At 26 years old, entrepreneur Tobie van Zyl is CEO of moneysmart, one of the emerging online personal financial management platforms in South Africa. It is a platform that provides an innovative approach to organising financial data, and enables users to take control of their finances in achieving their goals. After entering the online financial market in 2008, Tobie has rapidly worked his way up to become one of the youngest entrepreneurs in the financial sector to go independent in the country.
Tobie told BandwidthBlog how it all began.
Tell us about your first business experience?
Whilst I was in school in a little town called Worcester back in 2000, there was a big demand for heavy metal music, something that I was and still am very passionate about. I saw this as my first business opportunity. I had all the latest records and shared them with my friends at school. I carried around a portable tape player and at break times I provided kids on the terrain with some hard and loud tunes. The platteland had no exposure to this kind of music. I was fortunate enough to have access to Google in my bedroom. I would google where to find heavy metal music and eventually came across a site called Silent Screams. Back then it was run by female Bass player Jen Rooms from a Hard Core band in Cape Town called Neshama. I worked in my parents garden, washed the cars to get some money to buy the records from her. She had all the latest unheard bands, it was perfect to introduce it to the rock ‘n roll kids at school. So eventually I got orders and started selling CD’s then T-Shirt and Belt Buckles.
What lead you to settle in Cape Town?
I grew so fond of music that it got me to start playing the guitar, but there was one problem – it was Worcester, no one has ever played in a band and at school everyone was pretty much into rugby whilst I was into skateboarding. I met with a kid around the block and got him into guitar playing, he is now my best friend and is one of the most successful up ‘n coming internet markers in the country – Dawie Bester. I took over on vocals and became a singer. I told my father I was going to become either a bad ass rock star or a producer of a big ass rock band like Tool, Guns ‘n Roses or Motley Crue. My father said he would not pay for me to study music if I wanted to become like one of the guys in the posters I had on my bedroom wall. He wanted me to take over his Financial Services Practice but, since my band members graduated from high school and needed to go study we all had to move to Cape Town, so obviously I rebelled and left the town in pursuit of this rock star life.
Facebook has officially rolled out its new photo viewer to all users. “We can confirm that the new photo viewer has been rolled out,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “Yes, to all users.”
Almost identical to Google+, the screenshot below shows that the image is on the left with the comments on the right, rather than below. The new format means that images can be even larger since all the vertical space can now be taken advantage of. On a desktop, there is more room on the screen horizontally rather than vertically and so it does make sense to have any additional information (tagging and commenting) on the side rather than below the image so users no longer have to scroll down the page.
According to tech news site 9to5Google one of their tipsters has recently seen a prototype of Google’s previously rumoured HUD (Heads Up Display) glasses and they supposedly resemble a pair of Oakley Thumps. It has been reported that these glasses have a small front facing camera sed for gathering information, aiding in augmented reality apps and taking pictures. The camera, that is likely to have only a few megapixels, also comes with flash, either for night photography or just to assist with taking better quality pictures.
The display is for one eye only and on the side. The navigation system currently used is a head tilting movement for the purposes of scrolling and clicking. It is believed that its very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and is almost indistinguishable to outside users.
I/O on the glasses will also include voice input and output, and it is likely that the CPU/RAM/storage hardware is near the equivalent of a generation-old Android smartphone.
Even though the product is a long way from being completed, Google is still in discussions over how it will be marketed and sold. There are rumours circulating that Google is apparently unsure if the glasses will ever have mass-market appeal and is therefore considering making this a pilot program, like the Cr-48 Chromebooks last year.
It seems that wearable technology is on the rise and its not just Google working on these kinds of products. Apple, Motorola and Recon Instruments are also working on bringing the technology to the public.
As the first cross mobile OS app store in Africa, BandwidthBlog was curious about the performance of the Vodacom app store since its launch on 1 September 2011. We pinged Vodacom for some insight and what we found was some very interesting stats:
Vodacom revealed that the app store offers about 140 000 apps and since its launch has generated over 800 000 downloads. This is an interesting stat as all apps were free to download upon its launch and as of December 2011 the paid apps library was launched. Predictably social networking apps are the most popular downloaded apps followed by games. Taking the top spot for most downloaded app is Facebook chat which is currently the most popular app download. In the local front, the most popular app is the K53 learner’s app for first time drivers. Game apps such as Mario55 and Qeep are also performing well on the market.
As expected, the Blackberry Curve 8520 remains the leader in the top performing devices on the store as one of the most widely used devices in the South African market followed by the never say die Samsung E250.
