Richard Mulholland: The Picasso of Perspective


I had the great pleasure of having dinner with Richard Mulholland of Thunk! this evening.??Every time I meet him I feel as if I see things more clearly, even though I was looking really hard in the right place. ??

Rich's insights into business, bandwidth, insurance, relationships, consumers and human behaviour made me think of an anecdote I once heard:??

A woman approached Picasso in a Parisian restaurant and after a brief chat asked if he would be kind enough to draw her a small picture. He carefully drew a few perfect lines on the back of a napkin, out of which appeared the figure of a beautiful woman. He handed it over to her and said: "That would be 50,000 Francs please". She exclaimed: "What? But it only took you 5 minutes!" to which he replied: "5 minutes… and a lifetime before that."

It’s Official: M-PESA comes to South Africa




Vodacom and Nedbank Partner to Bring M-PESA

to South Africa


30 March 2010, Johannesburg: Vodacom and Nedbank today announced a joint initiative to bring M-PESA, the biggest global success story in mobile money, to South Africa. M-PESA is an innovative mobile money solution which has already seen enormous success in other African markets, as well as in Afghanistan; enabling even unbanked customers to transfer money from person to person using a cellphone. As Vodacom???s preferred banking partner in the project, Nedbank has engaged proactively with the banking regulator, ensuring that the initiative will meet all requirements set out by the South African Reserve Bank.


Shameel Joosub, Managing Director, Vodacom South Africa, said: ???Nedbank is the ideal financial services partner for this venture. With their proven track record of providing financial services to those who are traditionally unable to afford it and their innovative approach to banking, we know they will bring a new dimension to the project. Both Nedbank and Vodacom are confident that M-PESA is going to change the lives of ???unbanked??? South Africans and we are looking forward to the imminent launch of the product.???


Saks Ntombela, Managing Executive, Nedbank Retail, said: ?????As a bank for all South Africans', we are delighted to be a part of this innovative, simple money transfer product which offers easy access to funds. We are particularly excited about this offering being attractive to the previously unbanked population who are not yet part of the formal banking system.?? Nedbank strives to understand our customers??? needs and is committed to then ensure that what we deliver is a financial product that is easy to use. This illustrates a shared vision between Nedbank and Vodacom.???


Added Joosub, ???M-PESA has a successful track record in other markets. With the backing of Nedbank and Vodafone, as well as the power of the public???s trust in the Vodacom brand, all of the signs are there that M-PESA is going to revolutionise the way South Africans transfer, share and spend their money.???


The M-PESA service was originally created as a pilot funded jointly by Vodafone and the UK Department for International Development [DFID] Financial Deepening Challenge Fund. Since then, the service has proved immensely successful in the Kenya, Tanzania and Afghanistan markets with more than 10 million M-PESA customers. Vodafone first announced its intentions to repeat its success in South Africa at the GSMA Mobile World conference in Barcelona earlier this year.


The 5 W’s of a Great Elevator Pitch

If you’re struggling to put together an Elevator Pitch for next week’s Silicon Cape Networking Event, just focus on answering the following 5 W’s:

1. What does it do? Begin your answer with, for e.g., “We provide…”

2. Who does it do it for? For example, say, “For small and medium web design companies…”

3. What’s in it for them?

4. Why is your company different? with “As opposed to” or “Unlike.”

5. What is your company? I.e. is it a SaaS company? A BioTech company? A Design company?

Here’s Skyrove’s elevator pitch:

Skyrove makes it easy for anyone to get their own Wi-Fi hotspot and share internet with their guests, tenants or neighbours. In this way Skyrove creates an income for small entrepreneurs while also bringing down the cost of internet to end-users.

What do you think? Does it answer enough of the W’s?

REGISTER HERE to attend the event (31 March). Email if you’d like to give YOUR 60 second Elevator Pitch

A Big, Big Year for Silicon Mzansi

  MWEB, Vox, Nexus, Imagine and Afrihost all launched affordable uncapped consumer internet packages just in the last week! 

PayPal finally launched today in South Africa! Standard Bank is launching ‘Instant Money’ and Vodafone announed last month they’ll be bringing us M-PESA

You could say I’ve been giddy with excitement. But, of course, getting PayPal, M-PESA and Uncapped Broadband YEARS after the rest of the world pales in comparison with how excited I get when faced with the opportunity to hear South African entrepreneurs reveal the products they’ve been working on. 

Next week the Silicon Cape Initiative will be having its much anticipated 2nd networking event. This time, instead of having a successful entrepreneur giving a talk, there will be a dozen or so entrepreneurs revealing brand new ideas and businesses to the Silicon Cape community what they’ve been working on in their garages (or heads!). These talks will be done in the format of a 60 second elevator pitch. That way, our intrepid entrepreneurs will be forced to say exactly what their product does. 

No time for history, market projections or product demos (unless you talk really, really fast)

So if you have the next Yastic, Personera or ChessCube lurking on your server, please come and tell us about it. Remember, stealth is for fighter jets, not startups. And if you’re an angel investor or VC firm, be sure not to miss out on a great opportunity

All you have to do is send an email to with a short outline of what you’ll be talking about. (i.e. your elevator pitch 🙂

Pioneers like FNB/PayPal and MWEB have now created hugely to creating the environment for creating Silicon Cape startups. Anything is now possible. Let’s see what comes out next… 

My 2009 NetProphet Talk

I recently rediscovered the NetProphet 2009 talks. They’re all online at

I’m hugely looking forward to the 2010 NetProphet event. Keep your diaries open on 13 May 2010. 

Here’s a video of my talk for anyone who might have to deal with Venture Capitalists: