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Startupbootcamp taps 3 SA innovators to go global

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Three South African startups have made it on the shortlist to becoming one of the 10 startups to be accelerated by leading international startup accelerator Startupbootcamp InsurTech in 2017.

Three South African startups have made it on the shortlist to becoming one of the 10 startups to be accelerated by leading international startup accelerator Startupbootcamp InsurTech in 2017. Aerobotics, Emerge Analytics and NuvaLaw are up against 20 other startups for the opportunity to collaborate with more than 400 mentors, partners, and investors over a three month period to build products to international standards.

Aerobotics, Emerge Analytics and NuvaLaw were three of the 633 applications received by Startupbootcamp InsurTech following a call for applications from innovative early stage startups specialising in insurance. Startupbootcamp InsurTech and MMI Holdings’ Exponential Ventures hosted the FastTrack tour in South Africa on 11 and 13 October 2016 where these startups presented their solutions for the insurance industry.  The events were open to startups looking for expert advice, exposure and the possibility of funding.

“We had a great week in South Africa and found a few gems. It is clear that InsurTech in South Africa has matured compared to 2015,” said Sabine VanderLinden, managing director for Startupbootcamp InsurTech.

Jaco Oosthuizen, Chief Exponential Officer, Exponential Ventures, said: “This year’s FastTrack tour showed that InsurTech is gaining momentum and catching up to the well-established Fintech startup space, both from a quality of the value propositions presented and the funding that is becoming available to support it. We are proud that we have three South African based InsurTech startups in the top 23 after this global selection process – up from one in 2015.

The three startups that made it:

Aerobotics, a young South African startup that develops drone technology used in the agricultural, logistical and mining industries, uses drones to acquire better data analysis using artificial intelligence algorithms. The business was started almost two years ago. They have developed an automated drone with software that allows farmers to scan their farms and provide analytics to manage their farms more efficiently, by both reducing costs and increasing yields. http://www.aerobotics.co.za/

Emerge Analytics solves complex business problems using advanced data analytics like artificial intelligence to help clients navigate the corporate data maze emerging with better answers, new insight and optimised profitability. http://www.emergeanalytics.com/

NuvaLaw is a digital negotiation platform between motor vehicle insurers. The product introduces workflow and measurable efficiency to an environment that is currently unstructured, and results in substantial saving in costs. The product also facilitates Online Dispute Resolution Information exchange & Legal Process Outsourcing to highly qualified and affordable lawyers and mediators. http://nuvalaw.com/

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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