Startup Knight contest aims to grow SA tech firms

2013-10-11 10:05
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - South African technology start-ups are being challenged to enter a competition that could see them grow their businesses and earn thousands in prize money.

Byte Orbit is running the second edition of the Startup Knight competition designed to support local start-ups.

The company says that the contest is unique in that ongoing support is provided to the winners.

The start-up industry is fraught with challenges and has a reputation for attracting strong personality types who often have set ideas about the technological direction their companies should take.

This can often make it difficult for funders to work with them.

Relevant applications

"The start-up is going to be in relationship with investors for a long time. There will be tough times and dark days in between the good ones.  We need to know we can work with you in these times. In short you need to pass the Australia test - If I heard today that I would be stuck next to you on a 25 hour flight to Australia, how would I feel?" Brett Commaille, CEO of AngelHub told News24.

"There's far too much of this cultural cagey feeling between funders and start-ups," added Wesley Lynch, CEO of Realmdigital.

It is vital that entrepreneurs have the support to create relevant applications for the local market and tech incubators have emerged as an ideal vehicle to foster this environment.

"My goal is to hit about 50 investments by February next year. Then I will look at the portfolio to ascertain if this model is working for me. Initially I have set aside about a $1m for this very early stage funding," said Kresten Buch, managing director of 88mph, an incubator based in Cape Town.

He added that in addition to funding, mentoring support for critical to ensure that a start-up had the best chance of success.

"All start-ups have been excited about the mentoring sessions. Mentoring is about getting market feedback for the entrepreneurs and building a network."


The Startup Knight competition is divided into two phases. In the first, there is a R100 000 cash prize for a concept phase dubbed "Moneypulation" where ideas are judged on their viability.

The company however, will own the winning ideas at the conclusion of the competition.

In the second phase, "Startup Phase", the winner will be decided as the one with the software tool that can most disrupt the tech industry in SA.

Byte Orbit will partner with the winner as well as take 15% equity.

The Startup Knight competition closes on 24 October, the finalists will be announced the next day and the winner on 2 November.

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