Archives For South Africa

Great news for Stephan Ekbergh and for South African entrepreneurs hoping to make it big! My Friend Pip just found this story: eTRAVELi acquires the european arm of their competitor Travelstart - this adds just another success story to serial entrepreneur Stephan Ekberghs biography. While Travelstart had sales of approximately ZAR 1.5 billion in Europe during 2009 eTRAVELi and Travelstart together are now expected to sell 5 billion (Rand and Swedish kronor are nearly on par) worth of travel in 2010. The sales price is not disclosed, but Stephan blogs about his motivation to sell the european operation on his personal blog and that he wants to completely concentrate on the emerging markets and he realised that he had to let go of the european arm of his 'baby'.

Reportedly brokering 50,000 flight bookings a month on the South African Travelstart platform alone, Travelstart is a travel giant on the tiny e-commerce market of South Africa and I do seriously hope that this is not the last positive news we hear from this travel powerhouse, operating from Cape Town.

Update: after receiving confirmation and further details from Stephan via this comment, I rewrote the posting and clarified the separation between Travelstart Europe and Travelstart South Africa. Official confirmation can be found on the Travelstart blog where they confirm: "The deal means that Travelstart.co.za will own the rights to the global Travelstart brand, and that eTraveli takes over the European brand management and all its operations there."

Google's approach of rolling out their technology gradually throughout the world showed great success when conquering western markets and seemed to work OK for africa aswell. No other search engine had it's user interface translated to Zulu, Afrikaans and Xhosa years before they opened an office in South Africa or any other African country and still today there's no competition within sight.google-multilingual

Back in the very early Google years using voluntary user contributions with their Google in your Language service and is constantly adding new languages. But there seemed to be weak spots where Google was not able to roll out it's infrastructure on a global level in other fields, because they involve too much professional local knowledge and infrastructure and this is where I was delighted to see some real progress in the last months:

Google Mapmaker allows people to edit and contribute to maps in countries where no professional map making company has gone before. The (infrastructural and marketing) power that honorable open source map projects like openstreetmap did not have meets usability and the result is great map data for all countries in Africa.

Today there was now the big news (via TC): Google launches SMS based services for the ugandan internet community. Some of these services like Google Trader (think of Craigslist/gumtree/kijiji simplified and via SMS only) are build exclusively for Google Africa and I'm sure we'll see them rolled out and succeed in many african markets soon. The initiative carries the Google logo, but was initiatiated by the Grameen Foundation and MTN and they describe it as:

"The suite of five mobile services, provided using Google SMS Search technology and the MTN network, includes Farmer’s Friend, a searchable database with both agricultural advice and targeted weather forecasts; Health Tips which provides sexual and reproductive health information, paired with Clinic Finder, which helps to locate nearby health clinics and services; and Google Trader, which matches buyers and sellers of agricultural produce and commodities as well as other products. The services are SMS-based and designed to work with basic mobile phones to reach the broadest possible audience."

My personal perspective is that education driven by technology is going to be the THE MAIN source of development in Africa and I love seeing google use it's market power to help development to those who need it most. I'm looking for ways how I can personally contribute my knowledge to efficient projects in this area and I urge anyone with the killer idea how to bring knowledge to Africa to share his ideas... Not only this video shows that it's going to be the mobile phone that's going to bring development to Africa:

If you read my social network statuses around October 6th: I'm happily back in South Africa and I intend to stay here for all summer, do lotsa business and live life. I'm not alone anymore, but returning with my Girlfriend Scarlett and into our new house in upper Greenpoint that kept us busy during the last two weeks while watching the construction work for the worldcup stadium below us. I hope to see alot of you at our house warming party this Friday - nudge me for the directions if you wanna come...

If you can't make it I'm sure I'll see at least all Online Marketing Junkies of you at this months 27dinner ;-)

We're happy to announce that we've finally launched the new weather.co.za. We just started with a basic 5-day weather forecast service that gives you the weather for more than 90 locations in South Africa without the need to sign up for anything or deal with excessive advertising.

This site is just a semi-temporary solution while we're taking time to develop the final Weather site with international weather data, mobile access, widgets, email subscriptions, RSS feeds, and much more but this will take some months and we wanted to build a useful site until we're ready with the final site. Weather.co.za is already visited by more than 400 Visitors every day. This is why we bought the site saweather.co.za and used their code and developed it into the current site.

We'd be happy to see you using and liking our first Weather site and welcome feedback in the comments or on the weather.co.za WeatherSA Facebook page.

