Friday, 31 May 2013 10:25

SA startups showcased at Italian conference

The startup ecosystem in Southern Africa is among the healthiest in the world.

That's what Mamba Mentors founder James Durrant told a packed audience at the Bloom conference in Milan. U-Start, the organisers of the conference, had invited Durrant to speak at and moderate a special panel on South African startups and their international links. He used the opportunity to showcase just how important it is for investors to look closely at the region, backing up his statements with hard facts about Southern Africa's world rankings in auditing, access to financial services and Internet use.

“I know a bit about startups,” Durrant told the panel, “having personally started and invested in a number of businesses in the area, from food manufacturing to publishing to technology. It seemed logical to launch Mamba Mentors, the entrepreneur program I run out of London with a group of private investors.

This was all in preparation for the pitching. After Durrant's keynote address, entrepreneurs from startups such as Wabona and Ad:Dynamo had five minutes each to pitch their concepts to investors.

Durrant's panel was one of several at the conference. Others focussed on startup communities such as those in Brazil, Italy and Russia, with speakers including U-Start head Stefano Guidotti and Marcelo Sales Rodrigues Ferreira, founder of Brazilian startup accelerator 21212.

“There was a great spread of pitches at the conference,” Durrant later said. “It was a well-organised event, and offered some amazing opportunities for networking as well as some great business ideas.”