Case Study: Mercedes-Benz South Africa Challenge 2018

The Mercedes- Benz South Africa Innovation Challenge was a chance for startups to validate a business with Mercedes-Benz and/or get into the fast track for a Graduate Development Programme position within the East-London plant.


The Ideas Programme is intended primarily to be for very early-stage businesses and individuals with entrepreneurial ambitions looking to validate their concepts or improve their technology offering to their market. The Mercedes-Benz South Africa Challenge is a unique opportunity to design a value proposition with a potential customer.


Inspired, but don’t have a business idea?


Graduating or just graduated from a recognised university? Innovative by nature and do not have an immediate desire to start a business? Then this challenge gave the opportunity to express interest to work with Mercedes-Benz Sout Africa


*This was not a job application, but merely an indication of interest.


The MBSA Challenge (August – October 2018)


LaunchLab and Mercedes-Benz SA are looking for startup business ideas in multiple focus areas, including but not limited to:

  • Internet of Things (IoT): connected devices means more information to make our lives easier and more efficient. Help Mercedes-Benz with your IoT concepts that can transform their manufacturing plant, supply chains and make their customers’ lives better.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): pitch how you think AI will impact our world with your exciting concept. Calling all engineers and data scientists to wow Mercedes-Benz with your concepts to improve their sales (both new and second hand), maintenance and operations.
  • Advanced Manufacturing: this is another opportunity for engineers and data scientists to make an impact on this important sector in South Africa. Strong candidates and concepts will have access to opportunities with Mercedes-Benz to test and develop their concept to a commercial ready project.


Ideas Programme Impact in 2017 with MBSA:

  • 9 Startups pitched directly to the Mercedes-Benz global Board of Management
  • 4 Pilots were executed with MBSA
  • 3 Startups won R300000 each as part of the pilot
  • 1 Startup (Data Prophet) went to participate in Startup Autobahn in Germany


The Process



We held info sessions at various partner campuses around South Africa to provide context to the opportunities with LaunchLab and our corporate partners. Tshimologong Precinct, University of Pretoria Piazza, East London, Port Elizabeth



Entry into the competition is done by submitting a 3 minute video pitch that you can upload onto our website, send us a link to a video or send it through wetransfer.



After receiving hundreds of entries, we will shortlist 20-40 startups to run through a few weeks of a business development crash course.  During this time entrepreneurs will gain some valuable experience in refining their ideas.

A final list of about 10 ideas will be selected based on the refined idea as a result of this course.

Crash course to be attended online in early November.


Pitching Platform

The finalists will be invited to our Ideas Pitching Platform, where they will get 4 minutes to pitch their business.  Then our judges will have 4 minutes to ask questions of the entrepreneurs. At the end of the evening, the LaunchLab Crew with our judges will select those startups that will join our community and programmes to build towards engaging with our corporate partners.


The Details


LaunchLab will receive pitches in the form of 3-minute videos on our website. This will happen over the course of 7 weeks.

During the pitch, participants must focus on these key points;


  • Problem or need addressed: Provide a brief summary of the business idea.
  • Value Proposition: How do plan to meet that need or solve that problem?
  • Business Model: How do you intend to make money?
  • Market Analysis: Who is the target market and how will you access them?
  • Progress and traction so far: What key milestones and achievements have you made?
  • Future plan: What is your strategy to grow your business?


The Outcomes