SA tech start-ups pitch at Silicon Valley forum

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Kyle Ueckermann, founder and CEO of Vollar.
Kyle Ueckermann, founder and CEO of Vollar.

Three local tech start-ups, Vollar, Pineapple and Lüla, were selected to present their business ideas at the 12th Stanford African Business Forum, in Silicon Valley.

The annual forum, held in California over the weekend, was organised by Stanford University's Africa Business Club. The event explores how African start-ups can contribute to solving the world's toughest challenges, through the use of innovative problem-solving approaches and solutions.

The initiative also aims to help African start-ups gain international exposure, in order to draw foreign investment.

Stellenbosch-based social enterprise start-up Vollar uses a digital platform that tracks the time users spend doing social good within communities, and rewards them in digital currency.

The start-up says it enables sustainable and scalable social upliftment in local communities by empowering the unemployed and informal traders.

Pineapple is a Johannesburg-based insurtech start-up that allows users to snap an image of any item they want to insure, and uses artificial intelligence to determine its pricing bracket.

Mobility-as-a-service start-up Lüla aims to alleviate traffic congestion on local roads by using private shuttles to facilitate door-to-door rides, transporting commuters from their homes to work and vice versa.

"To be selected as one of six start-ups from the whole of Africa is a great privilege, and Vollar is here to connect with the economic rise of the African continent, bringing a symbol of hope and economic prosperity, and flying the flag of Afrofuturism," says Kyle Ueckermann, founder and CEO of Vollar.

"Vollar is expecting big things from the outcome of the relationships, networks, prospects of funding and interest received from the Silicon Valley start-up landscape through the facilitation of the forum."

Around 33% of global funding for start-ups stems from Silicon Valley, and connections between Africa and Silicon Valley will be more valuable this century than ever before, notes Vollar.

The three local start-ups were among six African start-ups selected to pitch their ideas at the event, which brought together thought leaders, business experts and judges from across the globe.

The other African start-ups that pitched were Nigeria-based ScholarX, global start-up ENVision Mobile and Uganda's MobiPay AgroSys.

The start-ups had to match certain minimum criteria to be shortlisted for the event, which included having a substantial influence on their domestic communities, a maximum headcount of 40 employees and being based in Africa.

The judging process is still under way, with the final selection expected to be announced in the next few days.

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