Springlab leaps into SA's start-up scene - TechCentral

Springlab leaps into SA’s start-up scene

Eugen Peterson and Sheraan AMod

Eugen Peterson and Sheraan Amod

Cape Town is home to another start-up incubator, this one called Springlab, which wants to help nurture entrepreneurs across the sub-Saharan Africa region.

The company’s two founders, Sheraan Amod and Eugen Peterson, bring a wealth of experience from the US and Germany respectively.

“We bring two major advantages with us based on our collective experience overseas,” says Amod. “First is the experience gained from working in highly competitive, international start-up hub environments and learning best practices used in those environments. Second is the exposure to start-ups and business models working in those territories and using that insight to forecast what types of companies may also be successful in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Amod is also co-founder of Personera, a Web-to-print social media photo service, and recently returned from a two-year-stint in America; while Peterson, a German national formerly based in Berlin, is the co-founder of Zando, the online fashion store.

“Entrepreneurship has been the engine for growth in the US, and now Africa is on the rise and technology entrepreneurship should be at the forefront of it,” says Peterson.

Springlab is using the incubator model that has worked internationally, but has “tweaked” it to make it better suited to the African market. “One tweak is that we either form our own start-ups, or partner with another start-up in a co-founding capacity so we are well positioned to be in business with them over the long haul.”

Another focus is on helping start-ups maintain a lean cost structure while focusing on early revenue generation so they become as resilient as possible early on.

“This is absolutely necessary in a marketplace, unlike the US, where one can’t necessarily fall back on a highly active start-up investor or a mergers and acquisitions community to support a start-up through difficult stages of growth,” says Amod.

Springlab intends focusing on start-ups with Internet-centric business models that have products that solve “real-world problems”.

“We enjoy looking at all industries that have been typically under-served by hi-tech solutions,” he says. “We generally avoid highly capital-intensive business models such as e-commerce and hardware ventures.”

Springlab doesn’t want to take on a large number of projects, preferring to stay hands-on with start-ups as they grow, Amod adds.

Investments per venture will range from R200 000 to R2m, and will include the use of the incubator’s core resources and services. Full access includes strategy, product development, online marketing, sales, administration and later-stage fundraising.

Springlab’s first venture is RecoMed, a service that helps people find the best doctors nearest to them and lets them book an appointment. It’s a free service and has more than 4 000 doctors listed, with more than 14 000 monthly visits.  — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media

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