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

On Thursday 14th December, entrepreneur community platform ‘Heavy Chef’ and Huawei Mate10 Pro will host SA’s top 5 most exciting startups as nominated by industry peers. The keynote speaker on the evening will be Silicon Valley’s ‘Unicorn Whisperer’ Zach Coelius, who will also be leading a business Masterclass earlier in the day. 

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 have 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, will explain 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 hear what this revolutionary businesswoman has to say about 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, so CTO Ross McEwan will have us scotched to our seats when he shares how Wala is changing the future of the underbanked world.

Last but not least, we’ll have 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 will be 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.

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

The big scoop of the night is that Silicon Valley investor and entrepreneur Zach Coelius has 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 is organizing a masterclass with Zach Coelius starting at 3pm on the same day. 

 “Zach is only in the country for five days, but we’re 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, will be leading the Masterclass. Clearly, there will be plenty of nuggets to take home from this event. Tickets to the workshop include a seat at the 6pm main event and a few tickets are still available for the workshop. 

Heavy Chef has 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. But the event holds some more surprises that the Heavy Chef team will only announce after the talks end. And as at all Heavy Chef events, there will be some complimentary Joe & Co 'entrepreneur balls' to keep energy levels up. Complimentary drinks will also be 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.”

Tickets can be purchased on Quicket or the Heavy Chef website: