I'll be back in South Africa for a few months towards the end of this year, and I'm planning on hosting a 1 day conference, and bringing some of the knowledge I've gained whilst being based in Silicon Valley.

So my questions to the Silicon Cape community are:


Where are the gaps in local startup/tech knowledge?

What areas of focus (online marketing, social, usability, virality, angel investing, tech finance) do we need to build on?


Your comments below will really help to understand what speakers I should bring in for the conference (hopefully a few international ones too).




Vinny Lingham


Co-founder:  Clicks2Customers, Yola, Silicon Cape Initiative

Angel Investor:  SkyRove, ChessCube, Personera

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Hello Vinny,

To be frank, the overall impression I get from listening to many in our community is that the biggest lack that is felt in the Cape is that of VC investors.  Apart from the occasional foray into our markets from overseas investors, we have only a handful of locally based VC's and Angels.

A good initiative in recent times has been the founding of the Angels' Hub.  Perhaps what is called for is more of the same and also the word going out to potential off-shore investors about the opportunities available here.

Best of luck with your conference and I hope to attend and hear you and the others speak.

Hi Vinny


Current startup - we really struggling motivating our team members/staff. We find them super energised first 2 weeks, thereafter, morale is low if no sales/business.


Where do we draw the line with regards to startup company culture? Zappos style with so much freedom or Corporate 8 - 5pm?


Team dynamics...team building etc.


Just a thought


That's awesome to hear Vinny.


In my opinion what's most lacking is simply a culture of hooking up and trying out new things, so in terms of knowledge maybe listening to stories of that happening would help, in particular getting around the compensation issue (equity sharing if any). I think for us here it should focus on encouraging more people to do this (even if just for fun) regardless of whether they are newly minted graduates or keep their day jobs.


For investors I think the same story is true, what seems to be missing is a willingness to accept that encouraging more small bets with people that are passionate about a general direction is where the fuel to a startup economy takes place and it's how company's find a strong position. Saul Klein mentioned this - being more open to lots of small bets - in a magazine article a few months ago. There are a lot of casual business angels in SA and I think telling a story about how this works in a way that they can relate to can be a big help.


Finally if you really want to get things flowing I think it would also help a lot to do something to encourage a culture of experimentation among the coders. It's all the same theme really, just a lack of activity and community. The active community of developers in other cities seems to play a large role in enabling and supporting new efforts, connections and collaborations. At the moment we don't seem to have any significant developer culture, people just don't take the time or effort to get out and interact in the community. The story with designers is similar especially in the case of software interface designers which at least *appear* to be very rare here.


Good luck, I'm looking forward to it.



Hi Mr.Lingham


The conference sounds like a great initiative and is much needed in Cape Town, below are my reccomendations/comments.


Where are the gaps in local startup/tech knowledge?

-          The Adoption of a Silicon Valley State of Mind

-          Shift of Creating Tech Services-to-Products to Supply the Tech Needs of firstly the South African Market whilst Thinking Global

-          Practical Tech Finance Options

-          Thinking and Optimising Tech Solutions for Mobile


In Silicon Valley, almost every new person you meet not only knows about startup entrepreneurship, but lives it, has first hand experience in it and knows dozens of other people who are the same. Once you get to know enough people like this, that's when things begin to move quickly for your startup. 


That idea break-through tech idea that you've been kicking around in your head for months, gets questioned and scrutinized in a way that pushes you forward faster than you ever thought possible. I think that is the major gap yet opportunity in start-up knowledge needed in Cape Town, the environment to produce World Class Tech Start-Ups.


The point is, although it's possible to do a startup anywhere, when you surround yourself with people who live and breadth entrepreneurship, the possible starts to become much more probable, hence I feel that adopting a Silicon Valley State of Mind is a quantum leap in the direction of establishing Cape Town as the Technology hub of Africa.

What areas of focus (online marketing, social, usability, virality, angel investing, tech finance) do we need to build on?

- Silicon Valley Innovation Ecosystem

- Doing Business the American Way

- Benefiting and building a lasting relationship with an Angel Investor

- Practical methods of letting current Tech Problems/Opportunities tell us how to Design/Package our Tech Solutions.

- Online Mobile Marketing & Viriality


I've also recently saw a cool program run by the Italians called “You can Fill the Gap” – “designed to train future entrepreneurs to better prepare for starting up a new tech business, while benchmarking the Silicon Valley way and getting in touch with Italian opportunities”




Its designed to:

1)       Prepare your Journey

2)       Learn from Global Excellences

3)       Discover Local Opportunities


Thanks :)


Thanks Luke - this is great stuff!  Email me for free ticket when we launch!
Can I too get a free ticket, please?

Hi Luke, nice one, i personally would like to add;

The call of the entrepreneur, what is it that inspires you, drives your ambitions and helps you make the world a awesome place!

What purpose do we serve to communities and economies and what is the point of our endeavors.

Hello Vinny,

In a recent article Eric Edelstein makes a couple of good points regarding the factors which would help accelerate startups and the contrast with Cape Town. You may find it interesting to spend 5 minutes reading this;





I like the points in that article, because it constitutes "real" help.

I think there are two things we need to do as a community of SA entrepreneurs. We need more failures, we need more lessons and grow the collective knowledge. We need more "break through" South Africans, but we have to spread the net wider to teach more people, to find more of them. 


1. Proper lessons from real experts (international experts too)

Solid workshops learning about key skills. Sales, marketing, GAP, CAC, leardership etc

(not a talk by some mediocre who knows the theory, but a real proven track record expert giving a classroom like lesson). Everyone talks about their "connections", well bring them over to S.A to give a workshop. get sponsors to pay for these people to come and do it if need be. 

I would suggest connecting with high schools and universities, and appealing to them to learn and get involved. Who knows which one of them could be coming up with the next big thing.


2. Learning by trying/failing/succeeding

Research and Development Grants in aid of learning and developing skills and ideas

kind of like saying "I dont know if its a good idea, but here is 20k to prove to me it is, here are the milestones and the workshops you must attend".

Get sponsors/vc's/angels/businesses etc to put in a trivial amount each, adding up to R20k or more. Select an entrepreneur or two and an idea with key milestones for the product as well as to achieve basic skills over 8 weeks. for example making sure that they deliver realistic forecasts, marketing etc).

that small investment in a dozen or so people per year, would add up to much more knowledge being spread through SC.






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