We've currently got the weather data for these cities and places in South Africa:

Alexander Bay, Aliwal North, Badplaas, Beaufort West, Bela-Bela, Bethlehem, Bhisho, Bloemfontein, Calvinia, Cape Point, Cape Town, Cape Town International Airport, Clanwilliam, Cradock, De Aar, Durban, London Airport, East London, Ermelo, Excelsior, Fauresmith, Ficksburg, Fort Beaufort, George, Giants Castle, Graaff-Reinet, Grabouw, Grahamstown, Graskop, Groblersdal, Hermanus, Ixopo, Johannesburg, Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport, Joubertina, Kimberley, Klerksdorp, Kokstad, Komatidraai, Kroonstad, Kuruman, Ladysmith, Lephalale, Levubu, Lydenburg, Mafikeng, Malmesbury, Margate, Mokopane, Mooiriver, Mthatha, Musina, Nelspruit, Newcastle, Ngqura, Oudtshoorn, Paarl, Phalaborwa, Piet Retief, Pietermaritzburg, Plettenberg Bay, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Postmasburg, Potchefstroom, Pretoria, Queenstown, Richards Bay, Riversdale, Rustenburg, Sasolburg, Skukuza, Slangkop, Springbok, St. Lucia Estuary, Standerton, Stilbaai, Strand, Sutherland, Taung, Thabazimbi, Thohoyandou, Tzaneen, Uitenhage, Ulundi, Underberg, Upington, Vereeniging, Vredendal, Vryburg, Vryheid, Welkom, Witbank, Worcester.

Please report if your place is missing in this list.

The future looks bright for tech-startups in South Africa. My friend Thomas Promny sent me the news via email before I saw it on Jens Kunaths Blog (who also lives in Cape Town half the year) today: Hasso Plattner Ventures did just setup an 30 million Euros Venture Capital fund "aimed at early stage companies, not those within the seed stage". This fits very well into my plans. I intend to invest some of the funds I got from selling gulli.com not only into my own south african projects (weather.co.za being only one of them) but also to help young entrepreneurs to startup their own online-based businesses. But being a seed capital / angel investor alone will not work if there is no infrastructure to support ventures that grow beyond that size and this could be where Hasso Plattner Ventures steps in.

sunsetMy company in Germany has a proven track record for building high-traffic customer-oriented Portals in various niches and we'll start using this experience help others to grow on the South African market as well... In March I'll be back in Cape Town and I hope to meet the first potential partners, though I'll mainly be there for some well-deserved vacation... :-)

Randolf in Cape Town

November 20, 2007

It's now more than a month that I arrived back in Cape Town and lots of things happened but I never got a blogpost ready to talk about these events.

Sunset view from my home officeLife here is as different (compared to Germany) as it is beautiful. While productivity is seriously decreased by the lack of instantly available internet-connectivity (Vodacom's HSDPA is the best compromise I was able to find but it lacks speed and reliability to be used for VoIP and permanent connectivity), this wonderful people and scenery of Cape Town more than compensate for the problems I might be running in. Cape Town really is THE city in Africa to be, when it comes to Online Marketing. I was meeting old and new friends in Cape town, specifically at these events:

Podcamp Cape Town on the October 20th was great for me as a first-timer. I met Dave Duarte for the first time and had a great chat with Chris du Toit, Rafiq (of webaddiCTs) and many others. It's good to see that there's a vibrant internet scene here in South Africa. It was here that I first announced the aquisition of the domain name weather.co.za (still without real content) and that I do plan to develop it into a proper weather portal as soon as possible.

The 27dinner in Cape Town just a few days later really showed the size of the online marketing industry in SA. Around 100 people came together to have dinner, talk and listen to the well prepared presentation on user experience by Phil Barret and having to go through that talking thing myself by giving a short speech on my last 9 years in the online marketing world. I was happy to sponsor the corkage at this event so we could enjoy the wonderful Stormhoek Wine. This was a good opportunity to meet new people and I really look forward meeting and doing business with you again. After meeting oh-so-many people there (if I'd start linking and mentioning you, I'd miss out the other half of you) Marcus (of Capetownmagazine.com), Jayx and me decided to end that night at the fabulous Rafiki's.

After some busy working days there are some upcoming events I'll attend. First there is mobile and broadband conference AfricaCom starting tomorrow that I was lucky to get a press pass for and there's the Geekdinner coming up on November 28th where I'll be present as well. Too bad I'll be travelling Namibia, when *Camp (aka Starcamp) hits the town December 8th and 9th. Before I go to Namibia, I'll visit Johannesburg for a few days, and I'm happy to meet new people from the industry over there...