Maria Pienaar has joined Blue Label Ventures, the boutique business accelerator from JSE-listed Blue Label Telecoms and Blue Pencil Ventures, as a founding director.
A former CIO at Cell C, Pienaar brings to the accelerator two decades of experience working in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley tech industry.
Pienaar has helped launch many successful wireless and Internet applications and services for enterprise and consumer markets. At Cell C, she helped launch the first WiFi Calling service in Africa, as well as innovative partnerships with the likes of Facebook.
Prior to Cell C, Pienaar was at the Immersion Lab, and before that, a consultant with Finpro helping to establish the first Finnish Innovation Center FinNode USA.
Pienaar will work closely with Tallies Taljaard, co-founder of Blue Label Ventures. Her experience complements that of Taljaard, who has been commercialising, coaching and mentoring scale-up technology businesses for 13 years.
Taljaard comments: “Maria’s business acumen is ideal in helping high-potential tech companies accelerate their growth. Her in-depth knowledge of the telco and technology ecosystem, coupled with her Silicon Valley experience, will be invaluable in defining a new model for the acceleration of start-ups in South Africa. We currently have six companies on our shortlist at various stages of engagement.”
Pienaar adds: “Small and medium enterprises are key to unlocking inclusive growth in the South African economy, and the technology industry offers many entrepreneurial opportunities. We will provide a much-needed platform for developing innovative, fast-growing tech businesses into globally competitive companies.”
Blue Label Ventures focuses on post revenue scale-ups that are maturing from their incubation phase and which are ready to develop into more mature businesses. It will provide high potential South African tech businesses with access to funding, market opportunities, channels and skills they may need to take their commercial success to the next level.