10 finalists for ZOL Startup Challenge selected as semis are wrapped up

Nigel Gambanga Avatar
ZOL Startup Challenge

Earlier today the ZOL Startup Challenge 2014 semi finals were wrapped up thinning down the participating startups to ten finalists.

Twenty three diverse business cases were pitched to the panel of judges who listened to solutions that covered various fields from agriculture, e-learning, social networking, online gambling and sports information.

In the end the judges settled on the following ten startups (In alphabetical order)

  • Dream Big – a career guidance platform for high school students
  • Happy Maids – An app that handles the hiring and placement of domestic help
  • Hooked Up – A social networking platform for varsity students
  • Link Up – A platform that acts as a CV database that links students seeking attachment with companies that have vacancies
  • Ndeipi – A local dating and friend finding site
  • QOR – A platform that integrates apps that a user prefers into a single access centre
  • Room 8 – An Airbnb- style platform for Zimbabwean college residences
  • SociallyZim – an online discount platform that capitalises on resource latency in the service industry
  • Zhet – A mobile gaming app with a points and credit system that is convertible to redeemable monetary value
  • Zimbomusic – A platform for showcasing and distributing local music

These startups will now go through a mentorship process between now and the ZOL Startup Challenge finals set for the 7th of November in Harare.

Speaking at the event today the new CEO of ZOL Denny Marandure mentioned the ISPs commitment to supporting initiatives that have a positive impact on the ecosystem, even if they are not necessarily aligned to profit. He also highlighted the opportunity that the internet and technology was providing which ZOL was keen on identifying and encouraging.



  1. ic0n1c

    These start ups look exciting! Can’t wait for commercial launch of Happy Maids , Hooked Up & Zimbomusic .

    1. Anonymous

      Hi ic0n1c, the zimbo music is already up and running. It is fully operational and we are working on improvement the site…..the link is ww.zimbomusic.com

      1. ic0n1c

        Thanks let me check it out

  2. Ngoni Muzondo

    The judges did a thorough and a well executed job in coming up with the list of the finalists for this year’s challenge. There seems to be a huge opportunity for e-learning web and mobile applications that are targeted for the student market.
    Because of this, am convinced that the winners of the 2014 challenge will come from any of the start ups that are targeting the student market.
    The student market is huge and is comprised of a captive market audience that is ready to shell out money for a good value proposition. This is a market that is crying out for real value before it parts away with its money.
    They are not in the high income bracket, they are not always liquid. However, the students know where to bet their dollar. This market knows what convenience and value is all about.
    For the start ups that made it into the finals, congratulations.

    May the best idea with the best value proposition, Win. Looking forward to the commercial launch of LinkUp and am pinning my hopes on this one being the winners this Year.

    1. geeklander.net

      I am not sure if judges did anything when everyone knew there was Big Brains way before they even arrived. I saw a lot of brilliant projects current tested and running but I don understand how guys like room 8 and Happy Maids made it when there is no technology other than a website being involved it the whole projects and SociallyZim… Really I don see the technology in these ones???

      1. Ngoni Muzondo

        My thinking and approach of this Start Up challenge is this: it is not about the technology platform that one has built and launched, rather it is/must be about the business model behind the technology.
        Where is the money in the technology platform that one would have built? We can built a great technology product but if one forgets how to make money with that technology, then it becomes a useless and time wasting pastime.
        I think all the start ups that participated had great technology, and it really shows that young Zimbabweans can now build technology products that might as well stand out in Africa and beyond, however, the major shortcoming that most people displayed is the business modeling skills. How is the money going to be made? That is question that the ultimate winner/ winners must answer very well and demonstrate that they can deliver on this aspect.

  3. Anonymous

    Ah Zhet lol

  4. Anonymous

    Please give us the named of the individuals behind these names. Its not just Facebook – Its Mark Zuckerberg..its not just Microsoft – Its Bill Gates. Its not just Econet – Its Strive Masiiyiwa.

    1. joo

      Its very funny you posted this as Anonymous

  5. Khal Drogo

    Shemaiah, congratulations on your app “Ndeipi” which made it to the ten finalists.

  6. 1 of the Finalists


    You want the names so that you can search for us on Fb, LinkedIn and find some sense of solace/ deceit?
    I choose to remain anonymous. If our ideas are good enough, you will eventually know our names, just like we know the names of the ‘greats’ you mentioned above.

    There were amazing ideas showcased at the semi final round. I didn’t expect such brilliance and I hope that everyone who was there will do their best to bring their idea to life. We decided to launch our start-up, whether we win the challenge or not.

    Participating in the challenge and being selected for the semi-final round means someone out there thought your idea was viable. Let’s do it guys.

  7. deathknellofinnovation

    I think I once said it before that the format and structure of zol startup changed fundamentally and the result is not pleasing at all. There is to much emphasis on how these startups will make money. That question is really a difficult one. Even the startups in USA and the world over are falling short on this. Personally I am against the idea of creating apps that solve a problem. I would like to see apps that create a NEED instead. I have no time to continue writing but we are headed to the worst zol challenge ever

    1. tinm@n

      Personally I am against the idea of creating apps that solve a problem. I would like to see apps that create a NEED instead.

      You’re thinking backwards. The NEED for something drives the market which drives the service/solution you would wish to offer.

    2. YoungTrep

      Dude, whatever you are,
      You are lost. You can only make money if you are solving a problem or meeting a need. No customers=no money. I guess your approach is not for business, it’s for something else which we don’t know.

      The presentation that showed clearly the product, value proposition and how money was going to be made scored more points. The real point of these challenges is to eventually create real businesses that actually make money. Check out how AirBnB started.

      Start your own challenge with your methodology. It should be exciting to see who wins there.

      But eish at this point, I doubt your personal credentials in the tech startups.

    3. chanyane

      There is an emerging business case that requires need generation followed by satisfying the need. Need generation or its lower cousin need discovery is based on the “Quality that surprises” approach which goes something like “Create a product that the client does not know exists, will never imagine in his entire life time…. etc”. Sometimes need generation is generated by emerging products that meet a known need and generate a unknown one. Unfortunately imagining such products is a tough call, hence we all promote the “meet the need” as the only panacea of success for start-ups. The tech start-up ecosystem should move further up the food chain and embrace what @deathkennelofinnovation is championing.

  8. layan

    zhet kuseri wonder how these guys came with such ideas, zhet guys keep the thinking spirit, you showed us higher levels of creativity and innovation. Will play your game over and over again.