The new year is upon us. What better way to get started than to follow and connect with key decision makers in the SA tech scene.
Here are 15 people — from Small business minister Lindiwe Zulu to Silicon Valley based entrepreneur Vinny Lingham — that you should follow to keep abreast on views and happenings in the SA tech startup ecosystem.
Lindiwe Zulu (Small business minister): Zulu in her budget vote speech in May last year pledged that her department would put together a master plan to develop and grow the small business sector (see more here). The details have yet to emerge. In December she gave a report back on some of the department’s progress (see here). Follow her: @LindiweZulu6
Naledi Pandor (Science and technology minister): Pandor is trying to promote innovation with a limited budget. So far not much has been done to overall a research and development (R&D) tax incentive bogged down in red tape (see here). A seed fund under the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) is growing however (see here). Follow her: @NalediPandor
Vinny Lingham (Civic founder): Silicon Valley based SA entrepreneur and founder of Civic Vinny Lingham is one of the most prolific commentators on cryptocurrency. Follow him: @VinnyLingham
Patrick Schofield (Thundafund, Uprise.Africa founder): Schofield, who founded donations-based crowdfunding platform Thundafund in 2013. Last year he helped launch one of South Africa’s first equity crowdfunding platforms. When this piece went live the platform had yet to open to taking investments. Follow him: @PakSchofield
Llew Claasen (Bitcoin Foundation head): Claasen runs venture capital (VC) company Newtown Partners with Vinny Lingham and is the executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation. He is a much quoted expert on cryptocurrency. See this story and this one, in which he raises his concern about the “bitcoin bubble”. Follow him: @LlewClaasen
Ian Merrington (CiTi head): Ian Merrington is CEO of The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) and The Bandwidth Barn, a not for profit which develops technology skills and job readiness programmes. He’s also a keen commentator on local tech skills. Read more here. Follow him: CapeInnovation
Matsi Modise (Simodisa head): The managing director of entrepreneurship lobby group Simodisa, Matsi Modise, is a keen commentator on the tech startup sector. Simodisa last year launched a web portal aimed at unifying the entrepreneurship ecosystem (read more here). Follow her: @matsimodise
Vuyisa Qabaka (Ecosystem driver): It’s difficult to go to a local tech startup event and not bump into Vuyisa Qabaka. He runs Entrepreneur Traction and is also involved in running one of South Africa’s first equity crowdfunding platforms, Uprise.Africa, with Patrick Schofield. Follow him: @vuyisaq
Keet van Zyl (Knife Capital co-founder): Van Zyl, who co-founded Cape Town venture capital fund Knife Capital is a prolific tech commentator. His VC fund last year launched a London office with Springbok rugby star Bob Skinstad and made its first investment, in a Swedish startup (see here). Follow him: @KeetvZ
Andy Volk (Google Launchpad Africa): While most have probably never heard of him, Volk is the man at Google who conceptualised the company’s Launchpad Africa programme. The first cohort gets going this year (read more here). Follow him: @downtempo
Llew Morkel (Prosperiprop founder): Morkel is the founder of property fintech Prosperiprop and is one of the first SA entrepreneurs to run a (partly successful) initial coin offering (ICO). It wasn’t without learning some serious lessons, as he details here. Follow him: @LlewMorkel
McLean Sibanda (Innovation Hub head): Sibanda is the head of the Pretoria based Innovation Hub, which is funded by the Tshwane metro. Follow him: @mcleansibanda
Ellen Fischat (Silicon Cape head): Fischat is the head of Cape Town tech advocacy group Silicon Cape. Fischat last year pledged to help make the city’s tech ecosystem more inclusive and less of an “old boys’ club” (read the interview with her here). Follow her: @ellenfischat
Justin Stanford (4Di Capital founder): Stanford is the founder and head of venture capital (VC) company 4Di Capital. He believes any overt focus by SA ecosystem players on creating the country’s first unicorn is a “misdirection of attention”. Follow him: @JustinStanford
Sandras Phiri (Startup Grind Cape Town organiser): Phiri is the chapter head of Startup Grind Cape Town. Startup Grind is an organisation that runs events and talks in various cities around the world aimed at promoting entrepreneurship. Here Phiri details what one needs to run ones own Startup Grind chapter successfully. Follow him: @sandrasphiri
*Editor’s note: A reader pointed out subsequent to the publication of this piece that Ventureburn had incorrectly stated that Llew Claasen was a founder of Clickatell, when in fact he was only an employee at the company. We regret the error.