Social media week Johannesburg – Black hair, mobile payments and startups

What is the meaning of social media week Johannesburg?
More pertinent, might be the question “What is the meaning of a selfie?” Or “What are the impacts of mobile communication on your friends?” Or even,  “Will social media improve your business? And definitively ” Will social media transform cities for the better?” All important questions, and Johannesburg will seek answers to all these questions, at the Social Media Week. The lineup of speakers is impressive, and the schedule offers something for everyone.  There are many free events, and the weekly pass for paid events is R 750-00. This article provides a sense of why this event is important, and highlights a few events that entrepreneurs may want to attend by linking to them.

Social media week in Johannesburg

Three features of the programme are important.

1. Government and Entrepreneurs

If you live in Johannesburg and are working on a startup, chances are that you have half a mind (but probably not the heart) to move to Cape Town. Cape Town is seemingly the place for startups, and whilst the hype cannot be always believed, they are doing something right and beginning to create a tech startup ecosystem. Johannesburg has a dispersed but energetic tech startup scene, that does not need centralisation but needs some coordination if impacts are too be seen, and for entrepreneurs to enjoy successful. Johannesburg, in fact can learn the proverbial “thing or two” from Cape Town in this regard.
The City of Johannesburg’s participation in the event is thus exciting as it continues the process of building a tech ecosystem in Johannesburg.

2. Entrepreneurship – Tough Questions

The sessions are run by experienced entrepreneurs, asking tough questions – which is a rarity.  For example,   Alan Knott Craig Jr., speaks on “Why South African Startups Fail“.  The programme has a couple of sessions focussed on these tough questions and economy wide opportunities. The sessions on Crowdfunding in Africa, and on mobile payment solutions all tackle important questions.
Entrepreneurs looking for more day-to-day advice will not be disappointed, as several sessions  focus on using social media for business. In fact, you may even learn how to use Instagram as a free marketing channel. And you get to meet the Top Instagrammers – which in itself is an interesting honorific to have.
I am hoping to attend the Startup Battle – which has R 25 000-00 on offer, and an audience of the Johannesburg tech leaders.

3. Changes in our behaviour

An overriding theme is that social media is changing the way we do things. As South Africa grows the number of people using the Internet and using it for buying decisions, the impacts will be even greater. The session on black hair care looks extremely interesting, as does the presentation on trends in Africa. Social media is certainly no panacea for all our problems – but understanding how it will impact on our present and future helps us to understand  why social media is important.
If you like this article, tweet it, like it and share it. After all if you do not do that, this article may not exist. (and I may finally trek down to Cape Town.)

Adii Pienaar Offering 100K and His Time

You may not know Adii Pienaar, but he is one of the more interesting entrepreneurs in South Africa. He was co-founder of the highly successful Woothemes, and his “making new mistakes” – setting up a couple of ventures and writing a book. I have followed and participated in these ventures – including a brilliant idea that never took off, called Public Beta. He has written an extremely important post called What South African Tech Needs. It is a post that helps tech founders to adjust their minds to the realities of starting up in South Africa. Go read it.
He captures the issues by noting that successful South African companies are:

  1. Not overly sexy (in the way that Instagram or AirBnB is);
  2.  Bootstrapped (at least, initially); and
  3. Take a considerable amount of time to get to where they are today.

The article is a reality check in other ways, with him noting:

  • The advantages of working in a developing country both in terms of investor interest, and lower costs. It is for instance, instructive to note that there are over one thousand investors interested in South Africa, on AngelList.
  • The potential that may exist in business-to-business (B2B) markets.
  • The importance of building a product or service, and being able to take the next steps.


Adii is looking to support entrepreneurs with an intriguing offer. In Adii’s own words:
I’d be happy to make (up to) R100k available to an entrepreneur (or entrepreneurs) that meets the following criteria:

  • You read my post above and found yourself nodding your head to most things.
  • You’re a builder and a maker who can at least put a prototype or V1 together.
  • You have a B2B idea that either solves a great pain for other businesses or adds a lot of value (as a vitamin). The former gets bonus points.
  • Your idea has a potential, global target audience.
  • You’re hard-working and are willing to work your ass off to create an awesome company.
  • You’re based in Cape Town and willing to meet with me regularly (in Stellenbosch or Paarl) for office hours.
  • You’d love to add your name to the success stories that I’ve listed above.

For more details, and contact information please visit his site at the following link. Click here.