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Here are this year’s ZOL Startup Challenge winners

They came. They pitched. Got feedback. Refined their pitches. And today the finals of the ZOL Startup Challenge took place! So we’re excited the winners of the challenge this year. First place goes to Schools Sports Network, a sports media startup focusing on schools. They just changed their name from Frontrowzim so most of the branding on their site and social pages still has that. SSN get $5,000 cash and $5,000 worth or Internet services sponsored by ZOL.

The runners-up this year are (in no particular order btw), Testlabs with their Provlabs application, and ZimboKitchen. The runners-up each get $2,500 cash and $2,500 in ZOL internet services.

Runners-up Testlabs, pitching at the ZOL Startup Challenge Finals today
Runners-up Testlabs, pitching at the ZOL Startup Challenge Finals today
Runners-up Zimbokitchen, pitching today at the ZOL Startup Challenge finals
Runners-up Zimbokitchen, pitching today at the ZOL Startup Challenge finals

We’ll be posting more about the challenge later!

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25 thoughts on “Here are this year’s ZOL Startup Challenge winners

  1. Whoa! This competition is really a joke. The winner is a news website for high school sports? that’s as far as zimbabweans can ‘innovate’? and then the next, one talking about soups? either, your bar is too low or ZOL startup challenge is a joke.

    1. well, to be fair, i dont see you on the list of entrants who demonstrated anything better? and you’re clearly not a person who has created a game changing app or idea in zim so far? so my advice to you then would be to either do better than what you have commented on, or give these people credit, where credit is due for their efforts.

      1. Josh is right imho, we zimbos embrace mediocrity too much. we need to think big, period. there are some ppl like Josh and me who are not satisfied with “just good enough”. truthfully when you visiting the ssn site is not an experience at all.

        1. We all need to start from somewhere dont we? Josh, FB, google, linkedin etc started where? Allan although josh didnt have anything to bring to the challenge he also has a point. Lets all try and come up with ideas that solve the problems we face in our day to day lives. Even if they start small at a community level, like what SSN are doing. I like Zimbokitchen because they are offering a recipe ‘documentation’ platform. And finally the important thing is we have started to come up with our ideas. They can only get better

    2. At Josh Phiri i think the ZOL startup challenge is really one of the most exciting events in the IT industry for Zimbabwe.Its about building a culture and promoting upcoming entrepreneurs in IT who might never get the chance to be heard.Lets contribute positively to IT growth in ZIM,really there has to be a starting point and this is it.

    3. You are right my brother, this is shallow and uninspiring. I am just wondering where zimbo geeks are, if you are one of them, PLEASE STAND UP?

    4. i concur, not to cast any aspersions or disparaging remarks but this is silly to be honest, the whole theme, actually..

  2. Come on, is this the innovation we want in zim. Guyz we need better winners than this. We need real startups not websites.

  3. How about next time the panels looks for zimbabwean products that are actually running l bet many people who have great ideas can put them online etc but do not have the time not out of disrespect but lack of it to go for this

  4. Congratulations SSN. We are behind you and wish you all the best after such a tight race. This is the beginning of bigger things. Please continue to improve your product in the best ways you can using the best people you can. What is destined shall be!

      1. Why the name change? I never became attached to your product but FrontRowZim has a much better ring to it.

  5. The comments by people lamenting whether that this is Zimbabwe innovation are understandably if they are being said by a person who has never been to ZOL startup challenge. The problem is not that we are not having proper inventions. There are plenty of them. In the past editions I have seen a lot of excellent innovations. However I must quickly point out that this competition is sponsored by ZOL and so they have their criteria for selecting the winners. The issue is not about coming up with a complicated invention but coming with something that can generate money. Its really difficult these days to come with inventions that can put food on the tables. But when I see all the people that won there I really see them monetizing their inventions. A website is better than inventing a graphics software which is difficult to monetize. Congratulations to the winners.

