There may be no shortage of economic and political challenges in South Africa, but the entrepreneurial space is one that continues to grow.
Here are just some of the companies that have been making some great strides of late. These are firms, including a digital wallet and an Internet casino, that are well on their way to establishing themselves as serious players within their industry, have already received funding through venture capital and the like, or are scaling their operations either domestically or beyond.
BitX/Luno: Bitcoin wallet
Launched in 2013 in Stellenbosch, BitX is one of the most popular bitcoin wallets in the world. It’s seen significant financial growth, having raised $4mn from Naspers in 2014, along with an undisclosed amount from Ventura Capital the following year. Its success is of little surprise, due to the success of bitcoin in industries such as food service and online gambling. BitX has since expanded its product line by enabling customers to buy airtime and products from Bid or Buy, and has also partnered with virtual card system Zazoo. Last year saw the company change its name from BitX to one they perceived as being more consumer-friendly: Luno. The firm has also now successfully expanded into the UK.
Custos Media Technologies: Piracy protection
Custos was co-founded by Herman Lintvelt, Fred Lutz, and G-J van Rooyen. The company used the bitcoin blockchain to combat movie piracy. By employing specialist watermarking technology, it helps to track down the original sources of infringed content. Having started in 2015 in the Stellenbosch LaunchLab, the concept has clearly impressed a number of people, as the company received R4-million in finance in April of 2016, as well as R5.9-million from the Technology Innovation Agency in August of the same year.
Winner Casino: Online gambling
Operated by Red Finger, Cyprus and licensed by Antigua and Barbuda, Winner Casino was founded in 2009. Not technically a South African company, it’s relevant here due to being ranked the No.1 online casino for South Africans by www.southafricaonlinecasinos.co.za. The site reviews casinos and conducts research into such areas as welcome bonuses, free spins, cash prizes, and so on, so its rankings are based on thorough research. Providing cutting-edge gaming platforms and games such as Age of the Gods and Buffalo Blitz, Winner Casino offers the ultimate virtual casino experience. It also features a whole host of traditional casino games, such as casino hold ‘em, video poker, slots, blackjack, and various arcade games.
Wantitall + Parcelninja: E-commerce
Wantitall was founded in 2006 by Justin Brennan, Ryan Brennan, and Terence Murphy in a bid to make life easier for South Africans wishing to buy from the US. After it started, the firm received investments from Ronnie Apteker and David Frankel. Through the years, it has evolved and now provides a range of eCommerce services that includes Parcelninja.
The tech sector is one that appears to be fuelling the startup scene in South Africa, with companies like Axxess and redPanda Software impressing. Fintech is one of the hottest sectors, with cryptocurrency very much at the fore. Finally, iGaming continues to provide a successful service to South Africans, due to more and more people choosing online casinos over their land-based counterpart.