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What to expect from an incubator AND a look at SA's newest tech incubators

A breakdown of the programmes, support network and incubatees


For many tech startup founders, the support offered by incubation hubs can mean the difference between growth and failure. Tech incubators play an important role in providing brick-and-mortar facilities, business development and acceleration as well as access to capital funding.

The increasing number of tech incubators point to a growing ICT sector.

A recently released report, South African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association’s 2015 Venture Capital Industry Survey, shows that ICT received considerable attention from equity and fund managers looking to invest in businesses in the period between 2011 to 2015.

The report also shows that the largest number of deals came from ICT-type sectors including software (26%), e-commerce (10%), electronics (4%) and media/entertainment (7%), together accounting for almost half of all deals reported, and that software is receiving a great deal of attention from new fund managers due to the rapid growth in startup businesses targeting the digitisation opportunity.

Beyond incubation

Co-founder of YueDiligence, a due diligence platform for business owners, and Knife Capital a venture capital firm and accelerator, Keet van Zyl says entrepreneurs who are trying to decide which incubator is best suited for their startup need to conduct a proper due diligence on the incubator and talk to past incubatees.

"Look at what happens ‘beyond incubation’," says van Zyl. He adds that entrepreneurs should not define "incubator" too narrowly, "There are many great entrepreneurship development programmes and partnerships that include corporates, mentors and funders, he says.

"At the end of the day, the best thing any incubator can give a startup is market access, the rest of the stuff is just to prepare the startup on how to best take advantage of those market access opportunities," van Zyl says.

We take a look at 3 of the newest tech incubators in the country and what they offer technopreneurs in terms of the programmes, level of support and incubatees.



Launched: 2014

Location: Cape Town

About: Sw7 (Start with Seven) is the largest mentor led tech innovation accelerator in Africa. Founded by tech entrepreneur and former Founder's Institute (Fi) Johannesburg director, Keith Jones, Sw7 combines mentorship, lean startup methodology, peer support and experiential learning to give one of the most exciting accelerator programmes in South Africa.

The incubator has also joined forces with Microsoft BizSpark and some of the best Cape Town tech entrepreneurs as coaches and mentors.

The programme: Sw7 provides a number of programmes incorporating group and individual mentoring sessions. Areas of focus for tech founders and investors include strategy execution, legal, IP and branding, go to market strategy, funding and investment for late stage ideation to launching, growth and exit.

Incubatees: Incubatees include Lifestash, a digital will storage company that aims to assist with online account closure or handover, sharing of policy and medical details and funeral plans.

Ama Coupon, a point of sale transactional platform provider that aims to be a point of communication between a p.o.s machine and a mobile phone.

MyDigiVault, a free online personal asset registry and planning tool that enables users to proactively organise and securely store and share important personal, financial, legal and health information.

Rise Africa Techlab Africa

Launched: 2015

Location: Cape Town

About: An accelerator for fintech and health tech startups. The accelerator is a collaboration between Barclays Africa and Think Rise Africa, a community for open innovation.

The programme: The 13-week programme provides access to players in the ecosystem. Other services include: access to relevant data sets for use in proposition testing and build out, direct feedback from target user groups, strategy development and pitch coaching from expert VC mentors as well as senior Barclays Africa executives and an opportunity to become a supplier to Barclays Africa. The programme offers participation in a leadership programme featuring meetings with senior executives, investors and experienced entrepreneurs, together with workshops and panel discussions on topics such as procurement, technology architecture, financial regulations, Intellectual Property strategies and industry trends. 

Incubatees: A total of 10 incubatees are chosen. Some examples of health tech incubatees include: 30DayHealth, a mobile technology providing integrated patient engagement solutions surrounding key points of care.

Consent is a block chain powered personal smart key that empowers personal information and enables people to connect globally with trust and guaranteed privacy.

RecoMed is an online healthcare booking platform enabling patients to easily find, book and review all types of healthcare practitioners online.

In fintech they have, Intel World International, a digital commerce and financial services platform connecting digital wallets, bank cards and crypto currencies with any device and Invoice Exchange, the web-based platform supports and enables SMEs that supply blue-chip companies and government to sell their invoices and purchase orders on an exchange and attain immediate payment.

Standard Bank Business and Technical Incubator

Launched: 2015

Location: Johannesburg

About: The technical incubator, housed in Resolution Circle Towers, in collaboration with the University of Johannesburg, is fully funded by Standard Bank. This facility provides entrepreneurs with access to technical support on manufacturing, design, 3D printing, patenting, and design support and new technologies thereby enabling rapid prototyping.

The programme: The new incubators are Standard Bank-owned brick-and-mortar facilities where entrepreneurs can test, develop, and deploy their innovations with personal guidance from the bank’s innovation and enterprise development partners. The support provided includes business development, acceleration and help with design and prototyping of products, which is normally a major barrier to entry for entrepreneurs.

Incubatees: Incubatees in the Standard Bank Business and Technical Incubator includes  iShack Digital, a management consultancy specialising in innovation. iShack's venture builder develops tech-based products focused on disrupting the property industry, security industry, and big data.

Equi Daisan actionable analytics company that enables collaboration of stakeholders on our WellMatix Analytics Platform, providing information, insight and the ability for individual data access.

Payloada mobile app that serves as a demand aggregator for all transport services in SA. It creates convenience for the consumer, increases efficiency and revenue for service providers with two-sided marketplace for buyers ans sellers of transport and logistics services.

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