SA tech startup skills 'found wanting'

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James Coetzee, co-founder of Empire State. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
James Coetzee, co-founder of Empire State. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – Few South African startup entrepreneurs have the necessary technical skills to develop software capable of delivering their vision, says an industry insider.

While SA has a number of companies in the tech startup scene, local business owners are often at a disadvantage because of a skill shortfall, says an expert.

“Maybe startups in SA have great ‘business’ minded founders, but far too few have solid technical skills to handle the many components that make up a software company,” James Coetzee, co-founder of software development firm Empire State, told Fin24.

“It's tricky to find individuals who excel in both, for example, back end data base type development, and front end web development,” he added.

Empire State, itself an 18-month old startup, has launched a contest where it will provide free software for startups, including web or application development with no strings attached.

Intellectual property

READ: IT pro social network launched in SA

“We have very strong agreements in place with any client we build software for. They are the owner of that intellectual property and obviously we have huge respect for that - these are the guys who pay our bills and thus we do our best to make sure they're properly protected,” he said.

The company has worked with large corporates such as Barclays and in fields ranging from medicine to augmented reality.

Coetzee said that they were focused on building the South African tech ecosystem in an environment where startup founders were often cash-strapped to produce applications fit for purpose.

“Anyone with a great idea and ambition to change South Africa for the better. They could be a social enterprise or a commercial entity,” Coetzee said of startups that would qualify for the offer.

The contest will run until July 20 when three winners will be chosen.


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