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iSmile – The Tech Report: 1-5 July

MONDAY (1 July)

There are hundreds, possibly thousands of careers that exists today … only because computers and the internet exists.

Similarly, there are thousands of new money-making opportunities as a result of the WWW and of course a greater chance for cash-strapped entrepreneurs to get funded.

It being Monday, today’s iSmile looks at online solutions.

Now as any entrepreneurs will tell you, the toughest thing about business is finding funding that doesn’t come with too many string attached.

And crowd funding may just be it. It is a relatively new way for clever entrepreneurs to expose their creativity to possible venture capital.

Ben Botes is the man behind the website StartMe.co.za – designed specifically to connect small entrepreneurs with small time investors. He says the site became an almost instant hit with a wide range of individuals and business. Ben says anyone with a bit of money to invest in entrepreneurs is welcome to come have a look at what type of projects are on offer and requesting funding.

TUESDAY (2 July)

From midnight tonight you will need around R50 more to fill up your car’s tank.

For most of us, this isn’t a deal breaker, but look at it this way; petrol now costs more than double what we paid a few short years ago. And unless you are getting PAID double what you use to, this could be a financially crippling matter at midnight tonight.

So for most of this week, iSmile plans to take a look at alternative ways to get around.

Sanjay Dastoor is talking about an electric skateboard called the Boosted Board. Besides its obvious practicality, it also looks like good fun.

But if skateboarding scares the eebie jeebies out of you … how about bringing the trusty old bicycle into the modern era, by adding electricity?

James Swift from E-Zee Electric Bikes says electric bikes are already in extensive use in other parts of the world, including Jo’burg. There are several types of eBikes on the market and James says his brand is one of the best.

eBikes have a number of benefits over petrol-driven vehicles, including the fact that you get out in the open for a change and have to pedal along. And of course should you run out of electricity, you can simply start pedalling.

WEDNESDAY (3 July)

Another day of us looking at ways to get around the latest petrol price increase.

And considering that the Tour de France is still on, today iSmile stays with the theme of motorised bicycles.

There’s a very novel fold-up electric bicycles, which is catching on as a way of commuting very short distances – say between the train station and the office.

So these are not really the solution we are looking for. As we need to travel for a little longer than that.

John Forte is the owner of a company called JedtRunner, which specialises in providing small motorised vehicles, like scooters and bicycles. He has a range of items you can chose from, so do go check them out online but he says the eBike remains the most popular, mostly because there’s no special requirements like licenses and road worthies!

THURSDAY (4 July)

On Monday I told you about a business whose business it is to get your business a financial shot in the arm.

StartMe.co.za is a website that manages crowd funding in South Africa.

And today iSmile focusses on the entrepreneurial aspect of StartMe.

Any entrepreneur will tell you painfully long and potentially discouraging stories of the tiring business of securing venture capital. Basically you present your idea to investors registered on the site and – if they like it – they give you money to get it on the production line. And yes … I did say GIVE you money.

Ben Botes is the man behind Startme.co.za. He explains that South Africa’s laws don’t allow equity-based crowd funding, so right now what you get is product sponsorship. Ben says there’s lots of benefits to this model. These include a platform to survey your idea and get quality feedback from people who are genuinely interested.

FRIDAY (5 July)

In our last look at practical ways to beat the repeated petrol price increases, we focus on the most obvious, and some would argue, most fun mode of transport – SCOOTERS!

It’s got the benefits of both a car and a bicycle, but without the drawbacks of either.

Asian cities like Bangkok, Manila and Beijing have learned this lesson decades ago and scooters are literally ten a penny on their streets. So as a coastal city, scootering about is almost our birth right! And it appears we are finally cottoning on.

Mike Estaugh represents the ever stylish scooter brand, Vespa, in SA. He says the Italian scooters are still a firm favourite among Cape Town’s young and trendy.

But Vespa is by no means the only choice out there. Like with most things these days, the Chinese are also making inroads into this market and many are opting for the rough and ready looks of the Big Boy scooter brand.

With much more emphasis on function rather than form, Big Boy is the rowdy, country bumpkin cousin of the more urban chic of Vespa, which unlike other Italian vehicles, is kinda shy and proper!

I’ve had the pleasure of zipping around town on a Big Boy two summers ago and boy are they addictive! Robot-to-robot, there’s nothing that can beat your automatic transmission and that s on a mere whiff of petrol!

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