Tech start-ups in 2012

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive in South Africa’s tech space as 2012 saw the launch of several new ventures in the market.

From financial services to technological developments and online retail, BusinessTech looks at seven start-ups which came to fruition in 2012.


The brainchild of South African entrepreneurs Ben Botes and Lourie Nel, StartMe is an Internet-based funding portal which enables small investors to network and pool resources to finance projects, businesses and other ventures

Specifically, this involves raising capital by receiving small investments from a large cross-section of people in an Internet community, otherwise known as crowdfunding.

The start-up is similar to other crowdfunding companies, like Kickstarter; however, StartMe has opted for a different model and fee structure for the South African market.


Another start-up to tackle the financial services and money sourcing market in 2012 was RainFin.

The social lending start-up reported that it had 106 applications in its first month of operation in July 2012 – with 22 successful loan application funded by peers during that time.

Peer-to-peer lending, also known as person-to-person lending or social lending, is a type of financial transaction which occurs directly between individuals or “peers”, without the intermediation of a traditional financial institution.


Online personal finance start-up, MoneySmart, was founded in August 2010 and developed a financial management service which launched in August 2012.

The platform works by allowing users to set up an anonymous account that syncs with their banks and credit providers.

Unlike 22seven, which is a similar financial monitoring tool, MoneySmart is free (as opposed to subsciption-based).

MoneySmart operates on a commission basis: every time the service successfully leads a user to packages that will save them money, MoneySmart gets a kick-back from the companies who, in turn, gain a client.


Although founded in 2011, online retailer, Zando officially launched in January 2012 – and has skyrocketed to become one of the biggest players in the South African e-commerce market.

According to the company it currently attracts over 200,000 unique visitors per week, and has grown its number of employees from the initial 4, to over 200.

Zando sells footwear, clothing, and fashion accessories – and in Spetember, the company landed a significant investment from JP Morgan in 2012.

Business Times reported that Zando landed an investment in the “three-digit million rand” band from the asset management division of JP Morgan.


Founded in November 2010 by Claude Hanan of Kanan Wealth, formerly of Allan Gray; Luke Jedeikin, formerly at Coley Porter Bell and Daniel Solomon, formerly Metadata and Netapp – Citymob, in its current format, launched in March 2012. is a new player in the daily deals market, which has gained popularity in South Africa, hinging off of its “exclusivity” feel.

Membership to the site is free, but by invitation only.

Citymob offers daily curated sales on exclusive experiences, premium products and hand-selected styles at up to 70% off retail.

Grenade logo


Grenade was founded in March 2012 with a vision to develop web and mobile products for publishers and content-rich businesses in South Africa and other emerging markets.

The startup already has many high profile clients, including Creamer Media (Engineering News, Mining Weekly); Ndalo Media (Destiny Connect);; Avusa / BDFM (BDlive, Financial Mail); and eAdvance Group (Spark Schools).

According to reports, Grenade is already generating strong revenue after only a few months of operation. According to CEO Colin Daniels, Grenade is on track to turnover around R3.5 million in its first financial year.


Thumbzup, the tech company behind the Payment Pebble smartphone payment device, was founded by tech entrepreneur, Stafford Masie.

While Masie had spent over two years working on the technology, it was only revealed in November 2012 alongside an announcement that Absa would be using the device in 2013 as part of an exclusive deal.

The Pebble device will let businesses and entrepreneurs accept debit or credit card payments on-the-go across South Africa using their smartphones or tablets.

Absa is set to provide its Payment Pebble as a value-added service to all small business owners and merchants on-the-go from early 2013.

The Pebble is a small card-reader device that plugs into a 3.5mm audio input on any mobile smartphone or tablet and includes a mobile app.

Related articles

Big boost for SA eCommerce

MoneySmart does what it says on the tin

StartMe: a closer look at SA crowdsourcing

Grenade: “A really awesome technology company”

RainFin reveals early progress

Absa intros mobile card payments for small business

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