Renewable Solar PowerI do 100% believe in the energy supply of our future being all renewable and would have started a business in the (renewable) energy sector long ago, If I wasn’t totally committed to drive the #BeerRevolution forward. This “Energy is the new internet” article on Techcrunch is a great wake-up call to entrepreneurs showing some of the massive opportunities ahead. If you don’t prepare for a future with decentralized, renewable energy powering homes, businesses and self driving autonomous electric vehicles, you are definitely not prepared for the future ahead! There are as many nay-sayers, fossil-heads and nuclear believers today, as there were print-media lobbyists and brick and mortar believers 20 years ago and look at the ashes of their remains today. If you don’t believe the skeptics, but put your full force behind the energy revolution taking place right now and execute well, you can start building a future world leader in that exciting new sector from your garage starting today.

I don’t blog often, so what gets me to put this opinion piece up, that got nothing to do with beer? Every here and then I happen to discuss this topic with friends and acquaintances and people are usually just surprised about my passion for renewables as I am surprised to see how few people are aware of this massive opportunity ahead of us. Being born and raised German I always assumed solar must be much bigger elsewhere until I left Germany for sunnier destinations and realized, that my home country was by far the biggest solar market worldwide!

Since 2001 I’m invested in some wind and solar projects through the GLS bank (a visionary german cooperative bank focused on sustainability and ethics, led by my uncle Thomas Jorberg, who already drove around in electric vehicles 20 years ago), but I never managed to start a business of my own in the category.

In 2012 a friend acquired online rights to the incredible 2010 ‘The 4th revolution – EnergyAutonomy” movie, that featured Elon Musk, Hermann Scheer, Muhammad Yunus, and gives a convincing vision of a full switch to a renewable future for the whole world. We started conceptualizing the worldwide free online launch in the style of a grassroots campaign based on the mechanisms successfully demonstrated by the Kony 2012 campaign a few months prior to that. But my focus changed, no international approach was chosen and the ‘free’ donation based release never got traction, even though 90% of the video material was ready for international viewers, using a new speaker. Despite repeatedly attending the Clean Power Africa show at the African Utility Week, my focus changed onto my Beerhouse venture, where electricity only plays a role to serve the beer chilled down to the perfect drinking temperature. While living in Germany with the deregulated electricity market I always switched to an all-renewable-supplier like EWS-Schönau, but customers in monopolized markets like South Africa need need to build their own supply. I hope to soon use the solar crowdfunding platform The Sun Exchange, whose pitch won best of show award at Finance Indaba 2016, just before I spoke about equity crowdfunding to fund the solar installations that I hope to soon build on top of the roofs of my three current Beerhouse outlets and serve more solar cooled beers, as we open more branches around the country…

Update: The space has been let and I welcome Baked on Long!

Long Street Popup SpacePop-Up Store on Long Street with liquor license available immediately until end of January with the possibility to extend it’s life!

This unique store is ca. 100 sqm plus a small courtyard, is available immediately under very flexible terms and including a valid liquor license for on consumption!

The price? It depends… Depending on your offer it could be equity into your bar business – if there’s a kickass idea that can draw in the crowds to Long Street. As founder of the Beerhouse and Long Street Association I got a real interest to draw new and old crowds back to Long Street and do our part. The ideal partner would build an exciting destination business around craft spirits and mixed drinks, that complements the leading craft beer variety, that we serveat Beerhouse upstairs. Hipster credentials not required.

Please send a brief (2-3 pages) business plan, ideally with plans, pictures or mood boards and an intended timeline to randolf@beerhouse.co.za.Long Street Popup Space

See this 360° photo for a good impression – it’s shot standing in the existing divider wall, which can easily be removed.

Picture from the back of the store

Ground plan:Plan of Popup Shop / Bar at 219 Long Street

Beerhouse and Randolf Jorberg in the Weekend ArgusIt’s not often, that a journalist manages to listen and ‘get you’ in a way, that his writing describes you better than you could do yourself. But Michael Morris is one of these skilled writers and his article appeared in the Weekend Argus on 31st of October.

