Vinny Lingham, Founder, Silicon Cape

A profile of Vinny Lingham Founder of Silicon Cape who will be speaking at AfricApps 2014 taking place 12-13 November at Cape Town International Convention Centre.

You were last in SA 2 years ago can you outline what your underlying motivations for founding Silicon Cape?
The motivations around Silicon Cape was to create a community that could work together to create a high tech cluster in South Africa. There were too many disparate organizations not working in unison to advocate for further R&D and entrepreneurship, particularly in the Internet space.

What were your expectations when it was created vs the organization it has become?
When Justin Stanford and I started the website and first conference, we were blown away at the response. Initially, we would have been thrilled to get 125 people to the event – but over 500 attended. In terms of our long term expectations, there is a still a way to go to get there – but from the outset, we believed it was a 20 year mission, and we’re barely 4 years into it.

How do you envisage people getting involved locally and internationally in Silicon Cape?
The organization needs sponsors and volunteers – this is not something that will happen by itself. Under the leadership of Alex and the current SC committee, there is a will to get things done, but both financial and human resources are needed.

What is your opinion on the tech landscape and how it has changed?
I’m very pleased to see the growth in e-Commerce in South Africa – I think this is a good side that people are feeling more comfortable with online commerce. A few years ago, while running Clicks2Customers, in 2006, we only had 1 local customer – Europcar – the rest was all international and very few executives of large companies in SA believed in the Internet as a channel – that has certainly changed.

Do you feel that Cape Town is being put on the map with regards to #Tech and Entrepreneurship?
Not yet, unfortunately. Outside of Fundamo, there has been very few successful exits. Not that I think it won’t happen eventually, but we have not yet built enough critical mass to attract international interest – like for, example how Israel has done. That said, there are some very interesting businesses being built right now – but it will take time to prove them out in the long term.

Any advice for any aspiring entrepreneurs?
Keep your product offering and services simple, and profitable. Product management, design & go to market strategy are some of the key skills that are deficient in SA – figure out a way to fill that gap. Find yourself a co-founder that is technical (if you are not) or if you are, then find someone who understands product and design – Think Steve Jobs and Wozniak!

When is a good time to become an entrepreneur?
Easy. Anytime.

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