SA Tech Startups That Disrupted 2018 #BestofSMESA2018

tech innovations best of 2018
tech innovations best of 2018

(Top row) Schalk Nolte, CEO of Entersekt; Karidas Tshintsholo and Matthew Piper, co-founders of the Khula! App; and Jozette Chetwynd-Palmer, founder of AirAdvance; (bottom row) Katlego Maphai, CEO of Yoco; Antoine Paillusseau, co-founder of FinChatBot; and Brandon Kynoch, creator of the game Torus.

2018 is the year we saw gaming developer, Brandon Kynoch’s (16), grab attention for his game Torus after it became a big hit internationally. Other tech startups also made news for successfully securing investment, collaborating with major banks and expanding globally.

We look at startups that made news in 2018:

1. Hard Graft Studios

Earlier this year, the game Torus by 16-year old Brandon Kynoch, owner and founder of Hard Graft Studios, made headlines when it was chosen as the App Store’s Game of the Day in 137 App stores worldwide. This was shortly after the game had been downloaded 100,000 times during its first 24 hours on the App Store.

Other accolades of Torus include being the number one spot in Free Action Games, number two in Free Arcade Games and number five in All Free Games. According to the public relations agency Total Exposure, this is the first time that a South African’s game has achieved such broad coverage on the App Store globally.

2. Khula! app

Khula! is a South African app and supply-chain solution that took top honours at this year’s MTN Business App Of The Year Awards, receiving recognition in a special category dubbed Best Agricultural Solution.

Khula! connects farmers in emerging markets with the formal marketplace. These are typically farmers who produce a fairly small harvest and through the platform they are able to combine their crops to reach requirements to supply their products on a larger scale. Using the app, farmers are able to list their produce and track real time inventory levels from emerging farmers as well as basic production forecasting.

Karidas Tshintsholo (23) and Matthew Piper (24) are the co-founders, who launched the app in 2016 while still studying at the University of Cape Town.

3. Entersekt

Entersekt, a South Africa based financial security solution won the award for Best Mobile Security Technology for the third time at the 2018 Banker Africa’s Southern Africa Banking Awards.

The technology is a provider of authentication and mobile app security to seven out of ten South Africa’s largest banks. Entersekt also launched a digital payments enablement product, Connekt, which will add new payment services to banking apps notably quickly and easily.

4. Yoco 

The fintech which helps small businesses accept card payments, announced this year they had raised a Series B round of US$16 million (R230 million).

The round is led by Partech, a venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley, Europe and Africa, with participation from Orange Digital Ventures, FMO (The Dutch Development Bank), South African-based FutureGrowth and existing Series A investors Quona Capital and Velocity Capital.

Yoco, founded in 2015, is now a company that processes over R3.5b in card transactions on an annual basis.

5. FinChatBot

Two companies announced their co-investment into financial services chatbot providers, FinChatBot. The investment amount of $500 000 (over R7 million) is invested by South African venture capital firm Kalon Venture Partners and Mauritius-based Compass Venture Capital.

Antoine Paillusseau and Romain Diaz are the co-founders of FinChatBot, which develops chatbots to help financial service providers acquire and retain customers through artificial intelligence-powered conversations.

6. Selpal

Selpal is a South African fintech company that operates specifically in townships, to boost the financial inclusion of the informal economy.

The technology startup announced this year that it is partnering with FNB Business. Selpal has developed an integrated system connecting informal retailers such as spaza shops (community grocery stores) with fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) suppliers, wholesalers and brands.

“Our partnership with FNB Business will help expand our network and supercharge our growth,” said Stephen Goldberg, CEO and co-founder of Selpal.

7. Isazi Consulting

The artificial intelligence and optimisation company, Isazi Consulting partnered with Wesbank and Youi (OUTsurance Australia).

Isazi Consulting’s solutions can be used on a diverse range of problems including using data to find the optimum flight schedules for airlines, predicting futures commodity prices and optimising the packing of shipping containers.

According to Obakeng Moepya, co-founder of the company, collaboration between fintechs and traditional banks is one of the key ways to get a better service offering for the customer.

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Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan
Melissa Javan is a writer with nine years' experience in the media industry. She enjoys blogging and taking part in Twitter chats. You can find her on Twitter @melissa_nel.