Posted by Dan at 01th January 2013

The Southbridge – A Creative Tech Hub

Post amended Jan 2013

Sadly I was not successful at opening a business/entrepreneurs club in Cape Town in 2012 as I’d hoped. I couldn’t raise the extra funds or get enough general buy-in. I spent £10s of thousands over a 6 month period designing, anchor leasing, flying to and fro to meet interested parties, an amazing journey albeit temporarily cul-de-sac’d.

But my quest isn’t dead just yet.

From my perspective there are 3 things Cape Town (And SA) does well; tourism, financial services and creative tech. So I have decided to approach from a new angle, reduce outlay/risk, venue size and function, increase it’s commercial potential and focus solely on the creative tech scene in South Africa – Web, marketing, advertising, apps, mobile etc.

Original concept drawings:

The Concept

Think Groucho Club for Geeks or Soho House for Scientists but one step up from the Startup scene. I’ve provisionally called it The Southbridge i.e. a bridge to the southern hemisphere.

There is a burgeoning digital sector in South Africa, full of smart techies building web, mobile, touchscreen, augmented reality widgets and thingies that need channel to market internationally.

There are a number of great initiatives and collectives in Cape Town that are fuelling the startup end of the market, but little support for those who already have a sustainable business. The middle to higher end of the market.

So the opportunity is to create an exclusive club/hub of individuals, organisations and companies who want to collaborate on digital products, enjoy an inspiring place to work and play, learn and network, while accelerating the growth of their businesses. I also want the venue to be a showcase for South African tech entrepreneurship and innovation. (I’m not forgetting international business people who will simply enjoy using the space when in Cape Town).

Where better to do that than in foothills of Table Mountain? 

Facilities: Meeting Rooms • Bar / Restaurant • Hot Desks • High Speed Internet Access • Swimming pool / Jacuzzi • Outdoor Bar / Terrace • TV and relaxation space (Pictures are of a potential new space pre-fitout)

Club Aims: To offer an inspirational (net)working and thinking space for the digital community where we also collaboratively build digital products for international brands. The offline version of our online world  • Encourage 2-way investment opportunities between South Africa and the rest of the world • Invest in local businesses with profit generated from the club

Additional Activities: Dinner and Lunch Talks/Seminars • Educational Forums • Mentoring and Coaching • Idea Pitching • Networking • Collaborative Projects • Private Parties • Sports / Live Events on TV

Suggested Modus Operandi: Membership is invite only and focussed on the creative and tech sectors • Numbers limited to <500 members and split between start-up, small, med and large business • Club is managed by a rotating board of 7 members • % of profit invested in local opportunities, equity retained, with the caveat that a % of their profit is also paid forward

The Financials: Membership will cost R500-R3000 per month depending on usage, ability to pay, location • Day passes available at R200 • Club revenue will come from F&B (standard rates), events, venue hire, membership, and sponsorship • We will invest an average of R1m/year in local business/social enterprise • Reciprocal club memberships operational • We will look to open international venues based on the same principles within 3 years

We need: 1-5 sponsors to raise R100k/mth in total and support the initiative for a minimum of 1 year • 20 Founder Members to operate as ambassadors and encourage membership • General awareness for the initiative

With the Rand currently at R14-£1 developing tech here is cheaper than ever.

Interested in joining? Sponsoring? Hearing more?

email dan@danbowyer.me or call +27 715 203098 or +44 7766 776611

12 Comments

  1. Hi Dan,
    You include in your description: “Reciprocal club memberships operational”. Which other clubs have you in mind to partner with? By the way, I have reservations over this concept; Cape Town is too small a place for this and I doubt this club will be able to attract enough of the kind of people you seek who will be prepared to pay those fees for this undertaking to be viable. You best save your time and money.
    Your Cordially,

    1. I always admire your candour George, and your insistance on measuring and analysing all of the data. You may well be spot-on. I’m doing feasibility research now. To be candid back: I don’t even want to run a venue which is what I will end up doing for a period of time to refine the business, if indeed we do actually go for it. However, I will happily do so, as my gut feeling is that Cape Town IS ready for something like this.

      With the right international club connections, members and sponsorship, it may well get enough international traffic to combat the somewhat flaky Cape Town contingent. There is a GREAT community of creative tech heads down here. This club is for them. There is something in this. I’d just rather someone else did it!!! BUT… We will see…

      1. My suggestion, Dan, is that you consider a reciprocal membership arrangement here in Cape Town with Kelvin Grove and the Mowbray Golf Club.
        What could also work well would be a similar arrangement with selected clubs in Johannesburg, which will appeal to those entrepreneurs who find themselves frequently travelling on business between the two cities; they might appreciate something of a ‘home from home” when away from their own base :-)

  2. If we win our fight here I’ll be your sponsor! Looks amazing (but that’s probably cos it’s still raining here!) #saveadamstreet

  3. Great concept! Love the idea, and think it will be a great success if executed correctly. Let me know what I can do to help!

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