In an effort to showcase entrepreneurship in South Africa, CNN recently featured Cape Town-based travel technology company Tourism Radio on their Marketplace Africa programme (Watch the feature here).
Founded in 2005, Tourism Radio is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Mark Allewell. The company produces location-based technology and travel content, with audio clips that play automatically when users approach specific points of interest. “The uniqueness of the technology is in its ability to seamlessly arrange thousands of audio clips and organise them into a coherent dialogue, based on location,” says Allewell.
Tourism Radio’s mobile phone application, Hummba is a traveller’s community and travel guide shop; users can buy travel guides, upload postcards and share their travel experiences with fellow travellers.
CNN’s Robin Curnow spoke to Allewell about the challenges associated with being an entrepreneur in South Africa. Allewell admits that he was one of the lucky few. “We were very fortunate in that an international investor saw the potential of Tourism Radio when we were featured on the Discovery Channel in 2006. They immediately decided to buy in, allowing us to expand our operations to New Zealand, Namibia and Spain.
Allewell says many entrepreneurs are looking for a ‘quick fix’, instead of taking the time to create something that really works properly and speaks for itself. He maintains that there is also a huge lack of skilled labour in the tech industry, which makes things incredibly difficult for start-ups, “A lot of big companies are coming in to Cape Town now and taking up those resources.”
Allewell says the attention they have received from CNN is the latest in international interest the company has received. “Over the course of the last year, we’ve forged solid partnerships with some of the world’s top brand names, including North American travel guide giant Frommer’s and French automotive leader Renault.”