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Buspreneur interview with Dean Rotherham

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Dean Rotherham
Dean Rotherham, founder and director at Shop Beat, is passionate about making things work and will often work into the crazy hours of the morning to insure that they do just that – work!

  1. Who are you? Describe yourself in 3 sentences.
    I’m passionate about people, technology and the meaningful difference we can make in our world by combining the two. I love a good challenge and am always up for something new that can broaden my knowledge. I enjoy attention to detail and often find myself thundering on into the crazy hours of the morning making “stuff” work. 😉
  2. What do you expect from your participation on the bus?
    I’m excited about the meeting of a diverse and energetic group of minds that view Southern Africa in the same way I do and truly believe now is “the time for Southern Africa”. I’m looking forward to the journey, not only for sparking and sharing ideas that can turn into long lasting friendships and working partnerships, but also a journey whereby we better understand what Southern Africa really “needs”.
  3. Why Africa? Why now?
    Growth in Southern Africa is a given and with that comes endless opportunities, but much of Southern Africa has been isolated from the rest of the world and this has resulted in its “own” form of development and problems. I think there’s a huge area where Southern Africa can now showcase its own growth to the rest of the world and in parallel, Southern Africa can benefit from development the rest of the world has to offer to solve its problems.
  4. What is your area of expertise – mobile development, healthcare, or the energy sector? Please talk a little bit about how you gained this expertise…
    I would be honest and say I am not a super expert in any one of the specific fields but I am regularly referred to as being the link between ideas and actions. I feel my skills are within the business area and the “design” of business models. I really enjoy “mapping” products and processes into working systems.
  5. Please share an idea for a technology (mobile, health, energy) that can solve a problem/s local to the South African region.
    Education is as much a part of your health and with the penetration of mobile devices there’s an opportunity to put a mobile classroom in every child’s hands. I would love to explore this area more and with some basic technology ideas I believe it can happen.
  6. Everyone has a special story. What is yours?
    It’s funny how often special stories start in the bedroom at home … mine is no different. 😉 I started what today is called “Shop Beat” and provide customised audio into the franchise and retail market via a small Box Based Broadcasting solution. It essentially delivers a 100% unique audio feed into any environment without the reliance of permanent internet which is often a “nice to have” in Africa. The generated feed is unique and accommodates hyper-localisation for the specific site.
  7. Are you sponsoring yourself or do you have sponsors? Please tell us about your sponsors…
    I’m sponsoring myself but I guess you could say Shop Beat, my business, is making it possible. 🙂

StartupBus Africa start-ups: Sterio.Me

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sterio.me

Image: Sterio.Me logo.

Sterio.Me engages young rural African learners through a simple, teacher-generated phone-call to reinforce learning outside the classroom.
In rural Africa, teachers face substantial difficulties engaging learners out of the classroom and an even bigger difficulty tracking their performance. There are some solutions on the market using data, video streaming, etc. which offer open-source and free educational materials however, not all learners have access to a smartphone or even stable data connections required to consume content. Using only GSM voice signal for quick quiz delivery, we are able to cover almost the entirety of the African continent.

Sterio.Me enables teachers to pre-record lessons and provide learners with a unique SMS code that routes to the quiz. When a learner texts this code, an automated and free VOIP call from our servers to the learner is triggered. This VOIP call is interactive, including multiple-choice answers and open-ended questions in the same way a call from your bank would work, but with the familiar voice of your teacher. The teachers receive real-time analytics on our platform. These analytics empower teachers to measure how their individual learners understand class content, as well as providing regional and national comparisons with other learners using the platform, allowing long-term tracking and measurable learning improvement.

This is a free platform for both for teachers and learners, with monetisation generated from both professional Sterio.Me creation and value add messaging. As such, we operate as a social, for-profit enterprise.
There will also be a marketplace for teachers to share their Sterio.Me quizzes amongst each other. In addition, we will work with local celebrity-created content to increase learner engagement in education and public information via Sterio.Me.
Sterio.Me was created on the bus by Christopher Pruijsen, Danielle Reid, and Dean Rotherham.

Check-out Sterio.Me on Twitter and Facebook and in the media: Vimeo, Vine, humanipo, TechMoran, and The Tech Guys.

StartupBus Africa start-ups: Workforce

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Workforce Logo

Image: Workforce logo.
Workforce, StartupBus Africa 2013 winner, is mobile-powered workforce planning on construction sites. Workforce is providing employers with Android-based mobile planning software, in order to successfully hire labor through a trusted and rated system. Labor will be able to reply to the demands of the employers, by submitting their availability through an SMS-based process, adapted to feature phones.
The following StartupBus Africa 2013 buspreneurs make-up the Workforce team: Zandile Lambu, Sarah Nahm, Michael Bumann, Cedric Franz, and Theophil Haberstroh.

Buspreneur interview with Samuel Osam Kyemenu-Sarsah

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Samuel Osam Kyemenu-Sarsah

Samuel Osam Kyemenu-Sarsah is a MEST fellow who humbly calls himself an aspiring entrepreneur. Having been involved in Google’s first ever Online Marketing Lab and working with international companies, makes Kyemenu-Sarsah an entrepreneur to be watched!

  1. Who are you? Describe yourself in 3 sentences.
    I am a 24 year old Ghanaian entrepreneur in training, best described by the words ‘passionate’ and ‘persistent’. I strongly believe in the need to leverage technology to build solutions for African problems. My aspiration is to build a globally successful software company that not only solves specific problems on this continent but also creates employment opportunities and serves as a role model for the next generation of entrepreneurs.
  2. What do you expect from your participation on the bus?
    My greatest expectation for StartupBus Africa is to meet like-minded entrepreneurs from different backgrounds who are also passionate about building solutions for Africa. I am looking forward to contributing to the products and solutions that will be created within the 5-day period. Mostly, I’m excited to see how those solutions will be applied not only in the South African region but in other parts of Africa too.
  3. Why Africa? Why now?
    The statistics speak for themselves: high growth in the African mobile sector, increasing internet penetration and the proliferation of smart devices all indicate the preparedness of Africa to embrace technology-based solutions. On a personal level, I feel there are more opportunities to collaborate with like-minded people in the technology space through events like StartupBus and incubators like MEST in Accra and the iHub in Nairobi.
  4. What is your area of expertise – mobile development, healthcare, or the energy sector? Please talk a little bit about how you gained this expertise…
    My areas of expertise are primarily in web development technologies, business development and online marketing. I have worked on a number of start-ups targeting the events industry, the fashion Industry and news aggregation. I have experience running online marketing campaigns and I was part of Google’s first ever Online Marketing Lab. I also have some experience in the clean energy sector after building a product for a wind energy company in the U.S.A.
  5. Please share an idea for a technology (mobile, health, energy) that can solve a problem/s local to the South African region.
    An online health assistance portal built on local payment systems that utilises the expertise of certified health professionals who would engage with the product. This app will enable widespread access to health advice via mobile phones at a much-reduced cost to patients.
  6. Everyone has a special story. What is yours?
    My story is not just mine; it is the story of several young people in Ghana, and to a larger extent, Africa. These young people and I have seen the enormous potential this continent holds and the need to foster that potential to create something amazing. I am also fortunate enough to have spent the past year and a half at MEST, an incredible post-graduate program and incubator which provides training, investment and mentoring for aspiring entrepreneurs in the software industry. MEST has a goal of helping these entrepreneurs create globally successful companies, and to a larger extent, transforming Africa into the next hub for software development.
  7. Are you sponsoring yourself or do you have sponsors? Please tell us about your sponsors…
    As a young African entrepreneur in training, my ability to sponsor a trip of this magnitude is limited. I have begun collecting donations via my GoFundMe campaign and I intend to pitch to additional sponsors to help cover any remaining costs following the campaign. If anyone would like to contribute, I would very much appreciate the support!

StartupBus Africa so far…

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Day 6

After a relatively short rest period at Riverlodge Backpackers, we made our way to Bandwith Barn – the oldest start-up incubator in Africa. Here we had breakfast as well as some much needed unlimited access to both Wifi and power.
We followed out visit to the Barn with a trip to 88mph where the buspreneurs got to network with English entrepreneurs affiliated with the International Conference on Electronics Computer Technology (ICECT). It was at 88mph that the bupreneurs took part in a panel about the African entrepreneurship space.

And, as you may have already ascertained, we don’t stop here at StartupBus Africa so our next stop was eKasi Entrepreneurs where we kicked-off pitching at 5pm! Our jury was made-up of a whole host of incredible people which included – at the venue – Brett Commaille (CEO at Angelhub), Manuel Koser (Silvertree Capital), Emilian Popa (CEO at sponsor African Internet Accelerator), Remo Giovanni Abbondandolo (CMO at sponsor African Internet Accelerator), Miranda Simrie (Managing Director at Crowdinvest), Kudzai Makomva (Deputy Country Director at Clinton Health Access Initiative Zimbabwe), and – remotely – Ben White (Founder and CEO at VC4Africa), as well as Ik Kanu (Vice President at sponsor Helios Investment Partners). The pitches yielded the following results: ‘Workforce’ claimed first prize, with Funeraly.ly and Bribed in joint second (For an awesome profile of the finals, see the Ventureburn article).

