Three years ago IS recognised how hard it was for tech-startups to build a business in South Africa. This was leading to a talent flight overseas and was leaving us all a lot poorer for it.
ISlabs is a virtual incubator and a business linkage facilitator. What this means is that ISLabs provides free technology and business support to early stage startups. Startups submit business plans to ISlabs and selected proposals are then forwarded to a panel of senior IS management and independent advisors. If the concept gets the green light, ISLabs will work with the idea’s originators to develop a support plan that ranges from business and technical mentorship to hosting and Internet access facilities. Temporary free hot desk space and access to IS boardrooms also assists startups who don’t always have business-like premises while they are still finding their feet.
We are often asked what's in it for IS if we don't take a stake in startups, but IS-Labs was never intended to be a profit generator for IS. Internet Solutions is naturally more of a late stage investor and would only get involved with these companies further down the line.
We support these early stage ventures because we believe that associating with clever people doing interesting things will, in the long term, be good for IS. While some of these startups are doing social good in South Africa, others are pure profit driven - but all are impacting on the Internet in South Africa. The IS staff love the fact that we do this and our clients love it too. It's great for the IS brand and it’s all about building relationships and doing our bit to improve the technology startup landscape in South Africa and ultimately continuing the drive to make the Internet in South Africa better.
The team is a dedicated group of individuals that work at IS and who give their time freely to be part of the ISlabs project. While the work environment at IS is demanding, the team recognise the importance of growing tech-startup scene in this country and are all proud to be able to contribute to it.