A dream of pulling the city a pint

From online business in Bochum’s ‘Bermuda Triangle’ to drawing a brew in the city

EMPORIUM: A veteran of the German online industry, Randolf Jorberg first came to Cape Town in 2007 and, since then, has enjoyed the freedom to realise ideas incorporating the best of two worlds. Bored with building yet another online business and excited by his OMClub party where every year more than 4 000 online marketers get together in Cologne, the idea for Beerhouse was born.
That’s not quite true in a strictly temporal sense, but he fell in love with the street in those first hours, spent the next few years living in the city for six months in every 12, and, eventually, in 2012, packed his bags in Bochum, his home town in the Ruhr, and settled in Cape Town for good.
Long Street was the lodestar, the street where, today, Jorberg presides over the landmark Beerhouse on Long, an emporium of ales and lagers and everything in between, which he dreamed up as a more or less phantom notion in a late-night reverie in a Heidelberg hotel room while holidaying with his South African girlfriend in the greater Rhine Valley. Not for nothing does he refer to himself on his calling card simply as “head dreamer”. Unlike most dreamers, though, this one is a doer of note.
He was still at school – on the Baltic coast, the source of his love of the sea – when he began his own online marketing company.
Returning to Bochum after scraping through his end-ofschool exams, he devoted all his energy to his internet business – gulli.com, which he later sold – and living life to the full in the heart of the city’s famed pedestrianised entertainment zone, dubbed the Bermuda Triangle (“because so many souls have got lost there”), a legendary café district that’s home to between 40 and 50 bars. If running his own shop was not a serious prospect at the time, his Bochum experience was a subliminal influence on his thinking about the possibilities and the mechanics of vibrant, well-run inner-city entertainment precincts. One ingredient that was missing in Bochum was the sea. “I started looking around for a place where I could live close to the sea, in a bigger city than Bochum, and where I could speak either German or English… because I was too lazy to learn Spanish or something like that. That’s when I came across Cape Town.” He visited, booked into that Long Street hotel, and his life changed.

Even after selling gulli.com in 2008, he earned his living through other digital businesses in Germany, including iPhone stores in Bochum and Berlin. Jorberg, in fact, became the country’s second biggest iPhone retailer. In all this time, though, as a keen consumer, he nurtured the somewhat romantic notion of owning his own bar. “My accountants kept warning me, ‘ Randolf… we can’t keep off-setting all these entertainment expenses’, and I’d always say: ‘ It’s market research, I’m planning to open my own bar.’ They never believed me.” Then came the holiday to the Rhine Valley, and an immersion in the region’s rich and varied beer culture, with wonderful bars that specialised in local beers. Was there any such thing in South Africa? He wasn’t sure, so impulsively contacted some friends back in Cape Town. Nope, they responded, there wasn’t really any such thing. “That got me thinking: well, why not?
“Later on, back at the hotel, I was a bit bored, and decided to register ‘beerhouse.co.za’ and then redirected that to a newly created Facebook page with a single line saying, ‘Forty different beers coming to Long Street’ and invited my Cape Town friends to ‘like’ it.” Over the next few days, the page garnered more than 40 likes, but Jorberg was still running his digital business and didn’t give the beer project any serious thought, not initially anyway. That changed when he suddenly became aware that complete strangers – a beer blogger among them, and someone’s “rugby mates” whom he had never met in his life – were “talking about a guy called Randolf who’s starting a beer house in town”. “As an online marketer, I know that the biggest challenge for any business is getting your idea out there, and that everything else hinges on that.” The phantom notion began to materialise, Jorberg began to look around for a site, eventually settling on the present one; the space was just what he needed – though a brand new office-style ceiling the landlord was very proud of was, Jorberg knew, “the first thing we would have to rip out”.
The lease was signed in November 2012, but it took until the second half of the next year to get the show on the road. It was only in March 2013 that he managed to pull together a team – and find his key beer expert (Jorberg’s “beer whisperer”), Murray Slater. The bar opened on International Beer Day in August. “It was busy from day one, and it picked up from there.”
Beer is not all that’s on offer, but it’s the speciality, an offering of some 140 different brands, 25 of them on tap, and 99 bottle- top beers. In all, between 80 and 90 percent of the fare is locally produced craft beer. There are also rare or limited beers – including, for instance, an imported oak-barrel aged tipple that goes for R400 a bottle – and low- or nonalcohol brands. At monthly “Meet the Brewers” sessions, there is also a focus on food-and-beer pairing accompanied by specially tailored six-course meals.
On the strength of the urging of some Joburg customers on opening night, Jorberg and his team opened a second Beerhouse at Fourways in Gauteng 11 months later. Today, with a staff of 110 – about 50 intensively trained “beer navigators” at each of the two shops and, on the face of it, a top-heavy management of 10 – the Beerhouse project is poised for dramatic expansion. “We are about to sign two more leases, one in the southern peninsula and one in the Joburg CBD, and our management team is looking at plans to build 20 more shops in the next two years. “It’s an ambitious plan, but we are building structures to support it. As part of that, we are looking at starting the first ‘crowd investing’ scheme in South Africa. Crowd investing is big in Germany, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work here. Effectively, it means making it possible for everyone to fulfil the dream of owning a bar, finding customers who are willing to invest and become shareholders in their local bar.” There were “regulatory issues” in South Africa, but Jorberg said he was confident they could be overcome. “If it’s such a popular financing method overseas, why should it not work here?” Bound up with Jorberg’s optimism is an acknowledgement that the entertainment business – in Long Street especially – is not without worrisome features.
This was brought home with tragic force when Beerhouse doorman, 32- year- old Congolese resident Joe-Louis Kanyona, was stabbed to death outside the venue one Saturday night in June. “That had a massive impact… to see someone’s life taken that easily. And something has to be done to make sure that does not happen again. Long Street is in a bit of a shaky state at moment because of security. That’s the big thing, and we need to change that for the better.”
Jorberg is a key figure in a new drive by local businesses to confront the security risks. Thinking back to his first enchanting experience of Long Street, he said: “We all have good memories of it, but the truth is, if you go today, you can have a negative experience… someone trying to sell you drugs, or trying to pick your pocket. And we and other businesses know that if we don’t act on this now, there won’t be any business here in a few years’ time.”

Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 KenyaMore than 1500 entrepreneurs and policy makers from all(!) over the world flocked to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya, from July 24th-26th. Due to my affiliation with the Ampion Venture Bus, I was privileged to be invited to represent Beerhouse and Springlab at this mega-event, hosted and (except flights) fully paid for by the US Government and sponsors.

The event was attended by US President Barack Obama, and several other well known figures and celebrities, amongst them Akon, Shark Tank judges, Miss Americas, etc. But first and foremost it was entrepreneurs from all stages of growth, self-made billionaires meeting rural farmers from Africa. Without knowing stats, I’d guess, that half of the audience was US American and Kenyan, while the rest of us were coming from all corners of the world, no continent left uncovered.

If you were now expecting a huge celebrity spotting event, you did not attend the right place. With the exception of Obama himself (who was obviously talking point #1 and closely guarded during his half day stay on the UN compound) they attended their panels and mingled with the crowds afterwards, but the strength of the event was the fact, that entrepreneurs from all possible backgrounds got together and spoke one universal language of creating progress, learnings, challenges, growth and opportunities together.

So I fit in really well with my Afrogerman background and could relate well – though I accidentally managed to stand out and got taught a lesson in personal branding:

Randolf at Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 in Kenya

My tailormade yellow suite that I purchased as a 200 US$ joke on my Thailand-India-Kenya trip earlier in 2015 turned me into something of a talking point, making me explain the yellow colour, that’s representing the Beerhouse brand colour. I really don’t ever wear a suit and my decision to take it to #GES2015 was based on the formality of the event and that my second and only other suit is not home in South Africa, but stored in my german apartment, in case of family funerals I might have to attend.

On day #1 I was dressed in jeans and repeatedly mistaken for my doppelgänger – the ‘White African’ Eric Hersman, who spoke on a morning panel.
On day #2 I was absolutely overwhelmed by the number of people approaching me and asking about the reason for wearing the full suit, leading into many interesting conversations and spontaneous photo shoots.
On day #3 this continued, but I was now also approached by people, who heard the story of a yellow german / south african / beer merchant / incubator / hospitality operator from others and approached me offering valuable introductions to beer or hospitality people or even an interest to license the concept.