The pitching and judging process was followed by The Hook Up Dinner where the winners, ‘Workforce’, pitched for a second time.

And the buspreneurs kept going by ending StartupBus Africa in true style with partying on Long Street at Club 31 while yet others went bar hopping with the bus. What a wonderful finale to a truly phenomenal event, if we do say so ourselves.
Bandwidth Barn welcomes the StartupBus Africa buspreneurs.
Image: Bandwidth Barn welcomes the StartupBus Africa buspreneurs.
The buspreneurs interacting with some amazing English entrepreneurs affiliated with the ICECT.
Image: The buspreneurs interacting with some amazing English entrepreneurs affiliated with the ICECT.
The buspreneurs attend their final event, where ’Workforce’ pitched again, in the form of The Hook Up Dinner.
Image: The buspreneurs attend their final event, where ’Workforce’ pitched again, in the form of The Hook Up Dinner.

StartupBus Africa so far…

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Day 5
We woke to the sweet surrounds of our accommodation at Evergreen in Bloemfontein and started the morning by visiting the Central University of Technology of Bloemfontein (CUT). At CUT we were privy to a presentation about entrepreneurship as well as the university’s in-house accelerator. As interesting as this all was, our visit was made even better by a visit to a FabLab at CUT. The lab is focused on research around advanced technology projects; it is also a place for students to get practical experience during their studies. But we had a 1000 km’s to cover before we got to Cape Town so we hit the road; after a stop for lunch at Steers Diner at Shell Ultra City we were well on our way. Our trip was riddled with internet and power struggles however, as with all things StartupBus – we dealt with these extremes and we conquered. Also, we must say how incredibly grateful we are to our sponsor African Internet Accelerator (AIA) for doing their utmost to keep the Wifi working to keep us online! Technically, we arrived on ‘Day 6’ at 02:14am…

StartupBus Africa so far…

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Day 4

The buspreneurs spent the day in Braamfontein – one of Johannesburg’s innovation hubs. They were hosted by The Hook Up Dinner at the Branson Centre… Once again, the madness was abound with pitches and interviews and collaboration and such. As I sat at The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship South Africa, I looked down at the courtyard just outside Velo and I saw a frenzy of people setting-up for the buspreneurs pitches… The buspreneurs took part in the open air elevator pitch sessions that are taking place every day this week in Braamfontein, as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. A speedy session of pitches was followed by a Q&A session and lunch at famed restaurant Vuyo’s – here the buspreneurs got a taste of authentic South African cuisine in the form of borewors rolls. After all this excitement, it was hard to settle back into work but with some work beers to keep them going the buspreneurs made some awesome advances before getting on the bus and departing for Bloemfontein at around 17:30.

Open air elevator pitches about to get under way… (1)

Image: Open air elevator pitches about to get under way… (1)
Open air elevator pitches about to get under way… (2)
Image: Open air elevator pitches about to get under way… (2)
Gavin Meiring, The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship South Africa's Marketing and Communication Manager, at the open air elevator pitches.
Image: Gavin Meiring, The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship South Africa‘s Marketing and Communication Manager, at the open air elevator pitches.
The work beers arrive - thank-you to The Hook Up Dinner who made this possible through their affiliation with SAB.
Image: The work beers arrive – thank-you to The Hook Up Dinner who made this possible through their affiliation with SAB.

StartupBus Africa so far…

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Day 3

After an over night stay in the Soutpansberg region; everyone was back on the bus and the coding, developing, hacking, post-it noting, window diagram drawing, pitching, brainstorming, and, and had resumed!

We are working on African time yet we were early for our next hub stop at Seed Engine. Seed Engine is a business accelerator and the buspreneurs (together with the team) were so very excited to have place to work with Wifi access because there had been some complications with both the Wifi and power on board. Complications are the ultimate representation of the extremity of the StartupBus initiative… But, because we have such wonderful sponsors, African Internet Accelerator has flown someone up to reconfigure the Wifi so that on the way down to Bloemfontein the buspreneurs can be online as and when they choose!

And it was another long night at Seed Engine with pitches and interviews and brainstorms… We had the pleasure of being joined by various investors as well as the main man at Seed Engine, CEO Marc Elias, and what Seed engine calls ‘Adult Supervision’ in the form of Jeff Miller who is the CEO of Grovest.

Who needs wifi
Image: Forward we go with collaboration – who needs Wifi? 😉

Wifi Unlimited
Image: It’s Wifi! And unlimited power… Yay!