Santam, South Africa’s largest general insurer, has announced the founders of an innovative panic device as winners of the 2018 Safety Ideas Campaign.
The MyLifeLine panic device product was created by Anton Swanevelder and Herman Bester, who are residents of Cape Town. The winners walk away with a R200 000 seed funding prize. The Safety Ideas initiative spearheaded by Santam is run in partnership with the Stellenbosch University Launchlab – a mixed-use business incubator whose main aim is to facilitate valuable connections between entrepreneurs and strategic partners, creating the sparks of innovation between these two. The LaunchLab is an initiative of Innovus, Stellenbosch University’s industry interaction and innovation company – the annual competition asks South Africans to compete by sending their best ideas to make SA more secure for everyone.
Bester and Swanevelder created the panic device with GSM and GPS tracking to enable people to receive fast assistance wherever they may be. Affordable and accessible, they’re hoping their product will go a long way to making South African communities feel safer.
Their product is very much in line with Santam’s existing SOS services, which meant they found instant synergy with SA’s largest insurer.
“Santam has helped us hugely along this journey because they already have the SOS services and there’s a lot of synergy between them and us where we can potentially integrate our device with Santam’s business model to assist their policyholders in emergency situations,” Bester said.
He added that they are hoping their win will catapult them as a serious contender in the national and international Internet of Things (IoT) security market. He added that they’re extremely excited and honoured by the recognition and advise other entrepreneurs to seek support from more established businesses.
“My advice is not to give up. If you have a big idea, keep pushing and build connections with the big companies who can help you through the tough times,” he said.
Launched in 2016, the Santam Safety Ideas Campaign encourages South Africans from all walks of life to suggest innovative ways to make South Africa safer. This year, 143 entries were received and rigorously judged by a panel of experts, that included a representative from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The top finalists were all exceptional contenders and completed a comprehensive incubation process that takes a product from concept to prototype and, possibly, to a viable business venture.
Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe, Santam’s Chief Marketing Officer, said that striving for innovation is part of Santam’s DNA. “Safety Ideas are a natural fit to what the brand stands for in helping clients to safeguard what is important to them”.
“In the true spirit of providing insurance good and proper, we’re continuously striving to improve our solutions to ensure the safety of all South African communities. The focus of this challenge is to identify small, medium and macro enterprises that have big ideas that require a bit of guidance and support. It’s by investing in this kind of potential that we can truly change South Africa,” he said.
Nontombi Marule, Director of Innovation and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry also echoed his sentiments.
“There are two aspects to this competition: one is enterprise development: giving people the support and platform to take their ideas further. The other is support for established companies through international market exposure, which could lead to venture capital funding. It’s imperative we provide these opportunities,” she said.
Both Dilotsotlhe and Marule said they’re excited for season three, with Dilotsotlhe hoping to see more innovation in tech-based safety solutions that feature Artificial Intelligence and machine-learning capabilities.
Philip Marais, CEO of the LaunchLab, said: “It was a pleasure working with the MyLifeLine team through our incubation process. They were committed and willing to learn and execute. Watch this space SA! It was also a privilege to work with Santam again for for the second year. We cannot underestimate the opportunities that are created when we bring big business and startups together in this country. We are also looking forward to season three with Santam and encourage SA entrepreneurs to get their safety and insurtech solutions ready.”
Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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