By Staff Writer
Cape Town is rapidly establishing itself as the biggest continental hub for technology startups.
The Stellenbosch and Cape Town area is often referred to as the ‘Silicon Cape’, playing on world-renowned Silicon Valley – a global leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation and development.
According to a VentureBurn survey undertaken in 2015, the Cape has more startups than the rest of South Africa combined. This is no surprise when you consider the similarities between the Cape and Silicon Valley regarding large network hubs of wealthy entrepreneurs, highly technically skilled individuals and strong IT infrastructures.
Hepstar, a Cape Town based startup, further blurred the lines between the Cape and Silicon Valley by removing the geographical distance between the two regions.
They were among the top 20 start-ups handpicked to participate in Silicon Valley based Plug and Play Tech Centre earlier this year, the most active investment organisation in the valley with portfolio companies including PayPal, Dropbox and Skytree.
This is no small feat as there were more than 1 000 start-ups participating in the application process globally, Plug and Play being the largest accelerator program in the world.
“We were proud to represent South Africa on a global platform such as Plug and Play Tech Centre,” said Hepstar CFO, Brett Dyason.
“In the future, we hope to see more South African technology companies participating in these types of programs as there is definitely no shortage of innovation and talent from the Cape.”
With a core focus on machine learning and e-merchandising, Hepstar assists online travel merchants, such as airlines and online travel agencies, to personalise the travel insurance offering for each individual. They help bridge the gap between an online travel merchant’s technical capabilities and the customer’s demand for a personalised experience, knowing that a one size fits all approach simply doesn’t cut it in the travel space anymore.
“Finding a starting point and building a network in a new environment is not an easy task; luckily Plug and Play provided the perfect platform for this,” commented Dyason.
“It also helps to have case studies from a few larger existing clients before approaching new clients in new markets.”
Breaking into the international market is an achievement in itself for many startups from South Africa.
With a footprint across Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Hepstar is not new to the international scene.
However, the Americas are an entirely new market and the principles remain the same.