before its public launch.

The students are not chosen on merit, but on selection made by the donors and sponsors. For example, an individual would donate to a student of an institution where they have also studied at, or by looking at a student’s motivation on their profile.

“Individuals can donate an amount from R100 up to the full amount due for students’ fees. It is risk-free as the fees get paid directly to the student’s tertiary institution to make what is happening behind the scenes completely transparent,” adds Naidoo.

The programme plans to fund 3 000 students within the next three years with the support of Standard Bank through its commitment to making sure the target gets met. To date, over R1.4 million has been raised and 29 students have been fully funded. There are 759 students who have put their profiles on the platform, with funding and students increasing on a daily basis.


The winning idea that helps make South Africa safer

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

The difference that exposure, mentorship and investment can make to emerging entrepreneurs is invaluable. And it’s made all the more exciting when the young people are recognised for their brilliant idea that stands to make South Africa a better place. The Santam Safety Ideas Campaign seeks to reward exactly this kind of innovation, which is evident in the calibre of the inaugural campaign’s winners: Ntando Shezi and Ntsako Mgiba.

Awarded an incubation prize of R150 000, Shezi and Mgiba are the bright minds behind Jonga – a cost-effective security system for low income families.

Mgiba says, “This initiative is very close to our hearts because we have families in townships. We are thrilled and grateful to Santam and LaunchLab for believing in our idea and making it possible for us to start developing our product so that we can launch our pilot programme in various communities.”

Accessible and affordable, Jonga includes a sensor that gets mounted on the wall and detects intrusion, sending an alert to the homeowner via a linked smartphone app or an SMS notification. If no one is expected, the system alerts the neighbours, who can respond appropriately.

Judging Panel: Back row, from left to right: Nthabiseng Makgatho, Philip Marais, Asher Grevler, Nathan Van Rooyen, Ebrahim Asmal, Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe. Front row, far left: Ray-ann Sedres. Far right: Nontombi Marule. Winners in front center from left to right: Ntando Shezi, Ntsako Mgiba, Matthew Tait

Mgiba says he hopes the system will go the distance to empower communities to get connected and protected, “We don’t believe security should be a privilege of the few who can afford it. We just want all people to be safe and to make security accessible to everyone.”

This encapsulates what the Santam Safety Ideas Campaign is all about. Launched in July 2016, the initiative encourages people from all walks of life to submit smart, ingenious ideas that have the potential to keep South Africans safe. It’s run in collaboration with Launchlab: a network of university campus-based business incubators, and an initiative of Innovus, Stellenbosch University’s industry interaction and innovation company.

The campaign received over 150 entries, with the finalists all worthy contenders for the title. As the winners, Shezi and Mgiba had the opportunity to participate in an incubation process that saw their ideas developed into working prototypes and a potentially viable business venture.

Social entrepreneurship is just gaining ground in South Africa, especially for young people. It’s not always easy to get a foot in the door as a start-up, unless you have connections and capital. Team Jonga first pitched their idea at the University of Cape Town’s ‘idea auction’ called UCT Up-Starts. The initiative offers students the opportunity to become social entrepreneurs through a 20-week programme. Since receiving attention and investment at Up-Starts 2015, they have entered one competition after the other to raise funds for their product.

Winning the inaugural Santam Safety Ideas Campaign will hopefully see them develop an inspired idea into a sustainable business model that’ll play a pivotal role in making South Africa’s neighbourhoods safer.

For further information on Santam Safety Ideas, visit https://www.santam.co.za/safetyideas/.

How African early-stage investors play a critical role in moving the continent forward

BY Fast Company SA 3 MINUTE READ

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 7, 2017 The 4th annual African Angel Investor Summit – #AAIS2017 – is set to be the next meeting point for Africa’s early-stage investor community. The place to be on November 15-16 will be Workshop 17, right in the middle of Cape Town’s vibrant startup scene. Key debates will be held around the critical role investors play in supporting startup teams to launch, scale and exit.

In previous editions of the summit the importance of seed capital and strong collaboration within the ecosystem were discussed. This time the focus will be on the next steps of the investment cycle with the special theme: ‘Start-Scale-Exit, Funding great startup teams poised for global success’. 250 of the most relevant early-stage investors and key stakeholders will facilitate the exchange of best practices and plot the roadmap for the future of investing on the continent.

