PRESS OFFICE: UCT Graduate School of Business
The Solution Space, at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) is looking for 10 digital ventures to participate in the upcoming Winter School Venture Incubation Programme (VIP), which begins in September.
“This is an opportunity for innovation-driven entrepreneurs who are working on digital solutions to take their business to the next level,” says Sarah-Anne Alman, manager at the Solution Space. “The early-stages of a startup are so critical and often the least supported time in the life-cycle of a startup. We aim for maximum impact at this stage and for startups to leave our incubator with a thorough understanding of the fundamentals required for a viable solution.”
Run over three months with sponsorship and mentorship support from MTN, the Venture Incubation Programme provides participants with R300,000 worth of support. This consists of mentorship, advisory services, access to investor and corporate networks and workshops on business fundamentals such as marketing strategy and business model development. The programme has helped over 30 startups over the past two years.
MTN has shown significant investment in the startup ecosystem on the continent and this incubation programme is a key platform for the company to engage with the latest emerging startups working on digital solutions that address broad-based needs across Africa. Stephen van Coller, MTN Group vice president of digital services, data analytics and business development, says: “At MTN we are committed to driving the development of a bold new digital world. MTN’s dedicated teams are highly active in this Venture Incubation Programme to provide a strong connection between the startups developing the latest digital solutions and the expertise and resources existing within MTN.”
According to Kamogelo Kekana, co-founder of Akiba Digital, a mobile application for financial services and a current participant of the VIP Summer School, the programme really helps set up entrepreneurs for success. “One big benefit is how the programme integrates you into the Cape Town startup ecosystem.”
For fellow participant Rufaro Masiiwa, who is with Mkwereti, a data analytics platform for the agricultural sector, a highlight has been being challenged to test risky assumptions about business models early on during the five-day design sprint. “There is so much access to a wealth of support and business acumen, as well as legal, financial and marketing help on the programme,” she says.
The programme also offers entrepreneurs an invaluable opportunity to connect with other startups on the same journey says Dhanyal Davidson, from the Digest, a financial media startup for millennials as well as Prospa, a savings solution for low-income earning South Africans. “It keeps your energy high and gives you a sounding board when faced with both mental blocks and tough decisions.”
These and other startups who are participating in the VIP Summer School will showcase their business models at a Demo Day on 26 June 2018. “The event is designed to give them an opportunity to present to investors and corporate partners. It is also a chance for potential participants to come and have a look at what the programme is all about,” says Shiela Yabo, co-ordinator at the Solution Space.
Yabo adds that since the inception of the VIP programme two years ago, the standard of the programme continues to go up, with the level of entrepreneurs joining being also very impressive. To qualify, startups must be working towards building a sustainable Africa through digital solutions, be committed to their business full-time, and be a team of at least two members.
“We focus on the early stage of the development process. Our aim is to get a business model validated and to see what is needed to turn it into a startup that is sustainable and scalable,” says Yabo. The programme is aiming to reach innovators in fintech, IoT, edtech, agtech, e-commerce, entertainment and gaming, as well as healthtech.
Yabo adds, “One of the strongest aspects of the programme is connecting people within the right industry to networks for mutually beneficial relationships and collaborations. In many instances, that in itself, has been a major stepping stone to success for these participants.”
For more information or to apply to the VIP Winter School Programme visit http://gsbsolutionspace.uct.ac.za. Applications close on 1 July 2018.
To RSVP for the Demo Day: http://bit.ly/VIPSS18DemoDay