Groupon South Africa chief executive officer (CEO) Daniel Guasco has been elected as the new chairperson on Western Cape startup initiative Silicon Cape, replacing Alexandra Fraser, who spent two years in the job.
Guasco – who claims to have started his first business at the age of 12 with a driver as his first employee – started Twangoo with Wayne Gosling and subsequently sold it to Groupon, for which he is now chief executive officer (CEO) in South Africa. He is also an angel investor, and recently took part in the 88mph DealWeek programme.
Silicon Cape was founded in 2009 by investor Justin Stanford and entrepreneur Vinny Lingham, and in October raised more than ZAR3 million (US$270,000) in funding from South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB), which is being used to expand its operations.
“I am honoured and privileged to be taking over from Alexandra who has lead the organisation with some incredible and tangible results most notably the recent funding from FNB,” Guasco said.
“Alexandra has set the bar for the new incumbents assuming positions. To the past committee members who dedicated much time and effort to selfishly drive South Africa’s largest tech entrepreneurial network, thank you.”
Fraser remains in the new committee as vice chairperson and head of Stakeholder Relations, with Lianne du Toit also vice chairperson. Roger Norton was elected head of Finance and Governance, with Baratang Miya heading up the Transformation Portfolio and Zimkhita Buwa the Women Portfolio.
Sumarie Roodt and Elizabeth Gould share Students and Careers, as do Roy Mathieu Borole and Guillaume de Smedt with Startup Relations. Deidre Luzmore and Lauren Wallet share Marketing and Communications, with Vasili Sofiadellis taking Investor Relations, Nevo Haddas at Fundraising, Matt Cohen covering Developer Relations, and James Milne at Government Relations.
Silicon Cape is also in the process of establishing an advisory committee of entrepreneurs, hiring a general manager and new coordinators.
“With these additional resources and energy, Silicon Cape hopes to further cement its position as the largest tech entrepreneurial network that is all inclusive and self-sustaining,” said Guasco.
Fraser told Disrupt Africa in November the organisation was not trying to be the Silicon Valley of Africa and must instead play to its own strengths as it looks to become a regional hub.
“The potential for us to be a major hub in Africa is certainly there, it is about how do we strengthen all of the hubs because we need a network for entrepreneurs to navigate across and expand businesses,” she said.