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

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!

 

Please read my more recent OMClub posting on randolf.jorberg.com/omclub/

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.

Disclaimer: I write this as the owner of weather.co.za – a privately held weather forecasting site that has definite plans to extend it’s offerings to launch and produce it’s own weather forecasts and warning data very soon. The weather bill can and will be used by the South African Weather Service (SAWS) and it’s heavily connected private sister-company Weather Intelligence Systems  (Pty) Ltd. to fight off private competition as my site could become.

Less than a week before the final hearings, the proposed SA weather service amendment bill, 2011 does finally make some headlines and gets attention by the DA MP Gareth Morgan, FW De Clerk Foundation and many other affected parties.

“Only the Weather Service may issue severe weather-related warnings over South Africa in order to ensure that there is a single authoritative voice in this regard.” 

is what the South African Weather Service Act already says since 2001. As if this questionable decision, that lacks any legally binding definition of a ‘severe weather-related warning’ isn’t enough the new amendment is now supposed to add the following section 30A that reads:

(1) No person may
(a) issue a severe weather or air pollution-related warning without the necessary written permission from the Weather Service;
(b) supply false or misleading information about the Weather Service;
(c) unlawfully, intentionally or negligently commit any act or omission which detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect the Weather Service.

(2) A person who contravenes any provisions of subsection (1), is guilty of an offence and is liable, in the case of a first conviction, to a fine not exceeding five million rand or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding ten million rand or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or in both instances to both such fine and such imprisonment, respectively.

As the SA weather service amendment bill is so outrageous and wrong, I just sent the following letter to the parliament, just in time for the public hearing, that I will attend January 17 and 18:

I heavily object to the new weather service amendment bill and ask parliament to review essential clauses to understand what this bill does to any legitimate competitor to South African Weather Service (SAWS) or their licensing customers:

  • South African might become the first country in the world where there is a state guaranteed monopoly for weather services. In my humble opinion does South Africa not need less, but more competition to guarantee a better forecasting quality, than we currently get.
  • The SAWS must by law adhere to The World Meteorological Organization Resolution 40 that urges Members to: “Strengthen their commitment to the free and unrestricted exchange of meteorological and related data and products” and specially states in Annex 3The purpose of these guidelines is to further improve the relationship between NMSs and the commercial sector. The development of the exchange of meteorological and related information depends greatly upon sound, fair, transparent, and stable relations between these two sectors.“. This bill clearly does NOT help fair relations between SAWS and private competition!
  • The bill does not define “Severe weather warning”. SAWS can use to scare clients by way of fine if they use any other forecast service other than SAWS and thereby creating a monopoly. Also, what would be considered “false” information? There is no 100% accurate weather forecast.
  • SAWS already acts and markets themselves as “The ONLY accurate source of SA weather” and take a very similar stance when negotiating with third parties over licensing terms. Their self-conception is NOT matched by their accuracy and I hope to bring some fresh competitive comparison with me to the parliamentary hearing next week.
  • The insertion of Clause 28A is also of great concern. The minister can change the act without going through parliment. Really not fair since this can change legislation even further to keep competitors out.

The offenses clause and clause 28A in the Bill needs to be removed and I ask parliament to rethink the current policy on “one single authoritative voice” in regards to severe weather warnings.

kind regards,
Randolf Jorberg
owner of weather.co.za

3Gstore.de sold for 135 000 Euro

Randolf —  October 5, 2011

German blog: 3Gstore.de nach Bieterkampf für €135.000 verkauft

This news was supposed to break with a (german languaged) press release by Sedo, but as a domainer blog broke the news I don’t want to be quiet: The iPhone store 3Gstore.de that I started in 2008 was sold to Avazu group’s Teebik Inc for 135.000 € (ca. 180.000 US$) through the broker house Sedo.

The blog was saying we sold only a domain name, but it was all the existing assets of the former 3Gstore.de GmbH. We even opened the worlds first iphone only brick and mortar store here in Germany and generated a turnover of more than 15 million Euro in total. 3Gstore.de still has more than 2000 unique daily visitors and transaction, even though we announced the sale and shut down two months ago. In short: we didn’t sell a domain name, but a whole online shop / brand / business with a complete domain-portfolio (3G.de, generic and typo-domains) organic search traffic and lots of customers that are eager to return and order again…

There are lots of stories about all the successes and failures I experienced in the last three years, but I can honestly say: it was an awesome experiencing to start an e-commerce business from scratch, learn ALL aspects of starting and growing  an online business from zero to 1 million € monthly turnover and I’ll be glad if the next three years have a bit less excitement for me…

People who know me, know that I’m 1. into domain names (owning quite some .co.za them, not only weather.co.za, (fly-)nationwide.co.za and runner.co.za 🙂 and 2. into stats so I wanted to share some findings that I found to be pretty interesting.

Previous stats on SA webhosting marketshare had a serious flaw: it covered only 70,000 COM, NET, ORG, BIZ, INFO domains, that were hosted in South Africa while my research covers all 643,453 .co.za domain names, that are registered as of June 1st, 2011. My research does also include .co.za domains hosted overseas, as many clients avoid local companies and use cheap international webhosting companies with unlimited bandwidth offerings.

See the 50 biggest co.za domain hosting Companies:

co.za webhosting companies

I published the full list of the 50 biggest domain hosting companies / nameservers on http://randolf.jorberg.com/web-hosting-south-africa/ and I intend to update it regularly.

Methodology: This research is based on the number of .co.za domains registered to your nameservers. If you are a reseller or you are using someone elses nameservers I have no way of finding out about you. While my research covered the 100 most frequently used nameservers, I might have missed some nameservers from companies whose aggregated numbers would’ve made it to the list. I found companies with up to five nameserver-sets but I can’t guarantee completeness of my current list. I ask companies or clients who notice that there’s a discrepancy to their own count that you contact me and I’ll update the data ASAP.

Update from 2014: Since writing these blogposts on angel investments in South Africa in 2008 and 2011 I became an advisor and Angel Investor at Startup-Incubator Springlab. Please pitch your startup to Springlab, if you’re looking for hands on investors and advice!

Original post from 2011: I first wrote about Angel Investments in South Africa back in 2008 and I’m happy to see that there’s now a local movement starting, that’s based in Cape Town.

Craig Mullett from Branison Group LLCThrough Alex Fraser and Roger Norton from the awesome Silicon Cape initiative I received an invitation to an Angel Groups seminar by Craig Mullett from the Branison Group at the UCT Graduate School of Business in Cape Town. The seminar focused on the research topic of bridging the missing middle in entrepreneurial finance in South Africa through developing angel investor networks. It gave an overview of the research on how these groups work in the USA as well as research ideas on how this could be done in South Africa and I’m happy that I was given permission to publish it here on my blog:

Angel groups in South Africa (PDF Download)

To my knowledge, this was scheduled to released on Friday, but Groupon Inc. just issued this press release, where they announce:

CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Groupon (http://www.groupon.com) announces the launch of Groupon India, Groupon Israel and Groupon South Africa via acquisition of daily deal sites SoSasta (http://www.sosasta.com), Grouper (http://www.grouper.co.il) and Twangoo (http://www.twangoo.co.za), respectively. Terms of the deals were not disclosed. […] The acquisitions continue Groupon’s rapid global growth and extend its reach across India, the Middle East and South Africa. In just three months since launch, SoSasta has grown to run daily deals in 11 Indian cities. Serving Tel Aviv and surrounding cities since March 2010, Grouper is widely recognized as the first and largest deal site in Israel. Twangoo has rapidly grown to serve the most cities of any deal site in South Africa. All three sites will transition to the Groupon brand name and site design in coming months, and will serve deals in the local communities’ primary languages: English in India and South Africa and Hebrew in Israel.

To my best knowledge my blog post “Groupon to launch in South Africa in cooperation with Twangoo” dated December 17th was the first public posting about the Twangoo/Groupon connection and I got quite some interesting follow-up conversation with industry people that indicated the takeover deal that was finally announced today.

Groupon South Africa now looks at a launch from a market leader position, but they might face special problems, they yet have to solve:

groupon.co.za is currently owned by competiting dailydeal-site wicount and they might face the same problem they’re currently facing in Australia: they offered the local domain owners “about $286,000 for the Groupon.com.au domain and trademark” but only got a counter-offer to buy the whole competing business in a package deal. Now that Groupon was stupid enough to publicly value their own brand-typo-domain, I’m interested to hear what might happen if Wicount goes the same route. Will Groupon go to court about the very essential domain name groupon.co.za or will they simply put cash on the table and possibly buy the whole Wicount business ending up with two local companies?

groupon.co.za whois