  6. This is such a joke. i agree with you @joshphiri:disqus , how come they say we want innovation in Zimbabwe when they look for something that is a blog that will make money our of ads only. Yes i know we love sport but out of the 5 contestants these guys were not suppose to win, was expecting, test labs or SpryAds because there is more money into it and future is there. Maybe they didn’t understand what these other products do. The adverts on his website FrontRaw can even get more money when using SpryAds which was one of the competitors, so how do u say it in that way, the guys who won can use SpryAds service to get more money. lolol, Its a joke.

    1. It would be limiting yourself to think that profitability and (what u believe is) innovation are the only metrics in startups. There’s also value addition of the product. I find Zimbo kitchen to be not only money spinning beyond your limits in ads but they actually add value to the consumers of that site. Vs an ad company, the social impact is high.

      They are preserving traditional and contemporary, purely Zim dishes. Their value is in the unique content. That my friend is the advertising goldmine. Now its up to them to make money out of it.

      Spryads should be running to them as I see potential interest from the Zim food industry. You have a misinformed fixation that something with bells and whistles is what makes money. And that the ease & simplicity of setting up a blog has an inverse relationship to it being a viable basis for a startup.

      Your loss


      Congrats to all who won,the runners up,the finalists and those who bothered to try. I wouldn’t give up if I was convinced my idea would work.

  7. While we are this issue of ZOL, I would like to take the opportunity to vent my frustration on their marketing gimicks, I was told if I reffed some one to sign up for this new wimax modem I would get free subscription for a month for up to 12 months which i did, not just that I was asked to write an email by the sales team with the zol ids’ of the people I reffered upto now my account has not been credited. I went to an ICT conference which zol was participating and they confirmed this. Up to now I am only getting a run around from the sales team. Kindly confirm if this will happen or not but you cannot get away with lying to customers.

  8. The Real Geeks gave up a long time ago on these stupid ZOL start-up jokes………for me REAL innovation is something that has never been done before….You cannot tell me this is the most innovative idea in terms of technology in Zimbabwe……..ITS EMBARRASSING I tell you…….A website winning at a tech-start-up challenge…is surely in the same league as a chicken rearing project winning a business start-up challenge…….When will Zimbabweans start to innovate outside the freaking BOX……If i was the judge i would send the top 5 guys home packing and keep the money……WHY? BECAUSE i have seen all that stuff somewhere before……..from the SpryAds whatever ,Zimbo Chicken, Testis Lab to the School website……..Its unbelievable i tell you……is this what we need in Zimbabwe?…Can we really use technology to SAVE our communities….Do we have such stinkin CopyCat DNA like that?………But anyway this is ZOL and Techzim…Non has ever done anything unique for zimbabwe…..they just repackage products that have worked in developed countries….and then add a …ZIMbabwe at the end or start of their names…….(TechZIM…….ZIMbabwe Online)…..FREAKING GIVE US SOMETHING NEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. dissapointing if you really check out the ssn website the “innoavtion” is the unique content thats just about it. no serious coding skills can be seen. i think a think a good startup should cover the whole spectrum from the interface design, back-end development and the monetary potential. but hey the judges know what they where looking for.

    1. coding skills are useless if they don’t translate to something of value.
      don’t worry…. if u havnt learnt the lesson like some of us have(in pain) you will at some point

  10. Innovation has varying levels. It’s not always tied to some ground breaking tech invention – it can be tied to solving a common problem, looking at how to communicate with customers differently – it just depends. If you look at the rules laid out the requirement was for a start-up. Start-ups need to prove that they have the potentional for growth and can be self-sustaining over time. Another thing to think about is context of country -Zimbabwe is still in its infancy when it comes to tech. Yes maybe we want to see massive shifts come into the market- but sometimes your target consumers are not ready for that yet. I think these programmes are great as they are encouraging young people to start thinking about scalability, and profitability.

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