Cape Town and Startups by Vance Matthews

by tuftsigl
Aug 31

After finishing up my first month in iXperience, they placed me into Ker & Downey Africa, a travel startup based in Cape Town, South Africa. I’m not new to the world of startups—last summer I interned at a business design company. But interning at a startup in South Africa gave me a new perspective of how diverse startups can be, and how South Africa’s unique culture merges with the Silicon Valley-esque startup culture I’ve grown up around.

One particular aspect of South African startups that differs drastically from California is how young South African startups are. I felt lucky to witness part of a transformation within Cape Town. Investors are backing more and more businesses in the Cape Town region, and many individuals are coming to Cape Town to start a business venture. The CEO of Ker and Downey, for example, was a former corporate lawyer in England before he came to South Africa to head a travel startup.

While working at Ker and Downey, one specific element I found to be interesting was how my work combined all the elements of the company: technology, marketing and consulting. I was able to bridge some the divide between the different departments through my work, and I found that to be rewarding. The projects I worked on included cleaning and standardizing all of their customer data and then building predictive models to analyze the specific factors are most likely to lead to a sale. I also spent some of my time developing a software that can state if a lead is likely to confirm or to be lost. I was able to apply everything I learned during the course I took the month before, and I finally feel like I am an able R programmer.

Coming back to Tufts, I wonder how I am going to apply what I’ve learned here to what I will do at school. I don’t think I will be working for a travel startup anytime soon, but having the experience of working in a multidisciplinary team and programming in R will definitely aid me in my future endeavors.

(Image: Table Mountain near the city of Cape Town in South Africa)

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