Samsung pitches ignite Tech4Africa

By: Roger Hislop

Last session for the day, a bunch of start-ups pitched their businesses, some looking for funding, some looking for audience, and some just happy to get some gongs.

Each start-up gave a few minutes pitch, took a couple of questions, and then people voted on Twitter with a hashtag #ignite #t4a, and a panel evaluated and then picked a winner.

In order of appearance, the pitches were:


Online billing system to allow companies to sell online without needing e-commerce – or to handle their billing and invoicing online. The company is already selling to a global base, has customers all over the world in all tax jurisdictions and in all currencies. They’re looking to kick their growth up a notch, so are investing R1m of their capital and looking for a couple of mill funding.


This is an online assistant to answer your questions, or find you a service at R30-R50 a pop. There’s a number of these kind of concierge services. Lessfuss recons their differentiator in that they understand South African stuff (who is Telkom, what is “just now”), unlike, say, India-based services. They’re also building a useful database of questions and replies. It’s a kind of PA service, limited to a task that takes ½ hour or so that you can do on telephone or Google. Agents work through a software platform they’ve built, from home.


Publishing and the Internet have not reached each other. Traditional content management systems don’t do a great job – don’t really suit the publishing game. They’re currently providing a platform for M&G, Daily Maverick and another unnamed company. Systems like Drupal are too stretched, don’t work brilliantly for niches like online publishing. The pitch worked great for me as a publishing guy – people from outside the industry were a bit baffled by what it is they do. Trust me – publishing is a bloody tricky game, offline or on, and newsrooms and production teams need all the help they can get. Very niche.


This very neat system to allow you to plot a cycle race (or whatever kind of ‘travelling’, such as sailing, etc) in real time. This allows support people at the end of a bicycle race, for example, to see how you doing. It’s also historical: how you performed, fellow riders, clubs, etc. It also makes it easy to share your riding experience via social media. It is a very slick-looking product (waterproof, rugged unit with GPS and GPRS radio). Updates happen in real-time, you don’t need to upload later. It also has features such as crash detection to alert someone to an accident. In addition, it pushes to and from other devices – so you can stay in touch with teammates throughout an event. Sure, smartphones can kinda do this, but are not ruggedised. A big opportunity is to be able to have an entire event – tracked in real time for anyone to see the field as it progresses.


Usefulness vs. Confidentiality – a 360 review in Human Resources process gets a bit useless because anonymity stops a manager knowing useful stuff about someone with a problem, but without anonymity no one opens their mouth. FeedbackRocket acts as a proxy to allow conversations through a ‘virtual confessional screen’. It can also interrogate data, for example to allow you to look at people who “disagree” in a sample to find out what their problem is. The company is also looking at using the system for anti-bullying measures, and tying up with something like Built by an actuary, it also kicks in lots of analytics and other clever stuff.

Do deals faster by reducing contract processing time. iSign manages contracts signing, archiving and auto-review. Primary market is SMBs – these have lots of employment contracts, mobile phone contracts, etc. The joke the pitcher gave is that 21,000 registered attorneys must be doing something… iSign is faster, cheaper, greener by reducing the time delays and admin. The product will be sold through Incredible Connection, and also have a strong viral thread (every customer will essentially bring in a new customer), and there is a built-in affiliate deal for customers (anyone they bring in gives them back a small cut).


Someone think of the children. Mobiflock is for making smartphones safer for the children. It stops kids accessing inappropriate/unacceptable content, or even limiting hours of use. They are adding features like geo-fencing (alert if outside area). From the control panel parents can see what kids are browsing and the messages they are exchanging (with AI to look for grooming), with logs of where the phone’s been. A timetable function lets parents limit use to a particular time of day. The business is privately funded, but it’s looking for exposure and users.


75% of wine are purchased through supermarkets in South Africa, with 4,200 independent wine producers. The funny things is that all these guys are trying to reach the wine snobs. Wine review apps (like Platters) are full of bloody meaningless wine snob drivel that says little of value to the normal wine drinker. And that’s where realtimewine comes in. They have writers, and one in four reviews are user generated. Since most supermarkets are ludicrously unsuited to choosing wines, this app should be a winner (especially if you’re trying to choose something nice for a dinner party) So: scan your wine, or enter the name. You’ll get the community’s vote, as well as that of “favourite” top reviewers. And then it can add incentives: Golden Tickets that can give you free stuff, like discounts. They are also looking at sales online, plus a wine of the month type thing (chosen by your friends). And they can sell consumption details to retailers. A whole lot of revenue streams.

Stay tuned, winners to be announced tomorrow.

Samsung facilitates developers’ attendance at Tech4Africa

Samsung is inviting all mobile app developers to take part in this month’s Tech4Africa conference in Johannesburg and has made available 50 discounted tickets, representing a R4000 saving each, to facilitate their participation. Samsung is the Tech4Africa Ignite partner and has extended this offer in a bid to attract and help grow the local developer community, a key part of Samsung’s mobile business strategy.

samsung appsIgnite is an initiative that will allow African startups to pitch their products to a panel of angel investors, mentors and business leaders during the two-day Tech4Africa conference taking place at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg from 27 – 28 October. Samsung will also be running Samsung HQ Developer Support Sessions. These specialist app development workshops, hosted by leading international Samsung developers, will highlight global trends and best practice.

