The Big Ideas That Inspired Some Of SA’s Most Exciting Startups

Updated on 7 March 2018

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SME South Africa celebrates Game changers/Disruptors this March. Follow along as we explore ideas and people that are challenging the status quo. 

This article was originally published in October 2017. 

Where do entrepreneurs find inspiration to come up with winning ideas? Judging by the diverse range of origin stories behind many successful businesses, the answer may be everywhere.

Katlego MaphaiYoco co-founder, in an interview with Fin24, shared how the idea for his startup Yoco, came to him while sharing a meal with a friend at a run-down eatery on a visit to the US.

He went on to launch a point-of-sale (POS) payment service together with co-founders Bradley Wattrus, Carl Wazen and Lungisa Matshoba.

Yoco is currently one of the country’s buzziest fintech startups, following a very fruitful year. In addition to a successful foreign funding round, the startup recently announced that they were collaborating with the global payments company Mastercard. They will be rolling out 15,000 mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) devices to SMEs by the end of 2017.

We take a look at Yoco’s and 4 other local startups’ origins stories. 

1. Katlego MaphaiYoco, Co-Founder
Maphai says the moment of inspiration for Yoco came while paying for their meal, in particular seeing how a “really beaten-down barbecue eatery” was equipped with a modern payment system, he says in the same Fin24 interview.

“There was really nothing on the countertop, no till, nothing. She [the owner] asks us how we’d wanted to pay, takes out this Android phone, sticks in this dongle, swipes his [my friend’s] card and he signs with his finger … it was just like [the] lights [went on].”

2. Mogau SeshoeneThe Lazy Makoti, Founder 
Seshoene’s business offers cooking lessons for the modern busy woman. The company, which she launched in 2014, has expanded to selling branded merchandise such as aprons, chopping boards, trays, recipe journals and tea sets.

Seshoene, who was taught to cook by her grandmother from a young age, helped a newly married and desperate friend, who was soon to host her in-laws, learn how to cook.

The experience inspired her to start a cooking project. She started out small, sharing recipes on Facebook, and later developed it into a fully-fledged cooking lessons business.

In 2016, Seshoene took part in the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

See also: A Look At What Some Of SA’s Top Entrepreneurs Studied At University

3. Katlego MalatjiHomecoming Events, Co-Founder
While studying towards a law degree at the University of Pretoria, Malatji had the idea to host a ‘send-off’ picnic for his circle of friends who were all headed to different universities.

With the help of business partner, Neo Moela, the business has grown from hosting picnics for 20 people to crowds of more than 16 000. They also went on to launch the music, culture and lifestyle festival ‘Homecoming Africa’.

The festival has featured local and international artists, including American hip-hop artist O.T. Genasis, Nigerian singer WizkidKwaito group Trompies, hip-hop group Morafe, and rapper Nasty C.

4. Alexander FourieweFix, Founder 
weFix, an electronic device repair chain has over 36 stores nationwide and has to date repaired more than 700,000 devices since launching in 2006.

It was launched by Fourie who came up with the idea to start the business after watching YouTube tutorials to learn how to fix his iPod in his Stellenbosch university dorm room.

Earlier this year, weFix entered into a partnership with South African drone training providers, Drone Racing Africa (DRA), to establish a repair and training network for drone flyers. He was also named as one of Forbes Magazine‘s top 10 Promising Young African Entrepreneurs for 2014.

5. Aisha PandorSweepSouth, Co-Founder 
In 2014, Pandor alongside husband, Alen Ribic, launched their on-demand home cleaning service platform.

The pair found themselves struggling to find a temporary domestic help during the festive season. That’s when they decided to provide a service that would help homeowners to connect with domestic helpers. Their website and app allows users to book experienced cleaners that are referenced and insured.

The platform has, since its launch, secured multiple rounds of funding from investors like Silicon Valley businessman Vinny Lingham, private investor and DJ, Black Coffee, and Tim Draper, founder of VC Fund Draper Dark Flow. They were also the first South African startup to participate in the Silicon Valley-based accelerator programme500 Startups in 2015. This year Sweepsouth was also nominated for the 2017 FNB Business Innovation Awards.

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