CAPE TOWN - SA entrepreneur Shaney Vijendranath, co-founder of analytics startup Momsays and parenting blog You, Baby and I, was selected to join the 2018 cohort of the Collective Global Accelerator (CGA).
What is the Collective Global Accelerator (CGA)?
The Collective Global Accelerator (CGA) is an accelerator programme focused on social entrepreneurs. The CGA is a 4-week programme that brings together entrepreneurs from all over the world at the Collective facility, The Collective Old Oak in London.
These entreprenuers will learn from experts in London how to develop their business, build their brand, increase their impact and become a better entrepreneurs. Ultimately, the goal is to help them tackle challenges in their cities.
When asked about how she was selected, Vijendranath explained that she was required to pitch her ideas and hope for the best.
“We had to go through two rounds of pitching before we were accepted. I am extremely thrilled to be chosen to represent South Africa globally, most importantly I think represent women in tech from Africa,” said Vijendranath.
Vijendranath is the only South African selected for the London-based accelerator but is the one of 2 African entrperenuers.
Malawian Charles Lipenge, founder of Maestros Leadership Team was the second of two Africans chosen for the cohort. Vijendranath has won many awards for her bussiness such as:
Winner of the Kids Emporium Mommy Bloggers Competition 2014
Best Lifestyle Blog 2014 and 2nd Runner-up for Best Parenting Blog at the South African Blog awards
Winner of Mission Samsung 2015 for Samsung South Africa
Winner for Top Advice and Parenting Blog in Africa – African Blogger Awards 2016
Winner of Best Parenting Blog 2016 at the South African Blog Awards
When asked what inspired her to start her business, the pressures of becoming a first-time mom pushed Vijendranath to get her business going.
"I got married at the age of 20 and became a first-time mom at 21-years-old. When I became a mom,I realized that motherhood can become a very lonely journey."
"There isn’t enough support for new moms especially for moms who are trying to filter out the top baby products on the internet. I wanted real advice from real moms. Everyone had their own product essential lists, but no one shared what South African moms were purchasing and why, so I began blogging to connect with other moms in the community".
"After 2 years of blogging I realized that You, Baby and I was more than just a blog. It became of tribe of moms who trusted each other’s opinions. In 2017, I saw an opportunity in the market and launched Momsays – a platform that helps moms build her essential lists of products and helps brands connect more personally to moms", said Vijendranath.
Additionally, Vijendranath had the opportunity to have collaborated with some of the biggest brands such as Mattel, Disney, LG, Volvo, Samsung and Unilever.
Sourcing funding for her business started with the help of family.
" You, Baby and I was bootstrapped by my husband, my family and myself. We just received our first round of funding from Identity FutureFund (Division of IDF Capital)", said Vijendranath.
Vijendranath explains that her biggest challenge has to be multitasking motherhood and her business.
"The biggest challenge besides the money required to build a business has been trying to multi-task being a mom of 3 kids and trying to get my business off the ground. The lack of support for female entrepreneurs in South Africa especially for Mompreneurs (Moms building businesses while raising kids) is shockingly low. It’s been a lonely journey thus far and I am hoping to change that in the future", said Vijendranath.
In the future, Vijendranath sees her business expanding across Africa.
"We definitely want to focus on building and expanding the platform into Africa. One of our goals for Momsays is to create a hub for Mompreneurs in Africa to connect, collaborate and network with each other. Growing a business is hard especially with kids running around, having a tribe that motivates and encourages you is so important. We also want to use AI (Artificial Intelligence) to create a more personalized shopping experience online for consumers", said Vijendranath.
When asked what she'd look forward to the most when heading off to London, Vijendranath showed that she is willing to learn and network.
"Firstly, I’m really looking forward to connecting and networking with the other startups in the program, my mentors and potential investors",
"Secondly, I am excited to learn about the startup culture in the UK and how I can bring that back home and build on what I have", concluded Vijendranath.