Program highlights

At #AAIS2017 there will be numerous key notes, panel discussions, roundtables and interactive workshops given by industry leaders. To set the scene the most experienced experts will unwrap the current investment climate on the African continent. All the ins and outs of the $40M investment secured by Andela will be released by the main players in the latest Series C round. And participants are invited to join roundtables on Angel Investing and Startup Research to share latest insights. Furthermore, this is your chance to learn from and get inspired by 10 distinguished panels on the following topics:

  • State of Play: Current Investment Climate
  • Seed stage: First investor in…..
  • Addressing the gaps in the market to enable innovators across Africa to find the investment
    they need
  • Unlocking Diaspora & International capital to drive local entrepreneurship
  • Expanding from Africa to the world
  • Accelerating Startups to Scale-ups: How accelerators drive growth
  • Scaling for growth
  • Catalyzing smart capital for scale-ups
  • Investing with exits in mind
  • Are Impact Investors even in it for the Exit?


Throughout the 2-day event the top 20 entrepreneurs from the XL Africa accelerator program will showcase their remarkable innovations and significant business traction. Also the World Bank will organize their policy workshop where recommendations for future programs for scale and impact in Africa will be discussed.

Headlining the Summit are renowned international and local investors – with leading African Angels representing over 20 local Angel networks and investors expected to attend from Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Kenya, Liberia, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Somalia amongst many others. At the same time, corporate partners like Orange Telecom, Google, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Ringier and Github will join the event together with senior representatives from the World Bank, the IFC, the AfDB and the EU.

Additionally the ‘Cape Town Innovation Tour’ on November 17th aims to give participants an on the ground introduction to the ecosystem, access to the entrepreneurs and leaders building the sector. Book your ticket for the tour on AAIS2017.com or contact the organisers for further details: [email protected]

About the organizers

The summit is organized by Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A), African Business Angels Network (ABAN) and South African Business Angels Network (SABAN). #AAIS2017 is powered by the Work in Progress! Alliance.

Event sponsors


Event name: African Angel Investor Summit 2017

Event theme: ‘Start-Scale-Exit, Funding great startup teams poised for global success

Event website: www.AAIS2017.com

Event hashtag: #AAIS2017

For more information, contact Thomas van Halen via [email protected] and David van Dijk via [email protected]


About Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A):
The mission of VC4A is to support the African startup community. VC4A is a network-building organization that started in 2007 and has grown organically over the years. The VC4A community has over 65,000 members in 159 countries, including 2.000+ investors. More than 10.000 entrepreneurs in Africa present their companies on the platform: early stage ventures that require investments of above USD 10K, but less than USD 2 million.
About African Business Angel Network (ABAN):
The African Business Angel Network (ABAN) is a pan African non-profit association founded early 2015 to support the development of early stage investor networks across the continent and to get many more (early stage) investors excited about the opportunities in Africa.
About South African Business Angel Network (SABAN):
The South African Business Angel Network (SABAN) is the non-profit, professional association for the South African early stage investor community. Established in 2016, SABAN represents a sector that plays a vital role in South Africa’s future, notably in the funding of Start-Ups. SABAN members fuel SA’s growth through the creation of wealth and jobs.

Tech trends taking over in 2018

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

Every publication focused on technology will provide extensive details about the latest electric car, the rise of artificial intelligence and the ever- imminent promise of the Internet of Things as an everyday part of our lives. While we wait for our self- driving vehicles and robotic assistants, there are tools and methods within reach which could have a great impact on the growth of small businesses.

With new disruptive trends coming up faster than we can refresh our news feeds, it’s easy for entrepreneurs to fall behind. Make sure you don’t miss a trend that could elevate the success of your business. If, by 2018, your business makes use of any of the below trends, you’re on the right track towards reaching a global standard.


As South Africans have become more comfortable with online shopping, the use of payment gateways have become a normal part of retail and trading industries. If you aren’t on PayPal or accepting bitcoins, you might be limiting opportunities to trade globally. The idea of managing finances completely online and beyond basic EFT might be overwhelming at first, so start with something as simple as SnapScan. Your customers are carrying less cash now than ever before, and will soon expect to be able to make payments online wherever they are, including shopping at a market or placing large orders from their boardrooms.


By now, your business should have a strong online presence. Your website doesn’t have to be perfect and your social media needn’t be award-winning, but it has to be up and running. If you can’t afford to allocate a big budget to digital agencies to market your business, there are many affordable ways to do it yourself. Click here for insights on 8 digital tools to manage your business on a dime. In 2018, Influencer Marketing is set to grow.

Word-of-mouth becomes word-online as customers share their experiences with brands and businesses on every social media platform available. Get to know the bloggers, journalists and other influencers who will enjoy your product or service, and give them an experience they want to talk about. Everyone is doing it, and you can too. When Facebook launches a new service, they give tech-centric celebrities first access before releasing it to the public. If you’re in the fashion business, send your latest designs to fashion bloggers. If you’ve created a new app, send links to the technology journalists so they can review it. Your own customers can market your business on your behalf if you give them the opportunity to do so.

“Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.” Mark Zuckerberg


This trend is well underway among the tech-savvy startups and big businesses of South Africa, and SMEs can benefit from digital management tools too. The standard office working hours are long gone, as companies realise the importance of flexibility if they want to keep their staff happy.

Technology allows team members to work remotely and still be productive, as long as those involved are disciplined. Gartner states: “By 2018, more than 3 million workers globally will be supervised by a ‘roboboss’.” While South Africans might not be ready for a ‘roboboss’, the use of time management systems like Trello and Chase keep everyone up to date and accountable for their tasks. Entrepreneurs can spend the day meeting clients and pitching their products with the certainty that they can track their staff ’s tasks and productivity at
any time.


The Great AI War of 2018

BY Fast Company SA < 1 MINUTE READ

On a recent Monday morning, Elon Musk busied himself on Twitter by predicting how World War III would start.

Inspired by news that Vladimir Putin had told Russian students the country that leads in artificial intelligence will rule the world, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO declared the global race to dominate AI might turn into real war—and that the first strike could well be launched by an algorithm rather than a flesh- and-blood leader. Chastised by one of his followers for the gloomy prognostication, he apologised and then confessed, “I was depressing myself too. 🙁 ”.

Musk is a techno-provocateur with few equals. However, plenty of people share his take on AI. Even sunnier forecasts about the future of AI, detailing how self-driving cars might radically reduce highway carnage, are typically too long-range to offer much of a sense of comfort.

Meanwhile, as everyone muses about where AI might take us, the technology has arrived. First given its name by scientists at a seminal conference held at Dartmouth College in 1956 (they had predicted that programmers would be able to simulate the workings of the human brain in just a few years), AI now has a pervasive and obvious impact, particularly when it comes to the branch known as machine learning and, in especially advanced form, as deep learning. AI is how Google Photos knows that two snapshots taken 50 years apart are both of your great-uncle. It’s how Facebook weeds spam out of your feed. It’s even how the iPhone ekes as much life as possible out of a battery charge.

… Read more in our latest edition IN STORES NOW


Dream as big as you can

BY Fast Company SA 6 MINUTE READ

It’s an old business truism that the best time to start a business
is during a downturn—and Anina Malherbe-Lan would agree. As founder and CEO of luxury brands marketing firm VIVIDLUXURY, she had some humbling experiences when the recession struck during her first year of business.

But in the time since, by staying true to her passion for luxury goods, the fine-arts graduate has forged a marketing tour de force—securing top names like Gucci, Bentley and Jimmy Choo as a matter of course. Ten years on, during a period when competitors have collapsed, VIVIDLUXURY has cemented its reputation as a leader in luxury brand marketing communications in Africa. In addition to winning the most coveted PRISM Award for its Belvedere campaign, VIVIDLUXURY held the first-ever event at the exclusive R100-million penthouse of the One&Only in Cape Town; achievements Malherbe-Lan professes she is “incredibly proud” of.

To add to an already impressive dossier, she also spearheads VDELUXE: a joint polo venture with Simone de Wet, MD for Val de Vie Events. The prize-winning pair and their team of experts have presented a number of world-renowned polo events including the Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo Cape Town which, on March 4, celebrated its seventh year. It’s a festival of equestrian sport and bubbly which has become a must-attend fixture on the Cape Town events calendar.

What has been the biggest achievement of your career to date? 
My biggest achievement was capturing and owning a niche in the market which, 10 years ago, no other communications agency really focused on as a speciality. Many luxury brands were only then starting to enter the South African market, and we decided to offer a niche service focusing
on localising their brand positioning. Another proud moment was when, after a seven-year joint venture, we decided to launch a new luxury polo brand platform called VDELUXE, which is co-owned by VIVIDLUXURY and Val de Vie Events, and spearheaded by myself and Simone de Wet. Together, our dynamic team of experts have conceptualised and executed more than 18 world-renowned polo events over the last seven years, including the Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo Cape Town, the Cintron Pink Polo, the Sentebale Royal Salute Polo Cup for HRH Prince Harry, the Coburg Polo Classic and many more.
It’s clear you have had tremendous success with your company, but have there been any challenges along the way?
I think the biggest challenge is to sustain the business. It’s easy to have one or two success stories, but to have ongoing success and an impeccable track record for 10 years is not that simple. It’s been a lot of hard work, sleepless nights and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Making the business viable, sustainable, and breaking through the glass ceiling is the most difficult part, but also the part that provides you with the best learning you can imagine.

How do you intend taking this year’s Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo to the next level?

