Up-and-coming student entrepreneurs at the University of Cape Town (UCT) pulled out all the stops to showcase their business talents, impressing judges during the internal round of the Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition.
A total of 18 students participated in the three-day pitch event held virtually between 8 and 10 June. The winners were announced on Friday, 11 June, and eight budding entrepreneurs (two per category) will proceed to the regional leg of the competition. UCT’s top student entrepreneurs will go head to head with their peers at Stellenbosch University, the University of the Western Cape, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of South Africa.
“Every year I am inspired by our talented student entrepreneurs, and this year was no different.”
“Every year I am inspired by our talented student entrepreneurs, and this year was no different. Their business ideas are ultramodern, creative and solve real-world challenges. It’s exactly what our country needs at this time,” said Nadia Waggie, UCT’s Entrepreneurship Intervarsity coordinator and the head of operations at Careers Service.
The Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition is an initiative of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education programme, and the internal round is hosted by the Careers Service department. The competition aims to identify the top student entrepreneur at each of South Africa’s 26 public universities, recognise and showcase their businesses and attract investors to their enterprise. It also provides aspiring entrepreneurs whose businesses are still in the idea phase an opportunity to pitch their concepts.
A nail-biting round
Waggie said that nerves and excitement filled the virtual air, and the atmosphere was palpable as students delivered their three-minute business pitches. But students demonstrated a healthy competitive spirit and supported each other every step of the way, she added.
Participants entered the following categories during the internal round:
- New business ideas
- Existing business – tech
- Existing business – social impact
- Existing business – general.
She said after students concluded their pitches, the panel of judges were standing by to conduct a two-minute question and answer (Q&A) session, to gain a better understanding of each concept.
“It was absolutely nail-biting but everyone did so well and we couldn’t be prouder of our students,” Waggie said.
Waggie said once students responded to the judges’ Q&A, the judges were faced with the tough decision of choosing just eight contestants, in line with the competition’s stringent requirements.
The top eight students proceeding to the next round are:
- Basheer Phiri, whose software-as-a-service food delivery start-up, Viero, enables users to launch a food dropshipping online store in seconds.
- Chido Dzinotyiwei’s business Vambo makes learning African languages and culture accessible using an online platform.
- Veroshan Chetty’s marketing and business solutions business has recently developed a strategic plan that seeks to address a massive skills gap in the South African market.
- Indiphile Jaji’s Varsity Kitchen produces homemade meals for students who are either too busy to cook or are always on the go.
- Vuthlarhi Shirindza’s mobile application Chewi makes online veterinary consultations and pet care simple and accessible.
“We are proud of all our students; they were so well prepared and presented like pros.”
- Tshegofatso Masenya’s GoShare initiative is a crowd-funding platform dedicated to university students in need of financial assistance.
- Nkateko Shilaluke’s business idea In Touch offers complete control over an individual’s personal information. It’s inspired by the Protection of Personal Information Act.
- Ammar Canani’s business aims to decrease the time people spend on mundane administrative tasks through automation.
“We are proud of all our students; they were so well prepared and presented like pros. This round went off without a glitch — well, that’s if we don’t mention load shedding, but we navigated that bump in the road successfully,” said Waggie.
The regional round of the competition will be hosted by Stellenbosch University later this year.