TOP 5 STARTUPS
SOUTH AFRICA 2024 


South Africa's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups Awards 2024

The Premier Startup Awards in Southern Africa. 
Brought to you by Heavy Chef, xneelo, UCT d-school and Xero. 
Supported by LinkedIn and Workshop17. 

 

View The Top 5 Winning Startups 2023
Entry Criteria
2023 Judges
Our Partners
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The Top 5 Startups awards are held at the historic District Six Homecoming Centre.

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The 2023 Winners:
SA's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups

Botlhale AI - Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to creatively solve the continent's intricate challenges through overcoming language barriers. Everlectric - A seamless transition to electric fleets, prioritising simplicity and sustainability for clients. Jem - Payslips and instant employee information, including early pay access using messaging platforms like WhatsApp. MySocialLife - Education, mental health, online safety, media literacy, and privacy for teens and pre-teens. Strove - In-app meditations and well-being surveys, encompassing stress, sleep, work, among other mental indicators. 

Nominations

Nominations for South Africa's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups 2024 will open in September 2024. Tell your colleagues n' friends and come join the festivities. 

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2023 Top 5 Startups Panel Of Judges

Andile Khumalo, Founder, KhumaloCo. Tshepo Kgapane, Wafunda. Hope Ditlhakanyane, Founder, We Fund Women. Keitumetse Lekaba, MD, I Am AN ENTREPRENEUR. Melissa Attree, Senior Marketing Strategist, xneelo. Zinhle Novazi, Director, Heavy Chef Foundation. Cursurn Jantjies, SME Manager, Xero. Zola Thekiso, Head of Partnerships, Heavy Chef. 

SA's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups Awards brought to you by the following fine organisations:

With support from the following entrepreneur-focused organisations:

Startup Awards Entry Criteria (FAQ).

Every year, the South African entrepreneur ecosystem celebrates the amazing businesses that are driving the economy forward.

How Are The Startups Nominated? 
Heavy Chef puts out a call for entries in September each year. Nominations are collected on this page. 

When And Where Are The Winners Announced? 
The Top 5 Most Exciting Startups are announced at UCT Hasso Plattner d-school in Cape Town at the end of November. Tickets are available via Heavy Chef here.  

How Are The Startups Evaluated? 
The three main criteria are: 1) innovation, 2) scalability, 3) must have their own IP. 

Most of all, we're looking for 'exciting' startups. We're looking for startups that are changing the world in some way. 

What Are The Eligibility Criteria? 
These are the parameters that qualify startups for consideration:

  • Startups must¬†have been trading for less than seven years.¬†
  • Startups must be registered as businesses in South Africa.¬†
  • Startups must have at least one South African founder.¬†

Note: we're not looking at financial results. However, it helps if you've come out of the gates strong. It also helps if you've attained a strong measure of recognition, media attention and publicity. Previous winners are not eligible. 

Who Are The Judges? 
Each year Top 5 Startups appoints eight highly-qualified persons to evaluate the nominations. Here are 2023's judges: 

  • Andile Khumalo, KhumaloCo.
  • Keitumetse Lekaba, I Am An ENTREPRENEUR.
  • Tshepo Kgapane, Wafunda.
  • Hope Dithlikanyane, We Fund Women.¬†
  • Melissa Attree, xneelo.
  • Cursurn Janthies, Xero.¬†
  • Zola Thekiso, Heavy Chef.
  • Zinhle Novazi, Heavy Chef (Judge Chairperson).

When Are The Top 5 Named? 

Heavy Chef hosts a gala event at the end of November. Book your seats here.  

Previous Winners:
2017: Jumo, SweepSouth, Wala, Yoco, Zoona.
2018: Aerobotics, DataProphet, LifeCheq, LifeQ, Thursdays.
2019: 3x4 Genetics, DigsConnect, Lula, Mama Money, MyFanPark.
2020: Bathu, Carry1st, EasyEquities, MatchKit, Yebo Fresh. 
2021: FCB. ai. Kusini Water. Livestock Wealth. Valenture Institute. WalkFresh. 
2022: Curbon. Franc. Parket. Floatpays. Zoie.
2023:  Botlhale AI. Everlectric. Jem. MySocialLife. Strove. 

Who Are The Organisations Behind The Awards? 

The Top 5 Startups awards are proudly supported by UCT Hasso Plattner d-school and Xero (Premium Partners), in collaboration with Heavy Chef, xneelo and Workshop17. 

When Do Entries Close? 
Early Sep: Nominations open.  
End Oct: First round of judging starts.Top 12 shortlist of startups named. 
Early Nov: Final round of judging begins. 
End Nov: SA's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups named at the iconic UCT Hasso Plattner d-school venue, Cape Town.

What Are Some Tips For Entries? 

  • Keep your entries short.¬†
  • Judges don't have time to read essays.¬†
  • Get to your point of distinction quickly.¬†
  • Entries are not judged on number of nominations (but it does help!)

South Africa's Premier Startup Awards Evening

www.top5startups.com

2023 Partners
Book Tickets
2023 Judges

The 2023 Shortlist:
SA's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups

The judges selected from thousands of nominations, individual companies, the following fine startups were considered for the 2023's Top 5 Startups. The five winners were announced on 30 November 2023 at the historic District Six Homecoming Theatre.

Ambani Africa - A free app with six African languages, aiding public and private sectors with varied solutions. Botlhale AI - Leveraging Artificial Intelligence to creatively solve the continent's intricate challenges through overcoming language barriers. Everlectric - A seamless transition to electric fleets, prioritising simplicity and sustainability for clients. GoBuddy - Eco-conscious delivery solutions, utilising a community-based network to reduce carbon emissions. 
Jem - Payslips and instant employee information, including early pay access using messaging platforms like WhatsApp. MBRK - An e-scooter suitable for African terrain, adept on and off-road. Mindjoy - Seamlessly integrating AI education into top schools, broadening educational horizons for children, empowering them with valuable technological skills. MySocialLife - Education, mental health, online safety, media literacy, and privacy for teens and pre-teens. Plentify - Fortifies electricity grids with smart home solutions. Stitch - One-click payments for enhanced convenience. Strove - In-app meditations and well-being surveys, encompassing stress, sleep, work, among other mental indicators. Xhuma - Addressing practical financial challenges and facilitating money transfers without divulging account details, utilising diverse payment methods.

Keep Up To Date

The Top 5 Startups awards will be back, bigger and even more exciting, soon in 2024. Heavy Chef members are kept in the loop each week via our tasty email newsletters, delivered piping hot n' fresh to your inbox. Not a member? Sign up now (free). 

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The 2022 Winners:
SA's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups

Congratulations to these fine companies. Selected from over 500 entries and adjudicated by a world-class panel of judges, here are South Africa's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups for 2022:

Curbon: E-commerce offsetting made simple. Curbon is an e-commerce plugin that effortlessly offsets their clients’ carbon footprint with each sale. Floatpays: Unlock the power of financial wellness at work through on-demand earned wage access, paycheck linked savings, financial education and practical tools. Franc: Smart investing for everyone through a simple and easy-to-use app that'll have you investing like a pro in minutes. Parket: The world's first turnkey digital access parking management system to provide cashless and ticketless public parking. Zoie Health: Zoie is an all-in-one women’s digital healthcare app.