Shaking up the digital property pie

It is easy to dismiss low-commission, online estate agencies as corner cutters with unsustainable business models. They are alright for some, but surely the discerning property seller will pay for excellent service and the novice realises it would be foolish to go it alone when negotiating possibly the biggest deal of their lives? That dismissive view would be a mistake.

Read more on Property Professional 

German innovation consultancy expands to South Africa

Seedlab supports local companies navigating digital disruption

seedlab_logo@3x9 May 2017, Berlin, Germany and Cape Town, South Africa — German innovation consultancy, Seedlab GmbH, has expanded internationally with the launch of Seedlab South Africa in early 2017. The company helps corporates manage digitalisation successfully and brings seven years of experience and tested innovation methodology to South Africa.

Seedlab works with companies to identify new business models; introduces them to startups and entrepreneurial ways of working, such as the Lean Startup approach and rapid prototyping. It embeds innovation into their DNA and ultimately helps them take new, disruptive business models to market.

Seedlab South Africa was founded by digital strategist, Elli Gorgievska, and technology journalist, Vanessa Clark. German founder, Regine Haschka-Helmer plays an active role with local clients. The new company is currently working with estate agency RE/MAX Living to optimise the property sales cycle.

“I’m excited about applying our proven innovation techniques and methodologies in the South African market,” said Haschka-Helmer. “But it’s definitely not about parachuting in our ways of working. What we learn in a South African context will be applied during our work with clients in Europe too.”

The adoption of digitalisation by companies in African countries could contribute R4 trillion ($300 billion) to the continent’s economy by 2026, according to a recent report by Siemens, African Digitalization Maturity Report 2017. The report goes on to say that South Africa is leading digitalisation on the continent, with the continent generally tracking well when it comes to digital transformation.

Seedlab’s innovation approach — proven with companies such as Swiss Federal Railways and Volkswagen Financial Services — is to work with businesses to unlock latent creativity and problem-solving capabilities. In parallel the process resets the company’s way of working to be better suited to a disruptive, rapidly-changing, digital world. The Seedlab network of experts and startups ensures that the right brains are around the table to support the company as it interrogates its customer journey, assets and processes to figure out where the business opportunities lie. This helps address some of the major blockages businesses experience when trying to kickstart innovation programmes.

“We don’t think innovation should be outsourced,” said Gorgievska. “Not if you want it to be sustainable. But we do recognise the need that companies have in closing the gap between what they know they should be doing to innovate, and the practical steps they need to take to achieve this.

“For as long as it is needed, Seedlab creates the space and ensures the right people are involved to get clarity on what digitalisation means for the client, embeds innovation into their culture, and unlocks talent to help them achieve their business goals.”

As part of the job of supporting South African companies with digitalisation and innovation, Seedlab South Africa will introduce corporates to local and international startups, with a view to collaborating, forming partnerships and even acquisitions. In addition, the company and its German parent will form the nodes of a bridge between the startup ecosystems in Cape Town and Berlin.

“South African companies have a lot to learn from nimble, hungry startups,” said Clark. “Likewise startups can learn from companies that have weathered the ups and downs of the market. Unfortunately, they currently seem to be speaking different languages to each other, with a lot being lost in translation. Seedlab’s matchmaking of startups and established businesses is a double-edged sword, allowing startups to leapfrog to the next level of their growth plan, and companies to tap into startup mindsets and gain new capabilities and technology without building them from scratch.”

Seedlab South Africa works with companies looking to innovate, and creative agencies who want to widen their portfolio and offer innovation services to their clients.

About Seedlab South Africa

Seedlab South Africa,, is an innovation studio that supports businesses with the existential shift needed to embrace radical innovation. By helping companies disrupt their world before they are disrupted, Seedlab South Africa unlocks revenue streams in the new economy.

The company’s core belief is that sustainable innovation comes from within, so the focus is to unlock and entrench business’s own innovation and creativity to ensure growth and profits.

Ideate. Create. Build.

For more information, contact:

Vanessa Clark
+27 82 335 1117

The Whale Trail: views for days

img_9440The Whale Trail and I had some unfinished business. Three years ago I set off to do the trail in the middle of the massive storm that hit the Western Cape in November 2013. Of course we were sent straight home, but first enjoyed a lovely braai, and drank up all our wine and ate all our snacks at the Potberg hut before returning to Cape Town the next day. It was a fun overnight in nature with great people, but not really the 5-day trail extravaganza we’d been anticipating!

So this year I leapt at the chance to tackle the trail again, and it was well worth the wait.

Read the rest of my article on the Cape Nature blog.

Workshop: PR for startups

startup-pr-workshop-squarePR for startups. You’re changing the world. Now tell the world.

You’re ready to start telling the world about your startup. And you need PR to shout things from the rooftops.

Or do you?

Find out if you are public relations ready, learn about the state of the media, think about how you tell your story for different audiences and figure out how to maximise PR for your startup.

You’ll leave having refined your elevator pitch for media, plus have a few great ideas for announcements and thought leadership.

Vanessa Clark and Victoria Soroczynski have supported local and international startups with media activities here and abroad. This workshop, offered in partnership with MTN Solution Space, is based on what they have learnt works for startups, and what doesn’t.

Date: Thursday, 17 November 2016

Time: 4.30 to 6.30 pm (Workshop starts at 5.00 pm sharp)

Venue: The Learning Lab, MTN Solution Space, UCT Graduate School of Business (map:

Book your space here:


Help is literally at hand for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in South Africa

In amongst all the frothing at the mouth about the latest Apple iPhone-this and Samsung Galaxy-that, I do love a good “feature phones change lives” story. So I eagerly joined today’s Cape Town launch of Help@hand, a mobile information service that provides people who are refugees, asylum seekers or migrants with a way to stay informed about their legal rights in South Africa. The USSD-based feature phone service is also a platform to report xenophobic attacks, corruption or unlawful arrests.

Read on for more on