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ZOL Startup Challenge 2013 finals: D-Day is nigh!

ZOl Startup Challenge 2013Tomorrow marks the pinnacle of the 2013 ZOL Startup Challenge. What began as a list of 44 applications has gone through a rigorous pitching , feedback and refinement process of with 5 teams remaining. It’s been yet another exciting journey filled with learning and collaboration. All the best to each of the five startups and all that participated. Building Startups isn’t easy, keep on at it!

The five finalists, in no particular order:
Founder: Nyasha Madzima, Johane Mpofu&  Danny Madzimbamuto
BlackToe TV is a portal that covers the local entertainment scene. It differentiates itself from other offerings by focusing on video content. According to its founders, the Black Toe vision is to cover every entertainment event that takes place locally and to also provide local content producers with a medium through which they can monetize their talents.
Founders: Chenjerai Katanda & Eunice Kadiki
Front Row is an internet magazine that covers the school sports scene in Zimbabwe. School sports are rarely given adequate attention in mainstream mediums, naturally because professional sports command the bulk of the attention. Frontrow is filling a sizable void for parents, school officials and ultimately students themselves who are all eager to keep up with relevant sporting developments.

Founders: Ndafara K. Tsamba & Batanai Zengeni
Testlabs is unique amongst the finalists in that it has a website but a core offline product. It is seeking to empower hundreds of provisional license applicants with a more modern way to master the rules of the road. This is achieved through it’s Provlabs product which is sold on a CD.

Founder: Richard Nyasha Kaseke, Kudzai Tuso & Komborerai Murimba
Spryads is a local advertising network for online advertising. It seeks to be a dedicated advertising network through which local advertisers can get access to relevant local audiences. The platform is exiting beta testing.
Founders:  Rumbie Charlene Nkomo & Aurther Shoko
ZimboKitchen is an online based resource that contains Zimbabwean recipes. From traditional delicacies to international offerings, ZimboKitchen is packed with enticing visual guides that enable anyone to prepare a meal. It maintains it’s Zimbabwean flair even for international recipes by recommending local ingredients. ZimboKitchen is reaching out to Zimbabweans locally and around the world with a practical offering for them to maintain their Zimbabwean roots.

You can follow the challenge as it happens using the #ZOLStartupChallenge hashtag.

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11 thoughts on “ZOL Startup Challenge 2013 finals: D-Day is nigh!

  1. Spryads (online advertising network) should take the crown although testlabs (Provisional Licence Exam Practice Software) is also a contender.

    I have a feeling the panel of judges favor FrontrowZim (blog startup), note techzim who we owe much for the tech revolution in zimbabwe is also a blog startup.

    Funny enough if spryads succeeds, all blogs including frontrowzim & techzim will use spryads. + There are 3 blogs as finalists this year that is frontrowzim, zimbokitchen and (video blog).

    But thats me pushing the cart before the horse. tomorrow we shall see.

    I suggest all the judges read this article before tomorrows event .

    1. OH MY WORD!

      I didn’t know there was such a site in Zimbabwe! Now that’s what we call WRITING! I’m keeping a tab on this one, did you see the coverage of the first zol startup event done on that blog?! MY WORD

      Who’re these guys!! thanks, you’ve made my night Greg!

      Everyone check out, it will give you a different perspective for sure!

  2. @gregkawere:disqus yes, there are a lot of blogs on that list for sure.

    Lastly and more importantly, Techzim is NOT a startup and can never be categorized as one. Techzim is a blog and would qualify as a small business.

    Read Paul Graham’s post on growth to understand how a startup is different from a small business. You can also search on Google for David McClure’s definition which taught me a lot in my thesis this year on my dissertations on Business & Startups.

  3. This should be obvious. 3 of them (Zimbokitchen, Blacktoe(dot)tv, Frontrowzim) are basically blogs. Nothing original. Tomorrow, we can have 4 of each using templates. There’s no innovation and they won’t make money. Testlabs and Spryads, that’s where the real competition is.

