Zach George, Barclays Tech Lab Africa / Startup Bootcamp





Silicon Valley is synonymous with tech startups – it is a place that is today the home of the worlds most well known Internet companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, PayPal and Tesla but to name just a few.  For a long time it has been said that if you want to build a $1 billion tech company you have to do it in Silicon Valley – and it is well documented that this is largely driven by the supporting ecosystem that surrounds the startups in the San Francisco bay area.

One of the more prominent components of that ecosystem are the hugely successful accelerators like 500 Startups, Y-combinator and Techstars – but what happens when you try to replicate these accelerator models in a country like South Africa?

Well, when you look at some of the economic and technology barriers that we face here, some would say that it simply wouldn’t be possible. And yet, I was lucky enough to be introduced to an entrepreneur who is doing just that. In fact he’s not only done it once, but he’s done it twice. And successfully too.

His name is Zach George. An ex-Wall Street investment banker turned entrepreneur and who is pioneering corporate innovation and startup acceleration in Africa.

What I love about this interview is the depth to which we explore how to design, build and potentially even exit a startup in Africa – he’s a walking treasure trove of information that is relevant to all entrepreneurs and it’s a large reason why this show is a little bit longer than others.

Oh, and pay particular attention to the part of the show where we give away something to all our listeners. It’s worth about R1000 bucks so all you have to do pay attention.

So without further adieu… enter Zach George.



  1. Zach’s investment banking turned entrepreneur journey [3:11]
  2. The 5 essential components of a successful startup ecosystem [5:51]
  3. Insights into replicating a Silicon Valley accelerator model in Cape Town  [11:56]
  4. Why most $1 billion companies are B2C companies and B2B-2C models work best in SA [14:43]
  5. The marriage made in heaven – when startups work with large corporates [21:01]
  6. Why SnapScan didn’t become a Unicorn [23:18]
  7. The major disruptive technologies that entrepreneurs can take advantage of [26:08]
  8. The Invoice Exchange – solving cashflow problems for SA’s small business [32:52]
  9. The implications of “open innovation ecosystems” for entrepreneurs [36:15]
  10. The difference between incubators and accelerators like Startup Bootcamp [39:01]
  11. How and when entrepreneurs should give away equity in their startups [41:51]
  12. The 5 ways that startup founders can exit their business [46:22]
  13. Insights into the Ruby Box acquisition by Naspers and the downsides of cashing out [55:19]
  14. How Startup Bootcamp is funded and the role of enterprise development capital [58:47]
  15. The skill sets required to build a successful startup [1:03:01]
  16. Why its mission critical for startups to have a board and who should be on it [1:05:53]
  17. The Domestly startup – how they iterated their way to success [1:09:47]
  18. An introduction into the Lean Iterator methodology and platform [1:13:47]
  19. Putting Zach’s entrepreneurial journey onto a billboard [1:16:12]
  20. The three things that Zach is not great at [1:16:41]
  21. The question that nobody asks Zach but he wishes they did [1:17:13]
  22. Insight into Zach’s second passion [1:18:19]
  23. The thing that keeps Zach up at night [1:19:28]
  24. How Zach achieves work/life balance [1:22:13]
  25. Who comes to mind when he thinks of the word “successful” [1:25:06]
  26. Who comes to mind when he thinks of the word “punchable” [1:26:21]
  27. The advice he would give himself as a 20 year old [1:27:56]
  28. Zach’s why as an entrepreneur [1:29:11 ]