Sparkup! startup accelerator shaping the entrepreneurial community one startup at a time

Sparkup!’s intense grooming Weekend Programme continues to play its part in shaping and refining some of the most innovative early stage startups in South Africa.

Meet Crew Pencil, Pyromaniacs, FarmBoek, SpaceBox, Round Shopper and BoxChamp. These startup businesses recently pitched to a handful of South Africa’s most influential Angel Investors at Sparkup! Live Investment in Cape Town. Investment, mentorships and business cards were on the table.

Six years since the formation of Net Prophet’s offshoot accelerator programme, Sparkup!, and community interest and industry support proves that there is a burning need for growth of initiatives of this nature.

The Sparkup! Weekend Programme, founded by Mentorcamp’s Permjot Valia and the RAMP Foundation’s Rob Gilmour, continues to offer world class intensive training, mentorship and peer reviews. Sponsored by Saratoga and RSA Web, and supported by Silicon Cape, UCT GSB, PayFast, 22Seven, Tidy & Co, and Nashua, the Weekend Programme is meticulously designed to prepare and groom tech enabled startups in just 32 hours. The cornerstone of the weekend experience is to hone their business thinking and to get them investor ready. Ultimately, to pitch at Sparkup! Live. For many, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to engage with active venture capitalists.

Only eleven startup teams were selected from the over 75 applications to be part of the 2016 Sparkup! Weekend Programme. Successful businesses were diverse in ideas and consistent in calibre. Geographically, they hailed from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Zimbabwe and even Jan Kempdorp. Business’ included: BoxChamp, Cloudlife, Crew Pencil, Farmboek, Findhire, Pyromaniacs, ReMe, Round Shopper, SpaceBox, TenderPoint SA and Tutorfy.

The Weekend Programme took place from the 1-3 April at the University of Cape Town’s Solutions Space in the Graduate School of Business. Over three intense days, participants were given access to the A-list of industry experts, coaches and mentors led by Trend Strategist John Sanei.

On Sunday 3 April, a panel of celebrity judges –  Ernst Hertzog (Action Hero Ventures), Nandi Solomon (Citadel), Mark Forrester (Woo Themes), Mark Slingsby (RSA Web), and Philip Kiracofe (Horizon Ventures)vetted and voted on their favourites for Sparkup! Live:

  • BoxChamp – an all-in-one gym/member management software brand, streamlining admin and performance tracking
  • Crew Pencil – an online crew booking and diary service for the film industry.
  • FarmBoek – a dynamic online platform that can house the entire agricultural
    industry and connected industries in a structured way, yet it is easy to use.
  • Pyromaniacs – an engaging new educational chemistry game, which rewards scientific experimentation and keeps girls in STEM
  • Round Shopper – a B2B online & SMS platform that empowers small grocery retailers to order stock directly from manufacturers
  • SpaceBox–  a smart storage solution service with an online management platform that collects, stores and returns your items on demand


Spark Up Logos

22Seven hosted the Live Investment pitch event on the 4th of April 2016. The turnout was as diverse as the startups practicing their pitches in the wings. It was a full house of investors, entrepreneurs, Sparkup! alumni members and the curious all hoping to have their first pick at the talent. Six dynamic teams pitched their businesses to four seasoned venture capitalists, namely Pieter de Villiers (ClickaTell), Manuel Koser (Silvertree Capital), Llew Claasen (Newtown Partners) and Brett Commaille (AngelHub Ventures).

An enthusiastic audience witnessed teams being grilled by investors proving that data is key to every startup. Genuine advice, hard questions and humour punctuated the evening, here are a few of the highlights:

A slick pitch from Danmor Zembe from Round Shopper and Manuel Koser and Pieter de Villiers were ready to talk business. Drawing insight from currently existing models of similar ideas, the Zimbabwean team were given a life line to meet with investors and to collaborate with corporate giants such as Shoprite.

The first challenge of the night went to FarmBoek with Pieter de Villiers offering to invest if the farmers, Andre Groenewald and Johannes Abbott, meet their projected profit for the quarter. Much enthusiasm from the crowd with de Villiers handing over his business card.

Sea Monster’s game Pyromaniacs garnered offers of face-to-face sessions with all four of the angel investors. In an interesting twist, much interest was shown in the Sea Monster business itself as an investment opportunity.

Mark Fawzy delivered the final pitch of the evening for BoxChamp. Nail biting to the end, the night’s highlight had to be Newtown Partners’ Llew Claasen R1M offer to BoxChamp. Catcalls of #TakeTheMeeting.

Tweets SparkUp

Building a sustainable South Africa through entrepreneurship and economic growth

For this innovative spirit to grow it requires that we nurture it and invest in it. Sparkup! is free to attend, thanks to its generous sponsors, such as Saratoga, RSA Web, UCT GSB and PayFast, and it takes no equity from the businesses upon investment. Sparkup! encourage brands and companies to engage and contribute towards the future of startups and entrepreneurs in South Africa and beyond.

The ultimate goal – to build a sustainable South Africa through entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Khayelitsha Christian Academy