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By 2 November 2011 | Categories: news

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Google, together with its partners and angel investors, has announced the first four teams of entrepreneurs who have been selected for the Umbono programme. This six month incubation project was set-up to help local technology entrepreneurs get their products off the ground.

The successful teams include LocalSort.com, a local information directory to provide guesthouses and B&Bs with the best information about tours, restaurants, taxis and other local services in their area, so that they can make better recommendations to their guests.

TaxTim.com is a digital tax assistant to assist South Africans make tax filing season simple, whilst SampleBoard.com, helps designers share conceptual, visual ideas with colleagues and clients during the early stages of a creative project. And finally there is Starburst Games, which will be developing collaborative, multi-player games on a unique mobile handset delivery platform.

The teams will receive seed capital of up to $50 000, while mentorship from local and international businesses will assist them in developing a solid business plan, transform their ideas into companies and prepare to get their products launched. It is expected that at the end of the six months, that the most successful teams will receive follow-on funding from the local venture capital community or from investors overseas.

Commenting on the announcement Luke Mckend, Google SA country manager said: “Umbono aims to bring together all the elements necessary for tech start-ups to trial their ideas and ultimately attract additional rounds of investment to grow their businesses.”

“We’ve seen some great applications for the Umbono programme, and we’re delighted to welcome these particularly innovative start-ups onboard. Throughout the programme, teams will not only benefit from local business mentorship, but also from the extensive mentorship network of Google experts.”

The Umbono teams will be housed at The Hub in Cape Town, with operating costs being sponsored by Cell C. They will have access to business facilities, the likes of a boardroom and internet access, which would otherwise have been difficult for the start-ups to fund themselves.

Other local players that will be contributing significantly to support these start-ups includes Ogilvy, the CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) CIO Forum, Silicon Cape, as well as the Bandwidth Barn.

“A project like this has not been undertaken in SA before, which is why Cell C joined forces with Google to make this a reality. Because innovation is a key value within Cell C as an organisation, it makes sense that we put our efforts behind a project that encourages new ideas,” said Simon Camerer, Cell C executive head of marketing.  

The application process is open year round and is accessible from Google’s website.
 
In related news mLab, a new regional lab for mobile technology entrepreneurs, application developers and innovators was recently inaugurated at The Innovation Hub, Pretoria.

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