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Object Astra: matchmaking for start-ups

If you have a business idea but don’t have the skills needed to launch the company, a new platform is offering a solution.

A matchmaking tool for start-ups, Object Astra, has been launched in South Africa, promising to “help people turn ideas for new companies into reality and make money from their skills by investing sweat equity”.

The new platform uses an algorithm to match up people who have a business idea with those who have the skills they need to help launch the company.

With millions of people having already lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, many have considered starting their own businesses or finding creative ways to supplement their income — but they cannot always connect with people they need to enable and encourage a business to really take off.

Object Astra aims to help fill that gap by using its algorithms and artificial intelligence to link people who have a business idea with those who have the skills they need, in exchange for equity in the business.

The platform, founded by two former JP Morgan technologists, has been in development for several years, but its launch has been accelerated as a result of the pandemic.

“Being a South African myself and growing up in a tiny town in Jeffreys Bay, I know the drive, power and sheer will our country has to build great things.” says co-founder Christiaan Trahms.

“We sped up the launch when it became clear that millions of South Africans out of work need to do something to supplement their incomes and change their lives in being their own boss.  So many of these people will have great ideas for a business, but don’t know where to look for advice, or find the people with the skill sets they need.”

It has already been used in the UK, and is now open to registrations in South Africa.  

An example of an early user is Claire Gifford, who decided to use her pharmaceutical background to create a new face mask business. Through Object Astra, she found a business partner with media connections, a mentor for guidance, a local supplier of fabrics and five seamstresses to make the masks.

Her company, Pharma-Saurus, has been trading successfully for six months. She now also offers her skills two days a week to Edulesco, a technology tutoring business she found through Object Astra, in exchange for equity in the company.

The site costs R15 a month to use.

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