This made I met another doppelgänger in red (who even got his shoes right!) and my tweeted picture of the United Colours of #GES2015Kenya went viral… Continue Reading…

TL;DR I recently became the advisor and Angel Investor for the Startup-Incubator Springlab. Springlabs launch announcement was already covered by Ventureburn and you can find a copy of our official press release below. Springlab is currently looking for investors (tickets starting at 100k) and motivated employees with a desire to experience all that Africa has to offer.

 

Springlab Südafrika Inkubator

The background:

South Africa has been my central residence for the last 7 years. Although the majority of my income during the first few years came from the developed market (Gulli-Exit & 3Gstore-sale with German speaking focus, and some English speaking online projects with US focus) I was active in the South African market from the start:

The acquisition of weather.co.za  in August 2007, a few months after my initial stay in South Africa, followed by the development of a substantial Domain-portfolio and a share in CapeTownMagazine.com  late in 2008 were my biggest investments and gave me a lot of insight into the Online Industry.

The arrival of Rocket Internet at the end of 2010 significantly aided the development of the online market and indirectly aided me as well: In my English blog I forecast the aquisition of Rocket’s entry into the market (that was only officially announced a few weeks later). This scoop provided me with many new acquaintances and an insight into the exciting and dynamically growing South African Internet scene, thanks to Rockets ventures like Zando and 5Rooms.  My good knowledge of Western Start-Up culture allowed me to recognize real opportunities for development and also just skeptical enough to avoid getting caught up in a hype.

Of course the possibility to create my own start-up was always in the back of my mind. Yelp for Africa, wine E-Commerce, Couponing für Africa – since 2010 I have considered these with different teams but could never find the passion, market or team of people that I needed to really devote myself to it.

The ideal position for someone with my portfolio would likely be as an advisor. Those that know me and the severity of my PowerPoint allergy and general ‘employability’ can understand why this was not a viable career choice for me. I am passionate about Beerhouse , keeping guests happy and working out global development strategies on a Friday night (often completely sober!) fills me with excitement and satisfaction.  The creation of internet based B2C Brands and Online Marketing Strategies on the other hand, does not awaken the same passion and enthusiasm in me.

In this whole time I have only met one team that has entered into the market with the realistic self-evaluation necessary to build a sustainable and successful business. Springlab is not just waiting for the luck of the e-Commerce lottery (and endless VC Rounds) to succeed, but instead actively concentrates on business models that can be successfully executed in a relatively transparent time frame and easily adapted to the local Market.  Between Eugen from Germany and his South African partner Sheraan, the combination of hunger and international experience is perfectly balanced. I can only say one thing about this team: I look forward to future work, new discoveries and mutual success – Prost!

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact Person: Eugen Petersen (Co-Founder)
Company Name: Springlab
Voice Phone Number: +27 21 448 0496
FAX Number: +27 86 660 5131

Email Address: press@springlab.co

Website URL: www.springlab.co

Springlab (www.springlab.co), a new technology incubator based in Cape Town is setting out to foster entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The founders of Springlab are Eugen Petersen (co-founder of Zando, Africa’s largest online fashion store) and Sheraan Amod (co-founder of Personera, a US-based venture capital backed firm), who bring diverse local and international startup experience to the company. Strategic advisor Randolf Jorberg (founder of Gulli.com, one of Europe’s largest online tech communities) is renowned as one of Germany’s top online marketers and brand builders.

“Entrepreneurship has been the engine for growth in the United States. Now Africa is on the rise and technology entrepreneurship should be at the forefront of it” says Eugen Petersen. “We are deploying the internationally successful incubator model to reduce startup risk and to spur this growth.”

The company settled into a converted warehouse in Observatory, Cape Town several months ago and has just opened a sales office in Rivonia, Johannesburg. To date, Springlab has been backed by private angel investors, and is now open for direct equity or convertible loan investments into the incubator and portfolio companies.

Springlab is geared towards lean, data driven startups that are scalable, and will avoid capital-intensive business models such as e-commerce. It also acts as joint venture partner for international technology companies looking to enter the African market.

“Springlab founds its own companies and is not an external investor or temporary accelerator” says Sheraan Amod. “We take on fewer projects, but stay hands on while the venture grows up. We’re a committed partner.”

