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    September 14, 2007

    South Africa’s web startups to watch

    I‘ve had an idea for this kind of list for quite some time now, but I guess I‘ve been waiting until we have clear and well-defined players rather than something we insiders consider successful but is really unknown to the rest of the local web space.

    I‘ve tried to diversify the list with startups doing things in different markets, and while this is a list of the most promising startups they are by no means the best but are looking toward a bright future. If I missed out on any please share your insight in the comments area. In no particular order:

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    Amatomu is an aggregator of South African blogs with a ranking system based on page views and inbound links. The aggregator also features various widgets to integrate Amatomu functionality into your blog.

    Founded by Vincent Maher and Matthew Buckland from M&G

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    Modelbase is an online portfolio hosting website for South African models and photographers. Sort of an online modeling agency to view and contact South Africa’s best photography and modeling talent.

    Founded by Freestyle Labs

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    Synthasite is an browser based AJAX website construction tool that allows you to assemble your website from any PC. The application features many widgets and templates to choose from enabling any novice web designer to create professional web properties.

    Founded by Vinny Lingham from Incubeta

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    Blueworld is an social network which allows you to create your own profile and express yourself through blogs, videos and photos which aggregates on your profile and in various sub areas of the network. Sort of South Africa’s Myspace, Blueworld also features clubbing photos from around South Africa including foreign destinations such as London and Germany.

    Founded by Brent Brooks, Bradley Voges and Charl Norman

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    Afrigator is the second aggregator on this list but has a unique hook focusing on blogs in the Africa internet name space. Afrigator is Africa’s first social media aggregator with content channels from Nigeria to Uganda.

    Founded by Mike Stopforth, Justin Hartman, Stiaan Pretorius and Mark Forrester (Some jumped on board later in the project’s live)

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    Zoopy is one of the first photo and video sharing networks in South Africa featuring numerous channels from politics to humor.

    Founded by Jason Elk and co

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    One of the first social media startups to come out of South Africa, Muti is a social bookmarking site inspired by reddit and Digg but dedicated to content of interest to Africans or those interested in Africa.

    Founded/headed up by Neville Newey and Dave Duarte

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    The Vottle project allows you to network online, to buy and sell goods, and it enables you seek out other like-minded people. Vottle can be described as an online classifieds or a community service. With many ad listings in numerous categories and a useful sms service Vottle has become one of the leading online classifieds destinations in SA.

    Founded by Greg de Chasteauneuf, Ronnie Apteker, Andrew Murray, Colin Peterson, Justin Spratt, Richard van Katwijk and Gus MacRobert

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    iBlog is a blogging community where anyone can register and create their own blog. Showcasing thousands of bloggers, iBlog is the biggest independent blogging community in the dot coza name space.

    Founded by Mark Garbers

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    AmaGama, another project out of the M&G stable, is a blogging community where anyone can register and create their own WordPress blog and post podcasts.

    Founded by Vincent Maher and Matthew Buckland

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    Zoopedup is an automotive social network that allows you to create an online garage for your car featuring blogging, video and picture sharing, discussion forums, ride battles and event galleries from around the globe.

    Founded by Charl Norman

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    My Video is the second video sharing platform in this list and claims to also be the first of its kind in South Africa. Featuring all the characteristics of a video sharing site groups, channels and off course videos.

    Founded/Run by Rowan Polovin, Tristan Owen and Michael Salzwedel

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    MyGenius allows users to promote themselves, build relationships and possibly collaborate with others. The focus of MyGenius is to give individuals a space to showcase their skills, brand themselves and share their ideas.

    Founded by John Raath and Doug Timberlake

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    Freelancentral is a hub for talented freelancers to pitch for projects posted by employers.

    Founded by Jo Duxbury

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    iJol allows you to scan through a summary of all kinds of events happening in your area, and even to see which of your buddies are planning on attending. The site also allows you to plan and post events while creating a profile (myJol) of events you will/have attended.


    Other startups hovering around:

    Digspot, Vrinne, Student Village, LitNet, SA Reunited, MK89 (worth featuring but bought off the shelf), My Bookmark, Mobimii, TWAC, Wibble, Springleap 

    References:

    Uno de Waal, David Duarte, TechCrunch, IOL Technology

    List by Charl Norman

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    • Uno de Waal

      Great post Charl and thanks for reference.
      It would be interesting to compare which networks are actually built up from scratch and which use packages off the rack.
      Sites like Amagama, iBlog (WordPress MU) Muti, My Bookmark (pligg) and I don’t know who else (I’m suggesting Myvideo and Zoopy, but I’m unsure) use open source packages which suggest that they weren’t built up from scratch and therefore might be considered less innovative from a technical perspective, but more innovative from a marketing angle.

