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ADFIRE CREATIVE M3DIA, Newtech Rail, Stokvella win Get In The Ring SA

A revolutionary rail section insulator, a one-of-a-kind Anamorphic 3D application and a concept for mobile stokvel management have emerged as the winners of the South African Get in the Ring entrepreneurship challenge. The three winning companies will represent South Africa in African regional finals in January. Get in the Ring, an international business challenge described as the ‘Olympics for Startups’, is a platform for businesses to compete for top honours and funding opportunities.

Contestants from over 80 countries vie for a spot in national then regional finals, after which the regional winners will go on to compete in the ring at the international finals. Over 10 000 start-ups worldwide now participate in the competition. Get in the Ring is presented locally by the REAL Entrepreneur Institute (Pty) Ltd in partnership with the Dutch Embassy of South Africa, Heineken, North West University Vaal, The Innovation Hub, and Silicon Cape. The event, now in its second year in South Africa, is growing fast and gaining a significant profile among innovative South African companies, investors and funders, said project manager Bernice Robbertse of Get in the Ring South Africa. Get in the Ring was staged as part of the five-day House of The Future event, which is hosted by the Dutch government and was attended by Dutch Prime Minister Mr. Mark Rutte and Minister of Agriculture Ms Sharon Dijksma, along with a trade mission of over 75 Dutch companies, as well as South Africa’s Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, and Johannesburg City Executive Mayor Parks Tau. Jean-Pierre van Boxmeer, the global CEO of Heineken was also in attendance.

‘Along with a number of dignitaries, up to 300 investors, funders and potential business partners also attended the South African finals – an indication of how Get in the Ring is gaining awareness as a prime platform for showcasing innovation,’ said Robbertse.‘Part of the event’s appeal is the fact that it is presented in an exciting way – contestants literally get into a boxing ring and make short, impactful pitches,’ she said. Participants are coached ahead of the events on ways to make effective elevator pitches and better market their businesses. They also enjoy opportunities to network with a number of potential business partners and funders.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who met the contestants in Johannesburg, commented favourably on the calibre of innovation being showcased, ‘I have just spent some time with some of the entrepreneurs in the Get in the Ring Competition. If this is the level of enthusiasm and innovation in entrepreneurship, then South Africa is in very good hands,’ he said. He noted that the Dutch delegation was in South Africa to fortify and deepen The Netherlands’ economic and political ties with South Africa. ‘South Africa and the Netherlands not only share a history, but also a future,’ he said. ‘The development of education and entrepreneurship is a golden combination.’

Tjeerd Veldhuis added, ‘Entrepreneurship is in the green blood of Heineken. As a sponsor, we hope to open the world to these entrepreneurs.’ With the panel of judges including Tjeerd Veldhuis, brand manager of Heineken South Africa; Etienne Louw, general manager at TomTom Africa; Tineke Mulder, Head of economic development at the Dutch Embassy of South Africa and Kemsley Cakwebe, CEO and founder of The Kemsley Group venture capital firm, finalists from three regional contests were pitted against each-other in the ring to deliver the best pitches.

This year’s South African winners were:
Newtech Rail, an organisation formed this year by Industrial engineer and VUT Director of Innovation Jan Jooste and his wife, landscape architect Zani Jooste, has developed three significant breakthroughs set to benefit both rail transport and any organisation working with power lines.

Jooste said there is a significant potential market for lightweight, arc-free section insulators in the overhead path feeding locomotives. His work in addressing this gap in the market has resulted in electrical and mechanical breakthroughs including a switchgear solution with the potential to significantly improve power line and switch maintenance globally. Jooste said participating in Get in the Ring helped him hone his strategic focus and to develop an impactful ‘elevator pitch’. ‘These concepts are complicated, and the coaching I received ahead of the Get in the Ring finals was invaluable in helping me to condense the key points into a 30-second presentation, which is usually only enough time to hand over your business card,’ he said.

Jooste hopes to secure funding to advance development and position Newtech to partner with manufacturers in the electrical industry to capitalize on the potential of his breakthroughs. ADFIRE CREATIVE M3DIA, a media creative agency owned by James Sands, which has brought to market a one-of-a-kind Anamorphic 3D illusion app for mobile. Sands explained that while people are amazed by the 3D illusions they see in pavement art, the have been unable to recreate the effect themselves. Through trial and error, Sands has perfected the technique to create anamorphic 3D illusions that can be used for events, brand activations, advertising and décor. Adfire specialises in creating these 3D illusions to add impact to visual displays. ‘The app, iMORPH3D, is now available in the Apple and Android app stores, so that anyone can have fun creating amazing 3D illustrations,’ he said.

Sands said that while he has been an entrepreneur for many years, he has not always been as successful as he could have been. He believes participating in Get in the Ring has allowed him to develop his communications and marketing skills, and given him opportunities to network with funders he would otherwise not have engaged with. Sands believes that funding could help him develop the full potential of his unique 3D design capability. ‘The possibilities are endless – it could be developed as a Photoshop plug-in, for example, and lends itself to any number of branding opportunities.’

Stokvella, a concept for more effective stokvel management, is the brainchild of two second-year UCT business science students – Sebastian Daniels and Tuskan Owen-Thomas. Owen-Thomas said the two discovered that the traditional method of running savings or investment stokvels was not satisfactory for contributors to these funds, and opened them up to the risk of fraud. They spent seven months researching current stokvel systems, and designed a mobile application set to significantly improve the transparency and management of stokvels. Stokvella will allow users to track their contributions and due payouts, observe the interest rate or returns earned on their contributions, and reduce the risk of fraud in the system. The mobile application has yet to be developed. Owen-Thomas, at 21 the youngest entrepreneur participating in this year’s Get in the Ring finals, says he benefited from the coaching and insight gained from participation, ‘We entered for exposure and to see how people would respond to Stokvella. It was very useful for us – we met interesting people and made good contacts,’ he said.

Robbertse expects Get in the Ring to expand its reach and participation in 2016, with additional regions and contests to be launched for various industry verticals.

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