The typical investment per venture for Springlab will be between R200,000 and R2-million including the use of the incubators core resources and services. Springlab often covers the full spread of a technology venture’s needs: strategy, product development, online marketing, sales, administration and later stage fundraising. Currently, Springlab is hiring across all areas.

The first venture of Springlab is RecoMed (www.recomed.com) – a site to find the best doctors nearby and book appointments with them. The service already features 4000 doctors and is free for patients. RecoMed was silently launched last December and already attracts 14,000 visits a month, is generating appointments for doctors on a daily basis and has a growing revenue base.

Springlab’s (www.springlab.co) doors are officially open. Prospective investors, founders, co-workers, interns and anyone else looking to crack an invite to their next dinner roundtable is encouraged to email them at join@springlab.co

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Beerhouse LogoWhat takes a well established Online Marketer to become a restaurateur? The truth is, that while I am still involved in quite some online activities, my Beerhouse is here to stay and about to branch to Joburg and beyond… I am very happy with our baby, that opened 8 months ago on August 2nd 2013 and – because that’s often a topic of my conversation – would like to share, how the idea of Beerhouse started during a trip to Germany:

brad-anonymized-beerhouse-historyOther than Babies, the Beerhouse concept took a solid 16 months from conception to birth. It was exactly two years ago on April 2nd, 2012, that I was sitting with my (then pregnant) girlfriend in a beer bar in Heidelberg, discussing the various available Beers and their stories and wondering why no similar place exists in Cape Town. Quick market research through text messages and Facebook followed and I realized, that there might indeed be a gap in the South African market.

Thanks to the pregnancy, we went back to the hotel quite early that evening and I reserved the most obvious domain name beerbar.co.za redirected it to a new Facebook page, invited my Capetonian friends and posted some beer related content, before going to bed.

I couldn’t be bothered to work on the Beerbar idea when we returned from our Eurotrip, as pregnancy and Jane and my work on the OMClub party took up all my time, but I did notice the friends congratulating me on the new bar business.

varnia-randolf-eliza-festival-of-beer

Beerhouse Team at the CT Festival of Beer 2012: Not in the picture: Jane

Just a few days after the birth of my daughter it happened: A family member told me, that some of his rugby mates asked him, ‘whether he heard about these mavericks, that were planning to open a beer bar with more than 40 different beers’. Beer blogger Joakim had written about us, although we had no location, no experience in the hospitality industry – we did nothing, but promise beer variety and I realized it wasn’t only friends & family, that liked my idea. We had planted an idea into peoples mind and they actually really wanted a beerbar with 40+ different beers! We finally started to seriously turn a drunk crackpot idea into a business.

restaurant-to-letEven without any experience in the industry, it is obvious, that a successful bar business starts with a good location and Long Street is where it’s at. After looking at smaller available vacancies, we finally called the ‘Restaurant space to let’ number, that we walked past so many times and found a fascinating venue we knew would work.

Few days after signing the contract for 223 Long Street we still had no real plan how to open a bar, but were ready to spread the word. We printed blue Beerbar T-Shirts and visited the Cape Town Festival of Beer, where we met all the brewers, that are now our best partners for the first time and we also found our vision: give our guests at the Beerhouse a 365 day a year beer festival experience and be the tasting room for the South African craft beer industry.

beerhouse-coming-soonWith the new name finalised we decided to not wait for a logo and the Artads artists painted the name, two beer mugs and the opening soon message on the building, that would stay visible way past the April due date we originally anticipated. We invited all our new beer loving friends to the Beerhouse fundraising & christening party and were able to collect more than R5000 in donations. With all this exciting momentum, we launched into 2013, knowing that our tiny team, wouldn’t be able to do it all themselves and would need to grow. Once again fortune was in our favour and Murray joined us after just returning to Cape Town from a career and his own restaurant in London

finding-murrayand the rest is history… 😉

Written for the Beerhouse-blog, to be continued over there.

Argus 2014 Fundraiser My successful 2011 NYC Marathon fundraiser made it clear: My business partners & friends like to see me sweat!

This article in german? Please go to my german blog!