      I find it interesting that you say “worth featuring but bought off the shelf” for MK89, but not for any of these other OS networks. Where do you see the difference?

      Also, you’ve forgotten about the 24.com blogs (shameless punt here). You claim that iblog.co.za is the biggest independant blogging community under the ZA namespace. I assume that you mean the biggest who don’t have a corporate news agency backing them (ala Amagama as well).

      Great post Charl! I’ll be linking and referring back.

    • Mark

      Another shameless punt, I must be honest. But I’m hoping all sorts of good things for http://sablogger.co.za which is a digg-style site for South African related blogs & news…

    • Uno de Waal

      It’s quite funny, at school we were involved with a project called iJol as well.

      It was supposed to be a content portal for highschool kids. Now I find myself doing something similar again!

    • Mark

      Great post Charl, well researched and informative!

      Uno, from what I can tell, iblog.co.za is the biggest blogging site in SA, backed by a major news agency or not. Obviously I stand to be corrected if this isn’t the case, but I think that our 6900 bloggers is the biggest ‘herd’ of bloggers in the ZA space.

      And you’re completely correct, most of our functionality is provided by WordPress… there is a fair bit of customisation that has been done, but we don’t think that we can do much better than the WordPress team, so are happy to use most of their optimisations!

      Really exciting to see how the ZA social space is hotting up, good work everyone!

      • Sceptic

        But do you care about blogging at all ? From what I can see on the site,not really. Its a complet mess, nothing interesting for the reader at all. If it wern’t for the wordpress back-end and the lack of competition. You’d have nothing to offer at all

    • Zoopedup for the win! I totally love it! Something very classy coming out of SA. Freelancentral has also got a crisp look and feel to it. Loving the quality that is emerging. As for the “bought of the shelf”… i like a site with personality so many of these startups seem scripty… but then again… better have something than nothing… Quality post BB.

    • Hey Charl,
      Excellent post. With regards to Muti – I think that this site (and news-filters in general) have the most tremendous potential going forward – how else do we sort the grain from the chaff if not through a community of peers (or else really good editors). I can tell you that we have a very interesting plan for the next evolution of the site. Watch that space:)

    • Don’t forget http://www.iJol.co.za, SA’s events community!

      Soon I would like to be adding to that list. 😉

    • @Uno your right, but my personal opinion is that a big corporate such as Mnet with their money backing them could’ve developed their own platform instead of buying it off the shelf.

      @Dave thanks for dropping by, originally I had you as a founder of Muti but edited it as you joined the project later. I will edit the tagline and include your name.. muti is great and leads the pack of social news sites by a long shot

      @Capdog – iJol is a great site and slipped my mind.. I will include it right away

      *updating post… *

    • Hi Charl

      Great post and a super reference for anyone wanting a quick list of the SA Web 2.0 scene.

      To answer Uno’s question, it must be said that Zoopy’s code was built by a team of developers. After looking at the scripts out there about a year and a half ago, we decided on the same day to rather build from scratch for scalability, stability and control.

      That said, you’re only looking at Zoopy v1. More on the way.

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    • @Uno

      Muti is NOT built from any open source “packages” and is entirely built from scratch in Python.

    • greg forrester

      SAblogger still uses the default pligg theme its not worth mentioning, its not even worth my bandwidth

    • Great Post Man…
      Keep it up.

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    • Thanks for the good feedback guys if you like the post or find it useful please link to it! (;

      @Neville – very impressive that muti is custom built

    • Thank you very much Charl. One of the motivations for doing it was purely to scratch a programmers itch 🙂 (Yes, geeks are an odd bunch)

    • ok, not to shamelessly plug 🙂 but I think you’re missing a few lesser spotted startups (ok maybe not entirely startup – most have ironed out the kinks already and have a business model and revenue 🙂 )

      http://www.blogkits.com = South african born internationally competitive blogger-only ad network that focuses on paying bloggers for honest reviews on products, sites and services.
      Open to international bloggers. Think pay-per-post but we want to know what you honestly really do think!
      Also provides real-time blog ads that are optimized based on content for which bloggers paid on an sale, lead or acquisition basis – think google adsense but with bigger returns!

      http://www.offerforge.com = South African and US based Affiliate ad network running most large market affiliate programs in SA and major brands in the US. Technology and operations all based out of SA. A really well kept secret in South Africa I’m afraid 🙂

      http://www.forgeinsight.com = globally patented technology that aggregates reporting and solves the complexity for advertisers of what’s called multi-network-affiliate-marketing. Doesn’t sound cool – but it gets the hairs tingling for people in the know in the US and UK. it’s kinda like Google Analytics for the affiliate space……and since million are being spent on R&D here I guess it fits the startup mode LOL!

