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38 emerging South African tech entrepreneurs to watch [Part I]

The technology space is particularly notable for the amount of entrepreneurial activity it attracts. The word “startup” has become almost synonymous with the tech and online space and there are thousands of entrepreneurs that run small and large companies that are carving out niches for themselves.

The high amount of entrepreneurial activity in the tech sector may be explained by the fact that the costs of starting an online business are low. You don’t need a factory or heavy-lifting equipment to start an online business, and the people found in the sector are highly skilled.

Also, we all know about the inspirational stories about how the world’s biggest social network was founded in a university dorm room, or about how the world’s biggest encyclopedia was founded on a fractional budget, and with almost no permanent staff. The world’s biggest search engine was founded by two guys while at university. The list goes on, and it is inspirational.

It’s stories like these that make us realise why the tech sector attracts so many of the world’s top entrepreneurs and why there is so much “startup” activity.

It’s also why one of the country’s oldest companies, Old Mutual — itself founded by a group of entrepreneurs in the 1800s who decided to pool some cash — decided to honour some of the country’s “top” tech entrepreneurs at the NetProphet conference on Thursday. The company has created an “Entrepreneurship Guide” that pools the collective wisdom and advice from these selected 38 entrepreneurs for others to follow. The project is living, breathing and ongoing — more entrepreneurs, not just in the tech sector, will be added over time.

Here are the 38 emerging tech entrepreneurs to watch (Part One):

Patrick Kayton (Cognician) — Co-founder of Cognician, with his brother, Barry. He dreams of being able to take a holiday with his fiancé.

Justin Stanford (4Di Capital) — CEO of 4Di Capital, who collects beautiful automobiles and starts companies in a way that makes business look like a pleasant hobby.

Mark Allewell (Tourism Radio and Hummba.com) — CEO of Tourism Radio and Hummba.com who is a rolling stone at heart. The travelling kind, not the ageing rocker kind. Although that can work too.

Rob Gilmour (RSA Web) — MD of RSA Web who has completed two Cape Epic cycle tours and just became a dad.

Shana Kay (Infointeg) — A serial entrepreneur who does an uncanny impression of a lemur.

Peter Flynn (White Wall Web & ProfessionL) — Co-founder of White Wall Web and ProfessionL, who once flew to San Francisco with a baby in his lap. Kudos.

Robyn Astl (Faithful to Nature) — Co-founder of Faithful to Nature, who is proudly expecting her first child later this year.

Christian Astl (Faithful to Nature) — Co-founder of Faithful to Nature, who is nervously expecting his first child later this year and currently practicing his care-giving with a puppy.

Sheraan Amod (Personera) — Co-founder of Personera and one of South Africa’s Brightest Young Minds in 2007, who missed a fair amount of the conference because he was starting a business with his co-founder.

Jaco De Wet (Personera) — Co-founder of Personera and another one of South Africa’s Brightest Young Minds in 2007, who arrived at the conference as an industrial designer and left an entrepreneur.

Barry Kayton (Cognician) — Co-founder of Cognician, with his brother, Patrick. He dreams of one day being able to read again.

Rob Stokes (Quirk eMarketing) — Founder of Quirk eMarketing and Chairman of the Silicon Cape Initiative who would love to spend more time fly fishing.

Eric Edelstein (Springleap and Evly.com) — Co-founder of Springleap and Evly.com with his friend Eran of 29 years. Currently on a capital-raising tour of San Francisco.

Eran Eyal (Springleap and Evly.com) — Co-founder of Springleap and Evly.com with his friend Eric of 29 years. Wearer of fine jackets and hats.

Henk Kleynhans (Skyrove) — Co-founder of Skyrove, maker of awesome wifi hotspots, and debunker of all things pseudoscientific.

Rich Mulholland (Missing Link) — Founder of Missing Link and magnanimous host of what are undoubtedly the coolest offices in the country. Go visit. You’ll see!

Kerrin Black (TalentFinders.com) — Founder of TalentFinders.com and without doubt the most tenacious entrepreneur on this list.

Cath Luckhoff (Mango OMC) — Founder of Mango OMC who is leading the charge to reinhabit the Jozi inner city.

KK Diaz (Rekopane Payroll Services) — Founder of Rekopane Payroll Services, part-time music producer and full-time dad.

Barbara Mallinson (Obami) — Founder of Obami who has not only made it permissable for kids to be on a social network at school, but also safe.

Guy Taylor (10Layer) — Co-founder of 10Layer with an alter-ego who fights by night. Or day. Or whenever the mood grabs him, really.

Jason Norwood-Young (10Layer) — Co-founder of 10Layer and a reformed journalist with a three-year-old who says some hysterical things on Twitter.

Yossi Hasson (Synaq) — Co-founder of Synaq, who looks a lot like the guy from prison break, only he’s smarter.

David Jacobson (Synaq) — Co-founder Synaq and reformed big-system hacker with a heart.

Justin Spratt (Former IS Labs) — Co-founder of IS Labs, CEO of Quirk and the patron saint of South African start-ups.

Mike Stopforth (Cerebra) — Co-founder of Cerebra who loves Aston Martins, classic rock and his kids, from whom he is constantly learning.

Craig Rodney (Cerebra) — MD of Cerebra who launched Ubuntu worldwide, even though he was once told that his laziness is his best quality.

Wesley Lynch (Realm Digital) — Founder of Realm Digital, who has the lowest staff attrition over ten years of anyone on this list and the only guy to say he couldn’t have started the company without his wife, which makes him officially the nicest guy of them all, against very tough competition.

Duncan Forrest (The Dating Lab) — Co-founder of The Dating Lab, who unquestionably has more girls’ phone numbers than anyone in the country.

Mark Levitt (Chesscube) — Co-founder of Chesscube, recovered diabetic and four-time South African chess champion.

Nic Haralambous (Motribe) — Co-founder of Motribe. The only thing to grow faster than their user base was his moustache during Movember.

Vincent Maher (Motribe) — Co-founder of Motribe who moved his family to the Silicon Cape to launch this mobile giant in the making.

Marlon Parker (RLabs and Jamiix) — Co-founder of Jamiix, and the only social entrepreneur on the list, who recently spread the love to Indonesia by starting RLabs Asia.

Rapelang Rabana (Yeigo Communications) — Co-founder of Yeigo Communications, who has a bath in her office. Which at first seems confusing, but on deeper introspection is really quite nice.

Jason Adriaan (Local List) — Founder of Local List, who is the only founder still at university. The lucky bastard!

Matthew Buckland (Creative Spark and Memeburn) — Founder of Creative Spark and Memeburn, who endures many hardships and stresses to bring you fine tech and business commentary.

Andrew Smith (Yuppie Chef) — Co-founder of Yuppie Chef, who has made it possible for South Africans to flip their eggs in style.

Jason Xenopoulos (Native) — CEO of Native, award winning film director and father of triplets. Seriously.

  • See full guide here

    Author | Catherine Murray: Columnist

    Catherine Murray: Columnist
    Catherine is currently the Senior Account Manager at Creative Spark Interactive in Cape Town, where she is attempting to whip everyone into shape at breakneck speed. Prior to this she was Head of Online at Atalink Ltd, a specialist publishing company based in Central London for 5 years, where... More