Since then I also explored the beauty of the Cape Peninsula coastal bike routes and found out about the 109 km Cape Argus Cycle Tour – the largest individually timed cycling event in the world! As some of you may know, the Argus will be held on the 9th of March 2014 and I have decided to participate in aid of an organization called Mamelani Projects. I challenge you to get me onto the bike – Please donate your last penny or cent and remember that at the spectacular low exchange rate of R15 for a Euro and R11 for a US$ your donation looks impressive on the overview but harmless on your bank account. I linked all donors below and thank you all for supporting this cause! My legendary network reached the original R5000 goal in less than an hour and donated a total of R37725 (ca. 3500 US$ / 2500€!) in donations and helped South African disadvantaged youths!

Randolf Jorberg Cape Argus certificateI also managed to keep to my promise and I finished the 109 km Cape Argus in 05:05:58 hours – missing the 5 hour mark, and with quite some way for me to improve in the next few years, but some great impressions along the incredible route

Some background on the organization you’ll support: Mamelani runs a programme that consists of supporting young people in successfully transitioning out of state care at 18 years of age. Care leavers are said to be one of the most vulnerable groups in society, and without adequate support, after years of care and development, many face poor outcomes in adult life. Mamelani has developed an approach to working with young people, a process to support them in preparing for and facing life beyond care. The programme runs over 3 years, providing support prior to the transition, as well as continued support after leaving. Below is a message from Nkululeko, a 19 year old from Gugulethu, about how Mamelani has assisted him.

“I really didn’t think about having to leave Homestead one day. I didn’t take it seriously until I realised that I had to leave. I realised that I needed help! I didn’t know where I was going to go and what I was going to do. Mamelani helped me. You see these guys at Mamelani are like brothers to me and I get to talk about things that one would expect from a family. Mamelani gives people hope and that is so important because people lose hope when they are not supported. It gives guys leaving the children’s home an opportunity of making something different of our lives and not have excuses.

R4500 (that’s only €300!) allows one young person to complete a paid internship, providing them with the opportunity to gain access to the world of work, technical experience and money management skills. Together the Mamelani Movers Argus team would like to secure enough funds to allow 5 youth to be a part of this process. So come on and back me on my adventure. Together we can make a difference! If you wish to donate then please click on this link and follow the simple instructions. http://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/randolfs-mamelani-movers-argus-challenge

Argus Fundraiser 2014

Please donate to my Argus 2014 fundraiser!

 

OMClub 2013After opening the Beerhouse Cape Town on August 2nd, it’s now time to stay in Germany for the month of September. As it’s always difficult to explain my Hurra OMClub event to my non-german friends and why every year I start to overshare and post in german about OMClub and SEO contests, I’ll try to explain what it is actually about:

In September 2008 I launched a rather unusual party event and an accompanying Google ranking contest that is completely free to attend to people from the online marketing industry. It happens on the first night of the two-day dmexco digital marketing fair and started alternative party to the badly organized, expensive and boring official after-party. It is offering unlimited drinks (long, short, beer, wine, non-alcs, …), complimentary to the 1000 (in 2008) to 3000+ (in 2012) guests in an alternative unusual and exciting setting. Everything is paid for by incredibly generous companies who are keen to sponsor a party like no other (and to get their hands on some of the rare tickets 😉) They like the party so much, they even pay for the title rights to the event, online marketing agency Hurra.com did that now three years in a row – thank you!

OMClub dmexco party

The other thing, that always excites all SEOs (Search Engine Optimisers) in Germany ahead of the OMClub is the ‘traditional’ SEO contest, where one made-up keyword is chosen and the SEO ranking on #1 on the event date is walking away with a high-value price (usually a contract-free iPhone sponsored first by 3Gstore and then by Deutsche Telekom in 2011 and 2012). Expect this to be announced soon and look out for this tournament of google optimizers…

As demand for tickets always outgrew the size of the venue chosen, I now decided to do a big step. In 2013 the Hurra.com OMClub is moving into Colognes biggest indoor venue, the Kölnarena where we expect 4000+ guests for an event that is probably going to be Europe’s biggest (online) business party.

So if you wonder why I turned from Online Marketer to bar owner, the answer might eventually be:

I realized, I enjoy getting people drunk when organising my OMClub event… 🙂

When the whole city gets covered in snow and chaos and all sightseeing and party plans fall apart, it’s time for a time out – on the empty highway.