  4. Guys, I think you’re totally missing it and I think the problem is you’re looking at it for cool technology’s sake. And maybe check again what “Innovation” means, coz I’m also getting you want innovation to be the coolest idea.
    Cool tech is not equal to viable business. And unfortunately this is the biggest mistake techies make building startups. A startup is a business first. The difference with regular business is that its built to scale (hence your “Startup = Growth”
    @c059b0821f11c15bbb2ab8dc343bc34b:disqus ). But Business first. Tech aside, the model has to make sense. And the model is not the cool technology.
    The more, as techies, we’re immerse ourselves in silicon valley coolness where mind blowing tech “innovation” is what results in business (and most of the time we’re reading Silicon Valley wrong btw) the more we’re disconnect from what building a business means and no wonder we complain about it being so hard to raise money locally even from experienced entrepreneurs who have the amounts we seek. We’re pitching cool tech, they’re looking for the business, even long term. Business Model! Business, not technology. Tech is just the vehicle! Tech is the enabler and not the business itself.

    Saying a blog’s chance’s as a startup are zero is pretending you don’t know the huffington’s post story. $315 acquisition for just a blog. I could go on and on with examples but I’d be insulting your intelligence.

    Blogs are content businesses. Blogs are not cool technology. very far from cool, but they use existing tech to create needed content. The business is the content problem/need solved, not the tech.

    Testlabs and Spryads are brilliant ideas too! But they too are businesses first and not tech. They too need to build strong brands based on solving a problem/need. And from there scale like mad.

    We can spend a lifetime arguing (and quoting silicon valley greats) about what the word ‘startup’ means and how startups differ from small business like Techzim, but what would be the point? Go build a successful African startup, then come teach small time entrepreneurs how they can build their small business into successful startups too. Zimbabwe needs business mentorship like crazy.

    In the mean time, know that the startup challenge judges have one thing in common: they have all built and led businesses in Zimbabwe and Africa. Some, some of the biggest in their verticals in the countries they operate. And some have exited their tech businesses quite well. When they judge, they are looking for businesses that can scale. They are not looking for cool tech. And unfortunately, this is still the one thing they keep stressing to the pitching entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs would do good to listen.

    1. You’re wrong Kabweza. You have said very little in so many words. In as far as business is concerned, the blogs basically have models around advertising. Now, EVERY blog in ZImbabwe sells advertising. So what’s new? What’s the innovation? That instead of a hard recipe book, school magazines and pirated disks, recipes, school sports and videos can be published online? There is no innovation there. Your response actually sounds subjective. Sounds like it’s already decided!

        1. The main issue is that we all assumed that this was a technology startup competition so we expected to see businesses that offered a technical solution to a problem in the form of a product or a service.

          Its like seeing a shoemaker winning an agri startup challenge.

          But i have since re-read the competition headline & noticed that its called the Techzim Surge and the ZOL Startup Challenge (sic).

          I think most people read this “The Surge 13 conference is for startup entrepreneurs and everyone passionate about moving Zimbabwe’s technology scene forward.”

          But guess that was a typo, meaning any type of business could have joined from shoe makers, chicken farmers & soap makers e.t.c. As long as they had a viable product or service with market potential.

          So looking forward to a tech startup challenge from Tech(zim) sooner rather than later.

          So kudos to Frontrowzim for winning the Techzim Surge and the ZOL Startup Challenge (sic).

          But you have to agree that its kinda ironic that that we had 3 blogs as finalists in a startup challenge that was facilitated by a business that has the same business model as in Techzim is a blog.

          In retrospect wouldn’t it be great to see Frontrowzim being acquired by Alpha Media in the not too distant future for a cool $315 000 price stag in line with their digital first strategy.

          That should surely silence all those arm chair critics & wannabe tech entrepreneurs.

          We love you Techzim.

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