We continue to reinvent and innovate every year, as this is what has made the event successful and one of the top polo and social events in Africa. This year we’re taking our PR and media campaign to the next level, particularly strengthening our media partnerships. We have an increasingly close partnership with our broadcast media partner, E! Entertainment, and this year we’re not only increasing our visibility across the E!, Universal and Studio Universal channels but we’re also for the first time (a first for Africa!) bringing out an E! News reporter from LA, Zuri Hall. E! will broadcast the event globally, and have an extensive E! Africa post-event campaign. In addition, we’re strengthening our digital and social media visibility, and aligning closely with our MC Nomzamo Mbatha, who has a significant following. We’re also excited about a new theme this year called “Clicquot Journey”. In line with Veuve Clicquot’s current global campaign, we’ll be showcasing various iconic cities in which the brand is enjoyed, such as Paris, New York, London and Tokyo to name a few. So, expect some interesting offerings by these cities, nd more, in terms of food, bars, décor and experiences around the polo. There are some exciting new sponsors on board this year— including Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vodacom, Guerlain, GHD and the new Ritz Hotel as hospitality partner—alongside long-standing event sponsors such as Ferrari, ISPS Handa and Shimmy Beach Club.
What is your role in all this? Are you very hands-on?
Yes, I’m very hands-on, as is my polo partner Simone de Wet. I’m a little OCD, so I like to see every little detail, but I’m essentially very involved in the conceptualisation process, sponsorship management and the marketing strategy.
Why Val de Vie Estate? Did you have any other locations in mind?
Our partner Val de Vie Events is based there, and the estate is the number-one polo and lifestyle estate in South Africa—the most beautiful location with all the luxury amenities one could ever hope for. We will never move the Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo away from there. For any Cape-based event, we will use Val de Vie Estate; for any other region, we’ll simply choose the best polo venue we can find in that particular city.
Sunshine and Champagne is a magical combination. How many bottles of Veuve Clicquot do you expect to go through?
We go through record numbers at the Veuve Clicquot Masters Polo every year. You’ll be surprised how much Champagne people can drink when there’s sunshine, exquisitely beautiful people and action-packed polo involved during a five-hour afternoon!
Watching world-class polo sounds like a superb way to spend a day, but how else will visitors be entertained?
We have a full programme of activities. Firstly, the Fashion Show is normally a big highlight, being centre-field, as is the Best Dressed Competition (judged by Elle magazine). The half-time divot stomping and Ferrari showcase, plus the After Party experience by Shimmy Beach Club are other big highlights. There’s not a dull moment during this action-packed day. We’ll also have food inspired by some of Veuve Clicquot’s most iconic cities such as New York, Tokyo, London and Paris, and games on the grass such as table tennis and pétanque.
Why are events like these important?
It’s a natural transition from the luxury communications business we created. With the current global trend for luxury brands to offer more ‘experience-based’ value to their customers, and the need for these brands to engage with high-net- worth individuals (it’s historically difficult to get face time with these kinds of customers and to find a platform to build relationships), it was an opportunity for us to take luxury brand marketing to the next level and to get to interact directly with these consumers. Our polo events offer all the right ingredients: a luxury lifestyle environment where the right people gather (for many, even the super-rich, this is also a networking opportunity) with just the perfect drink, food, décor and entertainment. You have a captive audience for at least five hours.
What attracted you to the game of polo in the first place? 
Getting involved in polo was a major vision for us; a new industry which, I thought, had a lot of potential for growth in South Africa. In the beginning, the industry was typically (as with many sports and industries in the country) dominated by an older white male fraternity—we were looking to change that as well. We furthermore felt that the polo events here weren’t up to standard, and certainly not in line with other top international polo events. If we wanted to change the perception of the industry, we had to make radical changes throughout: firstly, to the general event lifestyle that it offered and the quality of polo events in South Africa; secondly, to the target market that polo was attracting; and thirdly, in the way polo was marketed. Over the last seven years, we’ve generated close to R100 million in PR (media value) and created events that are every bit
on par with some of the best international polo affairs, particularly those in New York, LA and Dubai. Polo is the ultimate deal- making event. Gone are the days
of deals being made in conference rooms. Golf has been a favourite due to the serene atmosphere and the possibility of uninterrupted conversation. But we’re seeing that best of all is attending a polo match. Not only is the setting tranquil
but the premier lounges offer opportunity for conversation, and the sport attracts a wealthy mix of dealmakers.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be? 
Don’t limit yourself. A lot of people think too small; dream as big as you can, and find a way to make
it happen. Put together a solid business plan, make sure it’s sustainable, and go for it. There
will be many naysayers along the way, but just keep focusing on the target, and you’ll eventually achieve success.