Geeks on a Plane: A night out in Cape Town

Wesgro in partnership with Silicon Cape hosted The Geeks on a Plane dinner in Cape Town last night in honour of the participants of the initiative.

The planned speakers for the evening consisted of the CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris; director of Silicon Cape, Alexandra Fraser; MD of 4di Justin Stanford; CFO of Zoona, Keith Davis and investors Monica Brand Engel and Doug Galen.

In Harris’ opening remarks, he touched on the significance of what Geeks on a Plane is trying to achieve. “What you’ve done as geeks on a plane, is gone to see for yourself,” referring to the misconceptions people usually have about foreign countries.

He expanded on these misconceptions, using Nigeria, one of the continent’s major startup ecosystems, as an analogy.

“Nigeria in SA has a bad reputation, there’s incredible economic competition between Nigeria and South Africa, but there’s also a reputation for all sorts of distasteful things which is entirely undeserved, and I only realised that when I went to Nigeria,” said Harris.

“Nigeria is obsessed with the news and understanding the world and that is a view of Nigeria no one in SA will tell you. You’ll only know it when you go see it like you did now. So I think Geeks on a plane and the whole ethos of what you do is exactly the right way to understand the world and to make better investments,” he continued.

Fraser also touched on the brief overview on the investment and startup ecosystem of the nation and Africa as a whole. “We have huge amounts of activity in our ecosystem, not only in Cape Town but in the country and across the continent.”

She also expanded on the needs of the ecosystem. “We still have challenges, it’s still early days. We still need more mentors to help our founders, we need more VCs… we need government to come to the party in terms of regulatory frameworks, we need far more exits and stronger linkages.”

According to Fraser, the Geeks on a Plane trip to SA and the rest of Africa serves as a good example of how investment and startup ecosystems are moving closer together.

Justin Stanford touched on the history and the current state of entrepreneurship and investment in Cape Town. “Where we are today is wildly different from where we were five years ago, we’ve got a small but vibrant angel community now that’s investing… there’s a good understanding of typical terms and deal structures now.”

“There was this kind of desert before and now there’s a ton of potential and a number of success stories, in particular, we’ve seen a few US exits take place in the last couple of years,” he continues.

He also touched on the willingness of VCs to invest in early stage and growth stage startups and expressed his excitement to see the first group of US investors to arrive on our shores.

For more in-depth analysis of the evening’s talks keep checking up on our site.

Original article