    • Goose

      As usual mon petite pois, you’ve written another great article. Especially enjoyed the modelbase. Shame im not in S.A anymore 😉 MWAHA

    • Well, Im glad everyone is taking the list as the definative outline of hot SA startups.. some are even getting bitchy about it on their blogs.

      That’s not what I was trying to portay, I listed young up and coming startups recently created.. hence ‘to watch..’

      But by all means please add to the list..

    • You forgot to mention wibble.co.za

    • Here’s another one:

      Load The Show

      http://www.loadtheshow.com

    • I should add in Wibble, and even M&G’s Thought Leader..

      Not to sure about Load the Show

    • Great post, some exciting stuff here.
      I’m biased, but I think that my Ideate colleagues’ http://www.yuppiechef.co.za is worthy of honourable mention. No start-up funding, no outside marketing – just hard (and smart) slog. Shane Dryden and Andrew Smith are making e-commerce palatable in a country that’s traditionally found it hard to digest.

    • Hey Fred, Yuppie chef looks great, love the colour scheme.. very niche store. I will include it into the next list which im working on now.. Its much more detailed with user stats etc

      Thanks for dropping by

      • Rcstoltz

        Hi Charl,

        When are you updating the list again bud ?

        Thank You

    • Thought of another one:

      http://www.cherrypicka.com/

      By Jon Cherry of Cherryflava…

      😉

    • Rodin

      So many websites – feel free to list them at a new one :

      http://www.BizMeet.co.za

      It’s a social network especially for website owners or affiliates. Add your site(s) to the online directory and post some ads in the classifieds. Communicate. Post blogs punting your websites. Have fun!

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    • Mike Moses

      It will be great to take a look at http://www.wonaafrica.com.

      The idea is to have a travel youtube for Africa.

      Cheers.

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    • esvl
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    • what about biz Community site? that is really busy , or is it no longer a start up?

    • Jo-Pierre

      I think you will really enjoy this. SA biggest and best competition website!

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    • An extremely comprehensive list of sites. As I write this I have opened like 10 tabs of sites that I want to check out. Cheers for the list.

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    • Wow, So many to mention. Really a good site to look out for is

      http://www.virusremoval.co.za Taking the fight back at them.

      Really cool.

    • Ayesha

      Take a look at http://www.moggl.com, it’s a South African based social network. Really easy to navigate and lots to do.

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    • belgord

      I find bundublog.com a great blog host. They are totally dedicated to Africa. They are new and should be kept an eye on! They use the WordPress platform and have great features.

    • khathutshelo

      I am sure that South Africa would be on top of things if we had better bandwidth. Telkom has managed to slow us down. But its nice to see people fighting on! Nice post dude!

    • mikael

      Hi, where can I find a list of other african startups ? africa in general rather than solely south african

      ——
      xenbet.com

    • I know this is an old post but I just wanted you to be aware of another great web startup… http://www.capetownalive.co.za. Otherwise the list is really useful, thanks.

      Kind regards,
      Sandra

    • khathutshelo

      I recently came across http://www.75.co.za by 2lmn(2lmn.co.za)’s Lebogang Nkoane. Its a brilliant concept and the site’s execution is clean and fresh too..

    • Blinkplan (www.blinkplan.com) is a new one by two South Africans. It caters for the media market (especially magazines) and does easy flatplans.

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    • Couldn’t agree with Charl more… having a South African based websites shows that we are truely getting there.

    • Gavinh

      Watch http://www.blogsa.co.za its new, its still buggy but the ethos is right.

    • søgemaskineoptimering

      for your car featuring blogging, video and picture sharing, discussion forums, r… source: South Africas web startups to watch, …

    • Rcstoltz

      Hi Guys,

      What about Virtusa.co.za – a Digg style South African social community where users can share and discover the latest and greatest of the web (especially the South African web-o-sphere). I know there have been a few failed startups similar to this but what makes Virtusa.co.za different? Because it is the ONLY such startup/site in South Africa to work on a revenue share model for SA based Adsense publishers. Simply post your quality news articles and links and get 80% revenue share ! Now this might be a simple startup but it is one not only different, but also making a difference ! What do you think ?