40 startups to launch at DEMO Africa 2012
After more than four months of work, the DEMO team has released the shortlist of 40 demonstrators to launch at the first ever DEMO Africa Conference taking place in Nairobi, Kenya next month. The 40 finalists have gone through three rigorous vetting processes with a final adjudication by a pan-African panel of judges including entrepreneurs, venture capital investors, and academics.
“This has been a very enriching exercise seeing the quality of innovation coming out of Africa,” said Harry Hare, Executive Producer, DEMO Africa, when announcing the names of the final 40.
Several DEMO Africa innovation tours have been held over the last few months to encourage participation from technology startups from as many countries as possible. A total of 500 applications were processed, which were then shortlisted to 150 two weeks ago and then down to the final 40. “It’s been a great pleasure working with this group of entrepreneurs. We congratulate the ones that have made it through to the final round and trust they will put their best foot forward in Nairobi. Now is the time to celebrate innovators from across the continent,” said Ben White, Founder, VC4Africa.
The 40 finalists cover five categories – Social Media, Cloud Services, Mobile, Consumer and Enterprise Technologies. Applicants from South Africa and Kenya make up a big chunk of the final 40, with Ghana and Nigeria coming in a close second. Other countries represented included Cameroon, Senegal, Egypt, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
“Many entrepreneurs did not make the final cut despite having excellent ventures. We wish we could launch all of them at DEMO Africa, but that’s practically not possible,” said Hare. “We will, however, engage all of them and see how to assist them through the partnerships we have created to move their businesses to the next level”.
Dele Akinsade, Developer and Platform Lead, Microsoft West, East, Central Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, says “The success of a startup hangs on its ability to monetize ideas as quickly as possible and until now, African entrepreneurs have had limited opportunities to attract investors. DEMO Africa will see 40 talented entrepreneurs get the level of global exposure their ideas deserve – and we can’t wait to see the results”.
The judges included Martin Butler, Senior Lecturer, University of Stellenbosch; Anthony Stonefield, Head of Ecosystem, Nokia; Toby Shapshak, Editor, Stuff Magazine South Africa; Paul Nguru, CEO, PN Consultancy; Stephen Gugu, Director, Viktoria Solutions; Erik Hersman, Founder, Ushahidi/iHub; Eric Osaikwan, CEO, Research Africa; Tomi Davis, CEO, Technovision; and Brian Longwe, DEMO Africa.
DEMO Africa is the flagship initiative of the Liberating Innovation in Opportunity Nations in Africa (LIONS@frica) Partnership and includes DEMO, Microsoft, InfoDEV, Nokia and US Department of State. The first ever Pan African technology launch pad and will be hosted by African eDevelopment Resource Centre and CIO East Africa under the auspices of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication. The DEMO Africa event will be at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, 24th to 26th October 2012 and will attract venture capitalists, angel investors, investment fund managers tech buyers, entrepreneurs, innovation supporters and media.