Archives For Randolf Jorberg

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 my (then pregnant) girlfriend Varnia and me were sitting 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 we realised, 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, created a brand new Facebook page, invited Capetonian friends and started posting, before going to bed.

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

varnia-randolf-eliza-festival-of-beer

Beerhouse Team at the CT Festival of Beer 2012: Varnia, Randolf and baby Eliza. Not in the picture: Jane

Just a few days after the birth of our daughter it happened: Varnias uncle told us, 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' and they mentioned my name. 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...

I slowly realized what we've done: it wasn't only friends & family, that liked our 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 a family-team together with relentless Jane, 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.

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... :-)

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...

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... :-)

I did just announce publicly that gulli.com - the website I started in 1998 - was sold for an undisclosed amount. I expect the new owner to keep the main features and start developing new exciting extensions for it's more than 600k registered members. Alexa says that gulli is one of the Top50 visited sites in Germany and Google Analytics counted more than 55.5 million pageviews from 9.8 million visits in January.

While I have to thank gulli for the existence of my company and an uncountable amount of experience and learnings I felt it's a good time to say good bye after ten years of hard work on a single internet project. I will keep all my employees, hire new staff, move into bigger offices and use our experience in the internet-technology, community-management and online-marketing markets to build new exciting projects primarily targeted to the german and south african markets.

I hope to give you more updates here on my blog that was just recently moved from the old bi-lingual gul.li domain name to the english-only randolf.jorberg.com Domain.

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...

This blog…

December 14, 2006

… is brand new - so please handle with care.There were some earlier approaches to blogging for me, but they never worked as I wished they would. I may feel like pasting some old posts from old forgotten blogs into this wordpress at a later time, so don’t be surprised if this isn’t going to be the first entry forever.
This is gonna be me, Randolf Jorberg, aka. ‘gulli‘ and a few other temporary nicknames, blogging about stuff that matters - for me ;)I’ll try to keep this blog english languaged but with a heavy emphasis on german topics. I’m into all aspects of online marketing (specially affiliate marketing and search engine optimization) and the internet business to interesting discoveries on the net and maybe even some viral stuff floating around. There may be a german-only post every here and then, but I guess you’ll figure that out yourself ;-)You can expect me to write about stuff I care about whenever I feel that I’ve got something to commit to a discussion. This will never be a blog where I tell you about all the News that you can read about at so many different places. If you’re interested, subscribe to the feed, as there may be month-long breaks where I don’t post at all.Oh - and I nearly forgot: http://gul.li used to be the index-site of the gulli blog-hosting service - this info-site moved into our tools-section where you find info how to get your own blog at yourname.gul.li. Edit: this is outdated as since selling gulli.com I moved all content from gul.li to http://randolf.jorberg.com in early 2008.