Meet the 13 startups selected for the Drone Startup-Up Accelerator Programme

Thirteen SA startups selected for a drone accelerator programme which kicked off last month are all hoping to score thousands of rands in funding from the programme’s backers.

Developed by Mzansi Aerospace Technologies, the Drone Start-Up Accelerator Programme got under way on 10 February at Ekurhuleni West TVET College’s Centre for Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator in Katlehong, Gauteng.

The programme, which was officially launched last Friday (28 February) has so far netted funding by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).

Pledges for funding have also come from the City of Ekurhuleni, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), United Drone Holdings and Royal HaskoningDHV, a global engineering firm.

Funding has been pledged for those that achieve product-market fit during the Drone Start-Up Accelerator Programme

In addition to the business skills the entrepreneurs will learn in the accelerator programme, the Royal HaskoningDHV team will offer training and mentorship in the likes of data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) that will enable them to deliver a complete service to their future clients.

‘R450k committed to programme so far’

Mzansi Aerospace Technologies founder Victor Radebe (pictured above) told Ventureburn by email that he has so far got commitment of R450 000 in seed funding from Seda to run the programme, which only covers 15% of the programme’s total costs.

He said he aims to raise the remaining 85% by following up on pledges from the NYDA and City of Ekurhuleni, as the programme’s other backers.

The programme will make use of the Lean Start-up Methodology and has been split into five four-week phases.

Each of the respective phases will cover the following areas: problem-solution fit, minimum viable product (MVP), validation, product-market fit, and scaling and exit.

The first programme will run as a pilot project and we will be launching the second pilot Programme at the Vhembe TVET College in Limpopo, he added. The exact date to be confirmed in the due course, he said.

“Upon successful implementation of the pilot of this programme, it is intended at extending to other provinces to reach at least 100 startups,” said Radebe.

He said funding has been pledged for those that achieve product-market fit during the programme. He did not specify much in funding would be available.

The 13 startups that have been selected are:

Fade Communications & Video Services (Jim Nkoana): An established video services business that is seeking to integrate drone technology into filming and videography.

Ziyakhipha Projects & Services (Makabongwe & Kelebogile Ngceba): Maintenance of cell towers and looking to drone technology for inspections and maintenance.

Kurai (Clive Mathe and Samuel Mathekga): An agritech startup that deploys crop spraying drones.

Nafazi Za Angani (Shaun Msiza & Gift Kgadima): An established drone business in the built environment that offers surveying and mapping.

QP Drone Tech (Queen Ndlovu and Pumi Makatini): A drone hardware startup that is looking develop an all-weather drone prototype in partnership with Denel.

Rine Holdings (Lufuno Mulungwa): A security tech startup that plans to deploy drone technology for security and surveillance.

Shibus Constructions CC (Blandina Motswalo and Thandi Motswalo): A construction company that is looking to use drones for road and bridge inspections and to monitor construction projects.

KasieLabs (Siphokazi Nciza): A training startup that is accredited by the MICT Seta and plans to offer simulated drone training services.

Mgwambani Security & Projects (Mashako Mathebula): A security company that aims to deploy drone technology for security and surveillance.

Extol Jireh (Shardeon Marshall): An established filming and photography company that is looking to add drone services.

Africa Drone Kings (Vice Phiri, Vhengani Mudzielwana, Ntwanano Mushwana and Andrew Mokoto): The startup aims to offer drone hardware repairs and maintenance.