Top 5 South African startup developments in 2017

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South Africa continues to grow its reputation as a leader in tech innovation on the continent over the course of 2017, with various new product launches, accelerator arrivals, and large funding rounds.

But what were Disrupt Africa’s choices when it comes to the major moments of the last year?

SA startups expand abroad

Increasingly, South African startups are spreading their wings and expanding outside of the country. This speaks to the growing maturity of the startups in the local scene, and the need to reach more markets in order to reach scale.

South African companies are not all looking at the rest of the continent, however, with plenty instead expanding into non-African markets as a first port of call. Mama Money, Snapplify, Electrum, FinChatBot, ConnectMed, SweepSouth and Quicket are all expanding to other African countries, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Among the startups looking even further afield are SeeBox, NuvaLaw and IoT.nxt.

Startupbootcamp arrives

There has been a growing trend of major overseas accelerators getting more involved in Africa over the last few years, and 2017 saw Startupbootcamp take its first plunge with the launch of its first African programme.

Cape Town was chosen as the base for the inaugural programme, with 10 startups from across the continent were selected to take place – including seven from South Africa.

The programme concluded recently with a demo day, where it was announced participating startups had signed a total of 32 corporate deals over the course of the accelerator.

Money, money, money

Funding continues to flood in for South African startups: expect the country to feature right near the top of the list when Disrupt Africa releases its annual funding report next month.

2017 saw the deals come thick and fast, across a variety of sub-sectors. Here’s a quick whistle stop tour of just a few of these rounds.

Entersekt. Iot.nxt. hearX Group. Xineoh. Domestly. WhereIsMyTransport. Yoco. NicheStreem. Pargo. Quicket. AllLife. SweepSouth. CarZar. Aerobotics. SnapnSave. getWorth. Wala. The Sun Exchange. Naked Insurance. i-Pay.

Investors converge on Cape Town

A key moment for the tech scene in South Africa – and Africa in general – came in November, when hundreds of investors from across the continent and beyond converged on Cape Town for the latest African Angel Investor Summit.

By far the biggest and best such event thus far, it demonstrated how far the African angel scene has come, as investors came together to network, discuss deals, and meet the startups participating in the World Bank’s XL Africa programme.

You can find all of Disrupt Africa’s coverage here, but major takeaways include that African angel investors should “hunt in packs”, investors should focus on “gazelles” rather than “unicorns”, and that African startup ecosystems will not be built overnight.

WumDrop acquired

Big news towards the end of the year as cash and carry chain store Makro acquired a majority stake in South African last mile delivery startup WumDrop, in a move that will allow it to speed up delivery of orders to customers.

The purchase of a majority stake in the company will allow Makro to shrink the window between customer order placement and delivery from three days to three hours for customers located within 20 kilometres of a Makro store.

WumDrop said the deal will also cement its ability to offer lower and simpler, flat prices across the board, the benefit of which will be passed on to new and existing WumDrop customers, which include The Foschini Group, BOTTLES, Standard Bank, and Zando.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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