The Final List of SA’s Five Most Exciting Startups Revealed

Last night, Thursday 14th December, entrepreneur community platform ‘Heavy Chef’ and Huawei Mate10 Pro hosted SA’s top 5 most exciting startups as nominated by industry peers. The keynote speaker on the evening was Silicon Valley’s ‘Unicorn Whisperer’ Zach Coelius, who also led a business Masterclass earlier in the day to a select group of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and graduates. The night was MC'd by rising South African entrepreneur Caley van der Kolk (CEO of Artisans in Africa) and seasoned founder Mike Sharman (CEO of Retroviral). Guests were finally entertained by the world's youngest professional deejay, DJ Arch Jnr, and finally German import DJ JanuaryOne. 

Heavy Chef and Huawei Mate10 Pro presents SA’s Top 5 Most Exciting Startups


In the lead up to the Heavy Chef event in Cape Town, December 14, the Heavy Chef team and Huawei Mate10 Pro revealed the list of South Africa’s five most exciting startups. Today we announce the final panel of speakers who will be sharing the stage next week at what is promising to be a truly inspirational event.  

Fred Roed, founder of Heavy Chef says: “Recently there’s been a lot of doom and gloom in the news, so we thought it’s time to look for something to celebrate in South Africa. One area which I believe is particularly compelling is our startup sector, so I emailed 20 of my colleagues and community members at Heavy Chef – I asked them for their opinion of the most exciting startups in the country at the moment. We measured which startups featured in the suggestions and, together with Heavy Chef’s premium partner Huawei Mate10 Pro, we asked the top 5 to participate in our end of year event.”

The five startups all agreed to share a 10-minute presentation on how they are changing the world.

So, who are these companies? The Top 5 Startups and speakers, in no particular order: 

First up is FinTech business Zoona, a money-transfer company built from scratch by two brothers. Zoona is definitely one of Africa’s most sensational startups. By providing reliable financial services to the unbanked, the company has influenced the lives of millions in multiple countries across the continent. Zoona will be represented by co-founder Brad Magrath.

Heavy Chef has already welcomed Andrew Watkins-Ball from JUMO as speaker at an earlier event this year. Analysing huge amounts of user data from mobile usage and working with a number of banks and mobile operators, JUMO’s technology powers real-time access to credit, savings and other financial services. This time JUMO’s Director of Brand, Buhle Goslar, explained how JUMO is irrevocably changing the world. 

Next up is a speaker who Heavy Chef fans have already met on stage: Aisha Pandor, CEO of Cape Town-based on-demand cleaning service SweepSouth has modernized the cleaning services industry and created thousands of jobs for women and men. Not only that, she created jobs where domestic workers are treated as professionals with wages, benefits and treatment beforehand unknown in this sector. We definitely want to see how this revolutionary businesswoman will change the future.

Another startup making substantial noise is FinTech company Wala who built a financial platform for emerging markets powered by a crypto token called ‘Dala’ and underpinned by Blockchain. Wala is growing fast, very fast - and CTO Ross McEwan had us scotched to our seats when he shared how Wala is changing the future of the underbanked world.

Last but not least, we had Yoco CEO, Katlego Maphai on stage. Yoco’s core idea is that all businesses should be able to accept card payments irrespective of size or maturity. Many SMEs are underserved by large financial institutions and that’s where Yoco is making a huge contribution by lowering the bar to entry. Yoco is the fastest growing card-payments and the largest independent mobile point-of-sale player in South Africa by number of merchants. 

The talks were filmed by the extraordinary Huawei Mate10 Pro phone camera with lens technology by iconic camera-manufacturer Leica, industry-recognised to be the best phone camera on the market. Watch this website to see the event footage. 

The keynote speaker for the evening was 'super angel', Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur, Zach Coelius - who also delivered a Masterclass earlier in the day.

The big scoop of the night was that Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur Zach Coelius agreed to deliver a keynote, presenting his view on the South African startup scene from an international perspective – and providing advice on how to scale companies into a global arena. Not only that, Heavy Chef organized a masterclass with Zach Coelius at 3pm on the same day. 

 “Zach was only in the country for five days, but we were incredibly privileged to have him on the Heavy Chef stage,” says Roed. “He has an astonishing array of companies in his portfolio covering a wide range of industry segments – from self driving cars to drone invasion prevention, 3d facial modeling and, um, childcare. You can safely say that he’s eclectic in his investment selection.” 

Entrepreneur Don Packett, the newly appointed CEO of Missing Link, led the Masterclass. Clearly, there will be plenty of nuggets to take home from this event. Tickets to the workshop included a goodie bag packed with Huawei goodies, books and a seat at the 6pm main event. 

Heavy Chef announced that the evening will end off with a set by German DJ, JanuaryOne, one of the hottest rising talents in the Deep House circuit.

The event held one more big surprise: the world record holder of "World's Youngest DJ" - the one and only DJ Arch Jr. The little man kicked off the music part of the evening and then posed for selfies with everyone, answering questions about his age (he's 5) and his favourite meal (Smarties). 

And as at all Heavy Chef events, there were complimentary Joe & Co 'entrepreneur balls' to keep energy levels up. Complimentary drinks were provided - wine by Backsberg winery, beer by CBC and fruit juice by Sir Fruit. 

'Heavy Chef is a platform for people that do.'

Heavy Chef creates inspirational experiences for graduates, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs.

“Our name comes from the saying never trust a skinny chef,” Roed explains. “We celebrate people who walk the talk, who practice what they preach - who eat their own food. We believe that, in a world of talkers, it's the doers that are going to change it. Together with our partners, we aim to inspire our community members to start things and empower them to succeed.”

Subscribe to announcements of future events at Heavy Chef website: