It was extremely difficult to turn away six young ICT entrepreneurs from this year's VeloCITI programme due to the high calibre of companies vying for the 15 spots on the programme, says Tamzin Martin, the project manager of VeloCITI.
This came after a two-day bridging course held jointly by CITI, Cape Venture Partners and PeerPower this week, where the VeloCITI mentors had to choose 15 out of 21 attending companies.
"It was clear to the assessors that this group has got people who are really focused on their businesses with a passion and desire to make the business succeed," says Martin.
VeloCITI, which has been running for three years, aims to grow young ICT entrepreneurs and companies who have great business ideas, but may lack the experience or support to grow the business from an idea into a profit making company. CITI, Cape Venture Partners, PeerPower and the Western Cape Provincial Government are partners of the VeloCITI project.
During the two-day bridging course, the assessors evaluated people's ability to listen and learn fast, as well as the quality of their businesses.
According to David Murray, one of the facilitators from Cape Venture Partners, the quality of applicants seems to be improving year-on-year.
"When we choose this year's winners we will look at each company's growth, turnover, job creation potential as well as the ability to pay a decent market-related salary," says Murray.
In 2007 all participating companies were judged on the same criteria. The VeloCITI programme will run for nine months, ending at the end of October.
Martin says applications for next year's group are already open and will close at the end of September 2008.
Last year's VeloCITI winners have made huge strides in business terms. Red Button, MLT Tech, Silulo Ulutho Technologies and Freelancentral are now fully-fledged businesses, which operate on sound business principles that were learned from the VeloCITI programme.
According to Murray, VeloCITI does not teach people about technology but about business. "We learn lessons each year and this year we have changed emphasis in certain areas, focusing on marketing, sales and finance," she says.
Mignon Lotz, a mentor from PeerPower, says: "We were really excited by the calibre and quality of people that applied and are looking forward to working with them and developing their potential. Our programme from last year was very successful and we intend to improve on that this year. We love working with entrepreneurs and being part of their development and seeing the growth over time is incredibly satisfying."
The 15 companies that have been chosen this year are: Real Systems Training; Steps Engineering; Breadbin Interactive; Sistas Showcasing; SA Women; Rainbow IT and Communications; RGB and Alpha; Digital Documents; Umtha Telecom; Nclose; Ugenix Software Solutions; Nomad-One.Com; MFI Data; Sibaya IT Solutions; Incubator; and Spacesoft.