“Samsung aims to promote co-operation, innovation and the exchange of new ideas in technology across Africa so that our innovative products and technologies continue to respond to the real needs and conditions on the continent. It is with this premise in mind, that we are so excited about offering the discounted entry to developers who will undoubtedly benefit from participating in this year’s conference,” said Brett Loubser, B2C Apps Development Lead at Samsung.

“We’re using our partnership with Tech4Africa Ignite to inspire new directions and provide the technologies and gadgets that Africa requires. It’s about listening to the market, building partnerships and really committing to Africa and its people by providing them with relevant content and apps – for a smarter life.”

These objectives are closely aligned with those of Tech4Africa, and specifically its Ignite programme, which aims to highlight innovative new ideas and allow African startups to use Tech4Africa as a platform to gain valuable exposure, and even early stage investment.

Gareth Knight, founder and MD of Tech4Africa, said Samsung’s subsidisation of the tickets was a show of its commitment to both Africa and app developers, who do not have the same levels of market access available to their counterparts in the US and Europe. “Our vision has always been to create a local platform to which international experts and leaders are invited to share their knowledge and insight,” he said. “The partnership with Samsung is evidence of how that vision is being realised and how we can make a real impact in Africa. We hope to attract and uncover exciting talent through this unique opportunity.”

Developers who are interested in taking up this offer can find further details at The discounted tickets are available to qualifying developers for R1 500 excluding VAT. Applications for the discounted tickets are open until 21 October.

What to expect from Tech4Africa IGNITE?

***  Please forward to anyone, this is public information.
The more people know about this and the more competition there is, the better for everyone.

Who is it for?
IGNITE is for startups & ideas that need funding to go further, and who have the potential to be a viable, profitable business.
We think the local startup environment could be better, and want to help change it through better co-ordination.
We’re trying to help startups by giving them exposure in a credible environment.
There are c 40 startups in the running thus far.

Who are the judges?
Most of the judges have asked to remain anonymous, which we think is a good thing.
All judges will be in the audience for the presentations.

Who are the investors?
Most investors have asked to remain anonymous too. They don’t want to be swamped or mobbed.
If there are any that are OK with being seen as investors, they will be on the website.

Who are the press?
Everyone from TechCentral, Memeburn & Daily Maverick, to ITWeb, magazines and newspapers.
The pick of the crop will be at the conference covering everything.

What are the rewards / incentives for IGNITE?
All applicants will be put onto the website, and will be announced in a press release.
You get exposure, there will be press releases (2 of them – finalists and the winner), all presentations will go up online afterwards.
There will be interviews after the presentation for the winner.
If the winner manages to take their business further, then there will be a speaking slot in the 2012 conference allocated.

What is the process?
Submit your application, with a brief description and a logo (for the website).
We’ll review internally. The judges will vote on for the final 8.
The final 8 will be notified via email.
Applicants not selected will be notified by email.
There will be a practice session where everyone is invited to practice beforehand.
There will be an entrepreneurs, investors and mentors meetup after that.
The final 8 do their presentations on the day.
A winner is picked by the judges after all presentations, and then announced at the cocktail party.
The winner will be given free drinks all night!

What do we have to submit?
Our focus is on how you’re going to explain to 500 people why your company / product / opportunity is awesome, and why people should take notice. If you can’t explain your product in one sentence, then you have bigger things to think about 😉

Step 1: fill in the attached form (you’ll get it if you apply), so we can circulate internally and to investors / journalists for their information.
Step 2: make sure you have a working demo, or kick ass presentation to show on the day. If you’re a finalist, we will need to see this beforehand.
You ***have*** to present a working demo / product – wireframes, powerpoints with financial projections etc won’t be accepted.

What happens on the day? What is the schedule?
There will be a practice session for everyone before the conference.
The main event will be on the Thursday night, starting at about 5:30 pm.
There will be 8 presentations, of 5 mins max, including questions.

What do we get?
Each of the final 8 will get a single free ticket. All your colleagues qualify for early bird tickets.
Everyone who applies qualifies for an early bird ticket (given the criteria above).

Are there any other examples of what we should be doing?
Watch this, try and better it:

Who do we speak to if there are more questions etc?

What are the deadlines?
Deadline for submission is Monday 12th Sept, 9:00am Pretoria time. Any submission after that will be rejected.

The stuff we’re working on, but can’t promise right now:
Amongst other things, we’re working with a major technology sponsor for IGNITE, where we’re trying to get the following things done:
– tickets to SXSW 2012 for the winner
– hardware / tablets for the finalists
– exposure through the partners press network / app site if the finalist is a mobile play
– cash money (you might not need investors!)
– and more which would make you really excited, but which would get us into trouble for calling it too soon

There are also bigger plans afoot for the community as a whole – so my appeal to everyone is that if we can make this a success, then the bigger plans become easier.

May the best win 😉