Matthew Buckland has grown his marketing and publishing businesses, Creative Spark and Memeburn.com, to 12 full-time staff members in little more than a year. At the moment he complains about the pace of growth – as in not quite fast enough – and, to inject further fuel into his budding media empire, he is announcing the launch of a series of new burn.com websites.
First up is Gearburn.com, which soft-launched last week and which will focus on reviews and news on gadgets and games. The site will be fully operational by the end of this week (that is, by 22 April 2011). Gearburn.com intends offering video reviews as well as more traditional text based reviews.
Several months down the line is Ventureburn.com, which will focus on the venture capital and start-up scene, followed by the Burn Awards, which will recognise innovative and entrepreneurial products in the mobile, ‘Net or app space.
Memeburn.com itself, billed as a ‘Mashable/Techcrunch for emerging market tech’, has grown to a monthly audience of 80 000 and accounts for about a quarter of Buckland’s business. The site is expanding its editorial focus outside South Africa to include the other BRICS countries, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China. Ultimately, the intention is to grow the site and content to a point where Memeburn South Africa and Memeburn BRICS can be split.
Buckland believes SA media has some inherent strengths that makes it competitive in the emerging market space, including the fact that it operates in both the developed and developing markets while also having great command of the English language and Western business practice.
He found Cape Town an easier location to take the leap of faith and start his own business, saying an “optical illusion” in Cape Town makes the start-up/entrepreneurial community seem bigger than it is.
Cape Town is wedged between a mountain and the big blue sea, of course, which forces business to be quite concentrated. Because of this tight geographical spread, the entrepreneurial community are bound closer together than in a city as vast as Johannesburg.
Resource sharing, co-opetition and lots of goodwill help break the isolation many entrepreneurs feel when they launch a business. The new Creative Spark/Memeburn offices on the corner of Kloof Street and Park Road, for example, sport tables donated or sold on the cheap from rivals Quirk and iafrica.com.
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