Innovation City’s ‘Tinder for Business’ Event Gets Africa’s Tech Startups ‘Swiped Right’

‘Possibility Babies.’ That’s what Kieno Kammies, co-founder of Innovation City calls making business connections at their inaugural ‘Tinder for Business’ speed dating event. With over 70 hopeful tech startups meeting top Venture Capital firms and Corporates in the country, this unique and fun event saw lots of possibility babies being made every 4 minutes in 24 grueling pitching sessions.  

Dynamic, tech-focused, coworking, events and startup/scale-up hub Innovation City Cape Town’s inaugural ‘Tinder for Business’ event was the idea of co-founder Stephan Ekbergh, travel industry pioneer and Swedish entrepreneur. “We set out to make Innovation City the Studio 54 of Cape Town, but for business. In pursuit of our goal of growing the tech ecosystem and making Cape Town the tech hub of Africa, we try to come up with unique ways to connect people,” he said. 

Out of 120 startups that applied to participate, 74 made it through to the final speed dating event. According to Managing Director Michelle Kleu, a few criteria had to be met: “The business had to be tech-based. The matches were made according to where they were in their business journey (seed, pre-seed, Series A, etc) and what category of tech they were in. The majority were fintechs, followed by startups in the communication, agritech and greentech spaces. There were some amazing businesses on the list!” she said. 

The investor attendance was equally as impressive: Microsoft, VISA, Norrsken22, Allan Gray, ShopriteX, FNB, Launch Africa Ventures, Momentum, Guardrisk, NEXT 176, IDF Capital, E4EAfrica, Untapped Global, ayoba , Endeavor, Savant, Khonology, Contango, RCS and Knife Capital all had stations set up where they waited for their matched ‘dates.’ 

Did they swipe right? According to feedback after the event, it seemed that all the startups were offered a second potential meeting. Wikus Stassen, who was pitching a startup company called remotehats on the night said: “This event was absolutely amazing and what a great success and turnout. I met wonderful people and hooked up with good prospects, leads and possible future partners.”

Paul Casarin, CEO of Pet Rock Investments said: “What was special for me – over and above meeting new potential investors – was reconnecting with old colleagues and friends. Thank you again for the opportunity!”

Innovation City thrives on moving its members forward in terms of business acceleration. The business model is dependent on nurturing, connecting and being the ultimate platform and space for growth.  

“I’m actually blown away, you know? I had no idea that we had such a facility in our own backyard; a whole ecosystem for entrepreneurs – I think it’s a brilliant idea. The platform is amazing!” said Zakhele Mzolo, Investment Principal from IDF Capital. 

Ekbergh said in a heartwarming speech after the event: “I just really love Cape Town. I want to stay here and enjoy life and do business here. And I want everyone else to have the same experience.”

Due to the success of this inaugural event, Tinder for Business 2.0 will definitely return again next year.   

About Innovation City: 

Innovation City is an invitation-only community of digital start-ups, scale-ups, corporates, entrepreneurs, world changers and innovators. It is a world-class network that helps accelerate digital innovation in Cape Town through fostering co-creation. Through partnership with Epicenter Stockholm and its 500+ membership companies, Innovation City can help fast track Cape Town’s digital ambitions.


Sandra Buckingam 

[email protected]