As we previously covered results revealed that the South African personal finance app for Android, Expenza, listed on the Vodacom app store, quickly gathered more downloads in comparison to its listing in the Android Marketplace. This performance on the Vodacom app store indicates that users are excited about and receptive to a local carrier app and that there could be a bright future for carrier app stores.
The success of the Vodacom app store, paves the way for other service providers in Africa to enter into the app store market. We love the emerging trend of niche app stores, as the international app stores get bloated with millions of apps. App developers also love niche app stores as they find it increasingly difficult to get noticed in the big app stores.
European internet giants, Rocket Internet, has arrived in South Africa and are intent on launching a few of their most successful brands in our local market. Zando, is one of their first products – a fashion ecommerce play – that allows customers to order a variety of fashion items such as shoes, apparel and accessories online. Zando was initially inspired by Zappos.com which was acquired by Amazon.com in 2009.
Eugen Petersen of Zando explains, “What do many retail stores have in common – a limited fashion selection, long queues and often they don’t have the correct size. With Zando our aim is to provide South Africans with the same hassle-free shopping experience that millions of shoppers around the world already enjoy. We seek to be more than a traditional online fashion store but rather a place where customers’ needs are both understood and satisfied.”
The process works similar to that of other online fashion sites extremely popular in the European market. Once you have selected the item you want, you pay for it and place the order. Shipping is free to any location countrywide. When the courier arrives with your goods you can try on everything you ordered in the different sizes you may have selected and send back what you don’t want. Once they have received the items, you are reimbursed for your purchases.
Vodacom has slashed data prices with a new promotion for contract customers, including Top Up. The launch of a Broadband Standard MyGig 1 and MyGig 2 data contract promotion which runs from 07 February 2012 to 06 May 2012 is the latest in a series of data promotions from Vodacom. With this latest promotion, Vodacom has broken the R100 price point on big data bundles – customers will now pay only R99 for 1GB.
“Our previous data promotions proved to be so successful that we decided to do it again. This time we’re giving savings of up to 60% to our customers. It is just the value proposition our customers are looking for at the beginning of the year. And as with all our data products, these promotional contracts will use Vodacom’s high speed data network with the broadest coverage across South Africa,” says Chris Ross, Managing Executive for Commercial Development at Vodacom.
The Broadband Standard MyGig 1, 24 month contract has been reduced from R249 per month to R99 per month, giving customers a 60% saving and the MyGig 2, 24 month contract has been reduced from R349 per month to R149. After the initial 24 months contract period, the contract can be renewed or will continue on a month to month basis, at the then prevailing rate for the relevant bundle size. The promotional offer includes a free modem and normal out of bundle prices apply. There are no restrictions on the use of these data bundles – they can be used any time of the day.
“We recently offered our prepaid customers a 20GB promotion that offered them great value and now we are offering our contract and Top Up customers great value” adds Ross.
Customers can visit their nearest service provider to sign up for a promotional Broadband Standard MyGig 1 or MyGig 2, 24 month data contract or Top Up data contract.
Apps4Africa is bringing their global challenge to Cape Town, by hosting a launch event for their latest challenge. The winners of this year’s challenge stand the chance to win $15000 for their winning idea! This year the competition is built around the theme of climate change.
This year, participants are invited to propose a technological solution to the climate challenge currently threatening the welfare of our planet. By attending the event you will have the opportunity to hear the insights of thought-leaders and be further briefed on how you can participate in this exciting competition!
Apps4Africa is a global initiative, which encourages individuals to develop technological solutions to environmental challenges.
If you think this will interest people you know, invite them to come along too.
When: 11th February 2011, 9am – 1pm
Where: Umbono Offices, 6 Beach Road, Cape Town
Tickets: Click here to register for this FREE event
For more information about Apps4Africa visit their website here.
Since Windows 95, Microsoft has been using the Start button, which eventually became a Start “orb” button in Windows 7. Leaked screenshots from the upcoming Windows 8 Customer Preview build shows that the familiar Orb button is missing this time round. Users will be expected to simply hover their mouse over any corner of the screen (almost like hot corners in Mac OS X), which will then bring up the new Metro-infused Start menu screen.
Touch screen users will also just hold their screen over a corner of the screen (or use a swipe action). Windows fans might be peeved at the lack of the Start Menu in Windows 8, but it should be pointed out that in future the Start Menu is now being replaced by the “Start Screen”, which uses Metro style apps that look very similiar to Windows Phone 7, and also share a lot of the code base. This will make future cross-platform development between Windows 8 and Windows Phone a lot easier.