On June 29, we hosted the final round of the Seedstars World South Africa start-up competition – the world’s largest start-up competition in emerging markets. The winner was Essential Medical Guidance (EMG) Tech, an innovative Cape-based company that supplies a comprehensive medical database to medical professionals. Born in Switzerland, Seedstars allows community-focused start-ups the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs, while also exposing them to the broader international business community, whose members may wish to invest in a start-up, or help introduce their services in other parts of the world. The competition attracts more than 5 000 entrants, and, on the day of the finals, about 200 people attended with a record of over R2 billion in investment capital represented.
What made this event truly noteworthy was the wide scope of entrepreneurial ventures being developed by tech-savvy South Africans. The start-ups were also widely representative, with four being female founded or co-founded and five with black founders. Ten of the best early-stage start-ups were invited to pitch to a panel of judges and potential investors in the audience. On the panel sat Jayshree Naidoo, Head of the Standard Bank Incubator, a space designed to continuously assist SMEs through a series of customised workshops that run throughout the year. EMG Tech won the opportunity to attend the Seedstars regional summit in Mozambique and represent South Africa against other emerging-country start-ups at the Seedstars Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland next year, where the global winner will be awarded up to USD 500 000 in equity investment. EMG Tech’s major market offering is EMGUIDANCE, a product that, among other services, details pharmaceutical offerings, their uses, prescription information, and care coordination information to medical professionals free-of-charge through their personal mobile devices.
The first and second runners-up are Zlto and Empty Trips Pty Ltd, respectively. Zlto is a digital rewards platform that incentivizes its users for positive behaviours, promoting the doing of good. Empty Trips is Africa’s first online smart transport marketplace connecting transporters, brokers and shippers. The other startups invited to pitch were GreenFingers Mobile, mbora, CommuScore, Muzi, Invoiceworx, Lenoma Legal, and Home Farm. Our partnership with Seedstars and its local ambassador, Vuyisa Qabaka, is a natural extension of our involvement in the development of the SME sector at all levels. According to Mrs. Naidoo, one can confidently say that innovation and entrepreneurship are alive and thriving in South Africa, with more than 600 companies in South Africa presenting their ideas to Seedstars this year as proof.