Has crowdfunding phenomenon Kickstarter made its way to SA? Not quite, but South African Breweries (SAB) have created their own version of it, stirring up great excitement amongst the country’s young entrepreneurs.
Often in the headlines lately for its impending ground-breaking merger with AB InBev, SAB made a few waves earlier this year with its KickStart Ignite programme. Partnering with FET (Further Education and Training) colleges, the initiative promotes industrial innovation among students.
The programme, which has been well received by the public, aims to encourage young entrepreneurs to make prototypes and commercialise their ideas, in order to create sustainable enterprises in SA. The winners also receive their share of R20-million to help get their business started.
SAB travelled to various universities across the country to select eligible contenders between the ages of 18 and 35. Each of the 150 contestants was given two minutes to pitch their idea, concept or product to a panel of industry experts. Of course there were a few terms and conditions to consider – the prototypes had to be created using one or more of the following materials and methods: metal, leather, wood, 3D printing, laser and vinyl cutting, CAD/CAM software design programs and electronics. There also needed to be an evident focus on the development of ‘Internet of Things’ technology with prototyping and programming software such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino.
“Each of the 150 contestants was given two minutes to pitch their idea, concept or product”
These top eight candidates were among those who emerged as the cream of the crop after SAB’s judges deliberated:
- Thato Motloung, who is eager to manufacture medical equipment to be sold as kits to medical graduates. Her prototype presented was a stethoscope.
- Vusi Qwabe, who wants to manufacture a much-needed medical device to help with a man’s healing process after circumcision.
- Kutullo Makgatho, with an idea to design a smart bracelet baby monitor that allows parents to literally keep an ear on their baby, via an earpiece.
- Gift Nkosi, who has the idea of manufacturing durable baskets made from PVC pipes and plastic materials.
- Siphiwe Ngwenya wants to reduce traffic congestion and pollution by manufacturing bicycles to sell to the public.
- Jens Horber presented the idea of manufacturing foldable furniture that allows quick and easy moving for students.
- Nathacia Olivier, who is enthusiastic about manufacturing environmentally-friendly beauty products specifically for use in the harsh African climate.
- Mokgadi Manabalala, who wants to create a driving simulation app that will enable insurance companies and drivers to track driving patterns.
The eight contestants were chosen according to how viable their prototype or idea would be in terms of a startup business. They were each invited to attend a one-day boot camp with business professionals who assisted them with refining their concept and business idea.
What comes next? A six-month Maker Boot Camp has been set up for each of the finalists. This boot camp is aimed at providing these entrepreneurs with mentorship and training. They will also receive a monthly stipend and seed growth capital to launch their startup and get their business off the ground.