When 50cm snow falls and the country stands still someone needs to get moving.

Not too many know, that I’ve been involved with ICANN’s process of setting up new TLDs since 2009. With 24 days left to register and no initiative in sight to establish a .CAPETOWN for them I sent out this letter to the city and the press and hope to see a .CAPETOWN Top Level Domain come true in 2013, so the city can establish itself at the forefront of digital. This opinion of mine was printed in the Cape Times yesterday, but as it hasn’t yet been published online, I’m publishing it here.

Please comment, forward, tweet & Facebook this posting, if you support the establishment of this new TLD!

In the future, city governments, businesses and organizations will use web addresses that end with intuitive, localized domain suffixes like .joburg, .lagos and .denver rather than .za, .ng or .com. But for the moment, this opportunity can only be realized by a handful of the most innovative and forward-looking metros, such as .berlin, .london, .nyc, .tokyo and – if our leaders have the vision to join this exclusive club – .capetown.

 

For a limited time, until mid-April 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – which manages the registration of top-level domains (TLDs) – is accepting applications for new TLDs. Once the deadline has passed, it is not expected to open up the process again for many years.

 

I believe that the City of Cape Town should take this opportunity to spearhead the application for the .capetown domain. A successful bid will lead to significant branding, community-building and economic opportunities for the city, its businesses and its residents.

 

As a branding device, the early adoption of the .capetown domain would signal our claim to being a world class city. It would also say that we’re a cutting-edge creative hub of digital innovation and a uniquely worthwhile destination. These qualities would help the city compete for travelers, conferences, foreign direct investment and international knowledge workers. It would also add to the city’s growing brand profile, revealing that we are aware of our own value and are keen to enhance it.

 

The world is starting to wake up to the Cape Town brand as more films are shot here, more tourists visit and as we host more international events. Initiatives like the Silicon Cape, the World Design Capital and the Cape Biotech Initiative are all enhancing the city’s brand as well.

 

Unfortunately, everything online about the city falls under the .za domain, a suffix that has none of the branding benefits that .capetown does.

 

The main reason is because it is not intuitive. The .za suffix for “South Africa” does not make immediate sense for the online community. (The .sa domain belongs to Saudi Arabia, so we got stuck with .za, from the German “Zuid Afrika”.)

 

Second, the .za referent is too broad for activities, organizations or businesses that are based solely in the Mother City. These should enjoy a city TLD, matching their actual unique location, such as waterfront.capetown or myciti.capetown. The City, by applying for and adopting this virtual platform, would then be able to incentivize the local use of the .capetown brand in all digital communications.

 

As a community-building device, the .capetown domain would also allow people to proudly declare their membership in the metro. Businesses and organizations would gladly do so of their own volition, but the City could also democratize this possibility by offering every resident a free .capetown email account. Consider the impact: hundreds of thousands of emails each day would assert residents’ claims to the City. That would be a powerful statement of community.

 

Moreover, the .capetown domain promises greater commercial opportunities for local businesses and clients. Many companies already use the word “capetown” or “cpt” in their website URL, usually followed by .za. But the .capetown domain would render the overly-broad .za redundant.

 

Think about it: city TLDs make sense because cities provide the natural limits for most people’s everyday movements. It is in cities that people form communities, send their children to school, go to work and hang out with friends. It is also the natural unit for various work sectors, including the creative industries such as film production, graphic design and biomedical R&D. The .capetown domain makes better sense for most businesses as they operate from highly particular locales.

 

At some point in the future, when ICANN opens the application process again, other South African cities should seek their own domains, such as .joburg and .durban. But right now, the application process requires not only the support of each city’s governing authority and business community, but significant technical, administrative and financial capacity. ICANN’s requirements are formidable, guaranteeing that only the most far-sighted and administratively capable cities obtain them.

 

At this stage, due to the City’s energetic leadership and financial stability, Cape Town would likely be the only South African city that would be able to lodge a successful application.

 

Thus I urge Patricia de Lille and her team at the City of Cape Town to take advantage of this unique opportunity and apply for the .capetown domain. We would all benefit together from her decision to solidify Cape Town’s place in the digital age. With this act, she would confirm our status as the Gateway to Africa and promote our aspiration to be part of a globally connected citizenry.