On 10 April 2024, Stellenbosch Shark Tank brought together over 200 tech-focused entrepreneurs and service providers at Workshack, Technopark. What was Stellenbosch Shark Tank, and why is it a significant event?


A platform for Innovation

A pioneering event aimed at nurturing the future of South Africa’s tech landscape unfolded at Workshack in Technopark Stellenbosch on 10 April 2024. Stellenbosch Shark Tank, the brainchild of Octoco, was a collaborative effort between Octoco, Workshack and Technopark Stellenbosch. On the one hand, the event was specificallydesigned as a platform for start-ups, scale-ups, and Series-A companies to pitch ideas and business plans to investors. On the other hand, it took the form of a networking opportunity bringing together like-minded actors from in and around the Stellenbosch tech scene with a more particular goal – establishing a quality-driven and sustainable technology development ecosystem in Stellenbosch.


Empowering Start-ups

Conceived of as part of Octoco’s commitment to empowering start-ups through the hurdles of early-stage development, the Stellenbosch Shark Tank stands as a testament to the vision of the company’s founders – Heinrich de Langeand Prof Gert-Jan van Rooyen. De Lange and Van Rooyen met at the University of Stellenbosch during Van Rooyen’s supervision of De Lange’s Master of Engineering thesis. Having traversed the rocky terrain of start-up entrepreneurship, both founders intimately understood the challenges faced by budding tech companies, particularly concerning early technology decisions. In 2019 they founded Octoco as a strategic consulting service providing invaluable guidance to start-ups in the University of Stellenbosch’s tech community. As their interactions with the community deepened, they recognised a pressing need for more comprehensive assistance in areas of technology development, roadmap implementation and, crucially, business development and funding. Responding to this demand, Octoco expanded its portfolio, including a dedicated software and hardware department, positioning itself as a holistic partner capable of addressing start-ups’ needs across the entire spectrum of development. This evolution has culminated in the establishment of Octoco as a trusted ally—a ‘partner that understands your full stack—from the bare metal to CTO and investor relations’. According to Octoco COO Jacques Burger, the Stellenbosch Shark Tank emerged from this foundation, as an initiative to provide start-ups with a platform to pitch their ideas, connect with investors, and access the resources essential for their growth and success.


From Networks to Ecosystems

Stellenbosch Shark Tank was a two-part event. The first component took the form of a half-day pitching event, where a shortlist of six carefully chosen companies pitched their ideas and plans to key investors. On the day, Immobazyme was successful in taking home a R35 000 prize, sponsored by Capitec Business Banking, for most innovative pitch. The second component was a networking event that drew over 200 interested entrepreneurs, service providers and investors from around Stellenbosch to connect over food, music, drinks and a spot of golf. Networking lies at the heart of business success, and events like the Stellenbosch Shark Tank serve as invaluable opportunities for forging meaningful connections. By bringing together entrepreneurs, service providers, and investors under one roof, the event facilitated a dynamic exchange of ideas and resources. The significance of the Stellenbosch Shark Tank and its success, however, extends beyond mere networking. Continued engagement and future initiatives are integral to fostering a vibrant and sustainable technology ecosystem in the Cape Winelands. By nurturing a sense of community and collaboration, the organisers have endeavoured to create an environment where innovation thrives and businesses flourish. Events like the Stellenbosch Shark Tank serve as focal points for this goal, providing a forum for knowledge sharing, mentorship, and investment. The long-term vision, Burger says, is to establish an incubator that will represent a dynamic ecosystem where entrepreneurs can unleash their creativity, experiment fearlessly, and iterate rapidly. In this nurturing environment, failure is not just accepted but embraced as an essential component of the innovation process.


Beyond Boardrooms

The resounding success of the pitching event and accompanying networking session serves as a testament to the event’s significance, signifying a monumental leap towards fostering innovation and entrepreneurship within the burgeoning tech landscape of the Cape Winelands. As start-ups secure funding, forge strategic partnerships, and bring ground-breaking ideas to fruition, the ripple effects will be felt far beyond the confines of the co-working spaces, boardrooms and business parks.

To explore the boundless opportunities and be part of this thriving ecosystem, sign up for our newsletter and register your business on the Techno App. If you are a business within Technopark and would like to propose a potential collaboration, let us know and we can start the conversation.

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