Nominations are closed.
South Africa's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups Awards

Announced at Workshop17 Watershed, Cape Town, 1 December 6pm.
The premier startup awards in Southern Africa. 
Brought to you by Heavy Chef, PayFast and Xero. In collaboration with xneelo, Workshop17.


Book Tickets
Top 12 Shortlist
2022 Judges
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The 2022 Shortlist Of 12 Startups

Nominate Your Startup

Nominations are closed. Bookings are open for the big reveal of South Africa's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups 2022, on the 1st December 2022 at Workshop17 Watershed in Cape Town. Tell your colleagues n' friends. 

* Book Your Seats: Avoid the mad rush, reserve your tickets now. Click here to buy now (or, if you're a Heavy Chef member, email us to get your free tickets). 

2022 Top 5 Startups Panel Of Judges

Robyn Smith, Founder, Faithful To Nature. Rob Paddock, Founder, Valenture Institute. Carla Thiele, Head of Marketing, Xero SA. Colleen Harrison, Head of Marketing, PayFast. Khanya Mncwabe, Founder, Matawi Mead. Zinhle Novazi, Director, Heavy Chef Foundation. Lukhanyo Neer, Director, Heavy Chef Foundation. Mark Peddle, Marketing Strategist, xneelo. 

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

With support from the following entrepreneur-focused organisations:

It's time to celebrate our heroes.

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 Workshop17 Watershed, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town: 6pm 1st December 2022. 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. 

  • Robyn Smith, Faithful to Nature.
  • Nokukhanya Mncwabe, Matawi.
  • Rob Paddock, Valenture Institute.
  • Colleen Harrison, PayFast.
  • Carla Thiele, Xero.
  • Mark Peddle, xneelo.
  • Zinhle Novazi, Heavy Chef (Judge Chairperson). 
  • Lukhanyo Neer, Heavy Chef.

When Are The Top 5 Named? 

Heavy Chef hosts a gala event at the beginning of December. 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. 

Who Are The Organisations Behind The Awards? 
The Top 5 Startups awards are proudly supported by PayFast and Xero (Premium Partners), in collaboration with Heavy Chef, xneelo and Workshop17. 

When Do Entries Close? 
Oct 17: Nominations open. 
Nov 17: Final deadline for nominations. 
Nov 18: First round of judging starts. 
Nov 23: Top 12 shortlist of startups named. 
Nov 23: Final round of judging begins. 
Dec 01: SA's Top 5 Most Exciting Startups 2022 named at Workshop17 Watershed 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


2022 Partners
Book Tickets
2022 Judges

Book Your Tickets To The Final Awards Evening

6pm December 1st 2022.17 Dock Road. Workshop17 Watershed. V&A Waterfront, Cape Town 8002.