Edition 1 | September 2010
Welcome to our first monthly newsletter which is aimed at keeping you up to date with all the happenings at Silicon Cape. It's been 3 months since my appointment as Chairman of the Steering Committee, so I'd like to take this opportunity to update you on our progress. The committee has focussed itself around achieving three broad goals: Encouraging tech startups and raising the profile of existing startups in the Western Cape, attracting more investment capital to the Western Cape and our exciting startups and improving the regulatory, financial and technological environment within which our startups can flourish.
As an example of our efforts on our first goal, we have recently reached an agreement with the multimedia department of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology to use their computer labs after hours and on weekends to train the developers and tech entrepreneurs of our future. This is a real grass roots initiative with a long-term payoff and we need your help in making it a reality. We're currently designing a short course covering the basics of Web Development and Business Management and are looking for volunteers from the Silicon Cape community to help facilitate and teach this course. If you have skills in HTML, WordPress, open source programming languages or basic business management and you want to give back to your community, then we need your help. Please get in touch with us to
be a part of this worthy initiative..
I'm also very excited to announce the appointment of Roger Norton as Co-ordinator of the Silicon Cape Initiative. With the support of the Steering Committee, Roger will be responsible for the day-to-day management of Silicon Cape Initiative and the rollout of our various events and initiatives.
Our monthly newsletter will include community relevant information and announcements as well as a profile of a local startup that's begun to achieve real success on a global scale. We'll also introduce you to one of our committee members each month and provide a host of resources and events that we think will be valuable to the community. Of course we'd love to hear from you, so if you have anything to share - we're all ears. Just send us a mail.
Yours sincerely from the Silicon Cape,
Hot Startup: Nimbula
In today's edition, we're featuring one of SA's most recent success stories, Nimbula. Having been in stealth mode for a long time under the wing of Sequoia Capital (who provided an initial $5.75 million in funding), they've recently expanded internationally with a large second round of funding ($15 million from Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital) and look to take the cloud operating system market by storm. Nimbula was founded in South Africa by Chris Pinkham and Willem van Biljon, who previously were integral in developing the Amazon EC2 public cloud system. Blending the EC2-like scale, agility and efficiency, Nimbula merges the technology of the
public cloud with the security and control of the private data centre. The data is easily modified and accessed via command line interface, web interface or custom apps.
Nimbula's currently headquartered in Menlo Park, California, but they still keep their team of developers right here in Cape Town. The company currently has just over 20 employees - a figure they're looking to double over the coming months.
With much of the cloud computing market still largely unclaimed, there is fierce rivalry brewing between Nimbula, Eucalyptus, Rackspace and VMware. This Silicon Cape startup is well positioned to make waves on an international scale. We wish them all the best.
For more info, please visit www.Nimbula.com/news.
Call for Mentors
Are you someone that sees the potential of the Silicon Cape? Do you want to make a contribution?
For us to build successfully a society of entrepreneurs, sharing knowledge and advise to those starting out is crucial. As a way to encourage this, we're putting out a call for both mentors and for founders wanting mentors. Silicon Cape would like to be a catalyst in helping this happen by connecting possible mentors with interested startups and founders. If you're interested, please contact us with a short (max 200 word) bio. We'll then notify possible mentors of the selection of startups and allow them to contact the founders. The agreement between the parties is entirely up to them, but our minimum suggestion is for the mentors to offer one hour every 2 weeks to focus on the new startup and their problems.
This is a really great way for you to get involved in the community and help the next generation of companies to sprout in the Silicon Cape.
Zoopy Video Link: Tech4Africa
Tech4Africa recently took place in Johannesburg and this month's video features a Q&A session with Leila Janah, after her keynote speech on the Thursday. You can find the rest of the conference videos here.
Seedcamp in South Africa
After the very successful Seedcamp held in Johannesburg the day before the Tech4Africa Conference, we followed up with Philipp Moehring who organised the event to get his thoughts on how it went and his impressions of our local market.
The decision to come to Africa was explored initially out of an interest of "what is actually going on down there." South Africa became and obvious choice to test the waters as they had great support from the Tech4Africa conference (particularly Gareth Knight) and it was the easiest market to access with their current contacts. "It just made sense," said Philipp.
Overall, it was a great experience for Seedcamp, with many people remarking on how similar our market is to Europe's. Philipp ranked the event as a very similar quality to the ones held in Europe and sees real potential for the untapped market here. Despite only very few of the mentors having been at a Seedcamp event before - normally they have over 70% - he found that the wide representation and high quality of the mentors contributed to the success. The diversity and innovation of our startups was also noted with many of the international attendees surprised by what they found.
At the conference they announced the 'popular vote' winners, iSigned and Cognician, but it has yet to be officially announced who will be invited to attend the next London Seedcamp event. Unfortunately the Seedcamp fund currently only caters for European startups, but the exposure and contacts that they will make at the event will be indispensable. Hopefully this may lead to an African branch of Seedcamp in the future...
When asked if Seedcamp would return, Philipp's response was: "Yes, definitely," but whether the event is held in South Africa or another African country (possibly Kenya) is still to be decided. I think the greatest success is the exposure that South Africa got and the way that people internationally are waking up to the potential here. Let's hope for many more successful events like this as we continue to build our society of entrepreneurs.
Seedcamp has been running since 2007 and was founded as a way to combat the lack of early stage funding in Europe at the time. It was exactly the same situation we find ourselves in at the moment here in South Africa. Phillip runs the 'front end' of the company and has extensive experience in VC firms as well as being involved in the startup community in Germany.
Great quote from the interview: "South Africa is to Africa what the UK is to Europe from the US perspective. An obvious point of entry with the closest ties and similarities."
UPDATE: Since going to print, SeedCamp has announced that they have nominated 3 of the South African startups (iSigned, Cognitian and GetAGreatBoss) to be among the 23 entrants to the main SeedCamp held in London later this month. We in the Silicon Cape wish you all the best.
I've just come aboard to help the committee with their goals for the Silicon Cape Initiative, but as this is all of our community I'm going to need your help. There are three main areas that the committee has decided to focus on and build: Community Building, Awareness and Engagement.
The power of community comes, well... from the community. I would like to focus on enabling and empowering you, the community, to help create value for others in the community. If you'd like to organise something or do your part for building the community, we may be able to help.
I'd like to see Silicon Cape become an enabler and we're currently in the process of looking for sponsors to help us take some more actionable steps to achieving our goals. This funding will be used to gather data about the community, as well as for supporting some of our networking events, with a fair amount of capital being set aside for "Community Initiative Support." These funds will be made available to people who want to do something within the community - from organising events, to training and development programs to anything that can be aligned with the community's goals. The funds and details are still to be worked out, but if you feel that you might qualify please contact me as it will help us create a system that works.
Also, if anyone would like to contribute to putting this newsletter together or helping manage the online community, please get in touch. Lastly, I'd like to say a big thank you to Quirk for letting us use their staff and resources to make this newsletter possible.
Silicon Cape Co-ordinator