Stellenbosch University IdeaSmash 2019 Winners Announced

Last week the inaugural Stellenbosch University (SU) IdeaSmash final pitching event took place. The SU IdeaSmash is an initiative in collaboration with the Office of Research and Innovation, and the Stellenbosch University Student Representative Council (SRC). We were looking for entries from innovative Stellenbosch University students who are creating businesses that contribute to research, development, and design of new products or improve existing products and services. We encouraged transdisciplinary problem solving and concept development under the broad theme of the fourth Industrial Revolution.


The judging panel was made up of Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice Rector of Stellenbosch University; Prof Mauritz Venter, CEO of Azargen; Dr. Charon Bucher-Marais and Philip Marais, CEO of LaunchLab.  


The winners of the SU IdeaSmash 2019 are:


  • Ellla: A platform that allows the general public to support their favourite waiter, cashier and petrol attendant on a monthly basis with a R25. It’s aimed to redistribute wealth in the most economically divided country in the world and also to empower workers through fantastic service.
  • Sand Castles: Sustainable and affordable sand houses as an alternative to informal settlements.
  • Tjaarge Electric Skateboarding: Offering Affordable and Portable Electric Skateboards for South Africans and beyond. Commute more effectively than a car or bicycle! Take Tjaarge and fly.
  • Textbook Trader: Many university students are unable to even afford second-hand textbooks due to the expensive mark-ups added by bookstores. We are therefore creating a website to facilitate the direct trade of textbooks between students within the same universities to make them more affordable by excluding the middle-man.


Theses winners receive a share of R50 000, a certificate of recognition from the Office of the Vice Rector of Research and Innovation and possible participation in the Venture Cup competition in Copenhagen, Denmark.


The other finalists pitching were:


  • HypeWire: Location based social media platform for events which allows people who are unsure about entertainment plans, or visiting new areas to find the best venues and events in these areas, buy tickets for these events and expand their night out to new limits.
  • Farmers Connect: A service to connect farmers and consumers directly which is an app where fresh products can be ordered or made available, as well as the logistics involved to transport the fresh products from the farmer to the consumer.
  • Sick Socks: An online store that sells socks which aims to provide convenience, education and a sense of fair choice to consumers where we teach our customers about how they should wear the socks that they buy from us and give them an objective and standardized review about every pair of socks available on our store. The beauty of our concept is that we believe it can be implemented in every aspect of online clothing shopping, not just socks. And if done right, we could change the industry of online fashion shopping.
  • IoT CCTV: A camera solution performing real-time analytics on a live feed.
  • Futurefy: Molecule can be synthetically designed to fit to be analogous to faulty molecules that we may have in our bodies that could lead to cancer. Using Machine Learning we can speed up property and structure prediction to make computational molecular discovery viable.
  • Troll-E: Automated shopping trolley system to address the inefficiencies of the retail sector by improving inventory management and enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Team Mahli: Mitigating the negative social and ecological externalities caused by rapid urbanization in Africa. We hope to resolve challenges by building a net-zero energy house suited for an African context. One based on green architecture and engineering principles, ecologically friendly/recyclable/ local materials, solar panels and smart plumbing systems.
  • Flex: An app used to hire personal trainers and get weekly routines. The personal trainers create weekly routines where you can track your exercises and see your progress. One-on-one sessions aren’t required which reduces the price of a personal trainer.
  • Indla Nathi: Bringing together users in an area with a similar budget to collaborate in making nutritional meals with less overall effort. It connects the people, administrates the resource pool and provides possible recipes for the group to use. This ultimately saves each of the people time and money while providing them with a nutritional and quality meal. The platform can also be expanded to allow users to earn money by advertising their own meals and allowing other users to book these meals.
  • Recroot: An online platform aimed at graduates in the auditing and legal departments finding articles or training contracts at small and medium-sized firms using an Artificial Intelligence interface. The online system will be used to advertise positions, conduct interviews, and upload documents for both the applicant and the small and medium-sized firm.


Last year, 80 Stellenbosch University student teams made of 200 students registered to take part in the SU IdeaSmash 2018. Six of the ten finalists are currently going through incubation program at the LaunchLab. Two of the previous year’s winners shared their journeys since winning the challenge.


Henk van der Merve from LekkeFresh and Sihle Tabete from EnviroSync explained how LaunchLab is an important connection for students passionate about entrepreneurship. LaunchLab helped them with an alternative route where they have kicked off their businesses in a full-time capacity, rather than working for someone else after graduating. The LaunchLab programmes are an opportunity for students for networking, aiding personal development and finding purpose in wanting to pursue a business.


From July 2019, we will be taking the winners through our Build programme where we lead them to design a value proposition. We look forward to working with this year’s winners to further their business plans and concept development.