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SA’s Lumkani fire detector gets to global Venture finals

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16 start-ups from across the globe with a mission to create positive change have been announced as finalists of The Venture. The forward-thinking businesses, including Lumkani from South Africa, are competing to win a share of $1 million in funding from Chivas Regal.

After receiving over 1 000 entries from five continents, Chivas Regal has selected Lumkani as part of a diverse shortlist of 16 aspiring start-ups tackling a range of social and environmental issues. The finalists have been chosen to represent their local countries in The Venture global final, based not only on their potential to be profitable as a business, but also on their ability to offer scalable and sustainable impact solutions.

Each finalist has a truly unique story to tell about the inspiration for their startup. “The devastating shack fires that took place on New Year’s day 2013 in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, and displaced thousands of people was a catalyst for research and development that has brought us to create an affordable fire detection device to mitigate the loss of life and property,” said David Gluckman, co-founder of Lumkani.

“Enabling the growth of social entrepreneurs has become a key focus for Chivas Regal through The Venture campaign. We are really excited to have Lumkani representing South Africa on a global stage and we urge fellow South Africans to vote for Lumkani’s life-saving initiative,” said Paul Scanlon, Managing Director of Pernod Ricard for South Africa and Namibia.

From 11 May to 14 June, Lumkani will go head to head with the rest of the finalists in a public vote, competing for an initial share of $250 000 (from the $1 million fund). People from across the world can view the finalist profiles and vote for their favourite at The Venture.

The competition will then culminate in San Francisco on 24 July when finalists pitch for the remaining share of the $1 million fund in front of an expert global judging panel. Sonal Shah, former Director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the White House under US President Barack Obama, is the latest judge to be announced alongside Adrian Grenier (actor, producer and social entrepreneur), Morgan Clendaniel (Editor of Fast Company’s Co.Exist) and Alex Ricard (Pernod Ricard Chairman and CEO).

In the week leading up to The Venture Final Pitch, the finalists will attend an Accelerator Week in Silicon Valley – the epicentre of the startup world – where they will receive mentorship from influential figures in social enterprise and companies such as Google, Duarte and IDEO.

To find out more and vote for your finalist, visit The Venture.

The Finalists

Country Company Founder(s) Overview
Brazil MGov Guilherme Finkelfarb Lichand MGov is a consulting firm that specialises in public policy management and social impact. We use mobile technology to better understand the demand for, and evaluation of, public services by speaking to those that they affect most; the people who use them.
Bulgaria Arthesis Demir Tonchev At Arthesis we create beautiful prosthetic covers for leg amputees who want to express themselves boldly and creatively. Wearing our covers makes amputees feel confident the same way as wearing stylish clothes. An Arthesis cover weighs about 250 grams, which makes it very convenient to wear.
Chile Algramo Jose Manuel Moller Affordable food is hard to come by in the outskirts of Santiago, Chile. There are few supermarkets and the produce at small stores can often be up to 40% more expensive than in larger outlets. To address this issue, we at Algramo buy essential products, such as rice, beans, lentils and sugar, in bulk from suppliers and distribute them directly to small convenience stores through our unique mechanical dispensers.
China Coolpeds Tony Chan At Coolpeds our mission is to offer an innovative, compact and eco-friendly way to travel. One that not only helps people get around efficiently, but also improves local communities by reducing pollution and congestion. So we’ve designed and manufactured the lightest electric transporters in the world. Our scooters are not only light, they’re also foldable, produce zero emission and will even charge your phone.
Columbia Diseclar Juan Nicolas Suarez Bonilla Where others see rubbish, garbage and waste, we at Diseclar see furniture. Thanks to our inventive manufacturing process, we’re able to turn waste materials into stylish furniture that can be used in- and outdoors.
Dom. Republic Conuco Solar Raul Aguayo Many people don’t have the space in their home or place of business to have their own solar panels installed. Conuco Solar will ensure that anyone can still have access to clean, renewable energy by essentially renting space at our solar farm, rather than having to set up their panels at home or their business where space may be limited.
Gulf Dumyé Sahar Wahbeh Dumyé handcrafts personalised cloth dolls and, for every doll we sell, we give one to an orphan to make their own through an art workshop. In this way, we believe we can bring love and light into the lives of both our children and those who have not been spoken for.
Hong Kong Diamond Cab Doris Leung Diamond Cab is the first ever barrier-free taxi service in Hong Kong. Our vision is to provide a safe, accessible service that makes it easy for a previously marginalised and vulnerable group of people to interact with the world, while also being a driving force to promote genuine social progress in our society.
Japan SenSprout Yoshihiro Kawahara SenSprout’s mission is to make farming more efficient, to produce more crops using less water. We help farmers better understand their crops and fields with our low-cost sensor technology. Our wireless field-monitoring system is enabled by a unique “printed electronics” sensor, making it possible to monitor soil conditions and environmental information in real time.
Mexico ¡Échale! a Tu Casa Mexico Francesco Piazzesi Lack of affordable housing is a social problem, so we’ve come up with a model that makes the community part of the solution. We aim to provide at-risk families across Mexico with ecological, affordable housing by helping them build their own.
South Africa Lumkani David Gluckman At Lumkani we use technology to decrease the risk of devastating fires in informal settlements. Our innovative fire detector was designed to mitigate the loss of life and property caused by the spread of shack fires.
Thailand Socialgiver Aliza Napartivaumnuay Socialgiver is a lifestyle website with a social twist. We offer handpicked services and experiences, such as hotel deals, gift-cards for restaurants and tickets for events from leading brands at exclusive rates. For every purchase, 70% goes directly to support social projects of the buyer’s choice and 30% helps grow the Socialgiver community.
UK Two Fingers Brewing Co. Will Waldron Two Fingers Brewing Co. is a beer brand that gives back to those that drink it by giving all our profits to Prostate Cancer UK. Using the finest handpicked ingredients, we create beer that’s not just better tasting, but better for men everywhere.
Ukraine Line 24 Ilona Kotova There are over 13 million elderly citizens in Ukraine and more than eight million people with disabilities. Some have no immediate family or their relatives live far away. Line 24 provides a 24-hour medical alarm service for these vulnerable, at-risk groups.
Uruguay Chipsafer Victoria Alonsoperez Chipsafer is a platform that will transform the way farmers care for their livestock. It not only tracks and detects anomalies in cattle behaviour, but does so remotely, autonomously and in real-time. Chipsafer then sends all this information directly to the farmer, who can access it on a laptop or phone.
US Vendedy Christine Souffrant Vendedy is a social enterprise startup that is digitising the street vendor industry via mobile technology. For the first time, street vendors can upload photos of their products online via mobile devices so that a traveling consumer can search, purchase, and pay for an item via SMS.

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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