Port Elizabeth start-up Millbug has been invited on a one-month trip to visit Silicon Valley.
A client of Seda Nelson Mandela Bay ICT Incubator (SNII) in Port Elizabeth, Millbug members – Sabelo Sibanda and Thulisile Volwana – also founded another company, Tuse, along with Michael Kyazze.
Shortly after the launch of Tuse’s public beta version of the Tuse application on the Google Play store, they were invited to join Founders Space in Silicon Valley.
Sibanda hails from Port Elizabeth, while Volwana is from Engcobo in the Transkei and Kyazze is from Uganda.
Sibanda and Volwana both studied commerce at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, while Kyazze studied computer science at the same varsity.
The three met through a mutual friend about three years ago.
“Founders Space is one of the top 10 start-up accelerators in Silicon Valley, according to Forbes magazine. During the course of the programme, we will interact with corporates, angel investors and the top venture capitalists in Silicon Valley to hopefully take our offerings to the entire world,” says Sibanda.
The Tuse application, which launched earlier last year, is an Android app that allows people to communicate freely without the need for traditional telecommunication infrastructure. The app allows a user’s mobile device to become a node in a wireless mesh network. On this wireless mesh network, users may send free messages, free calls or transfer files to other peers for free.
“The Tuse app had a public beta launch and the feedback the company received from more than 250 beta testers has helped us design the final product that was released in late-December last year. An iOS version of the Tuse app is also being developed and will be available in February,” says Sibanda.
“We hope our stay at Silicon Valley will help us build a large network of partners and experts who can help Millbug rapidly deploy our innovations. The problems we are solving are unique and will need significant resources to deploy at scale,” Sibanda adds.
Millbug developed the solar-powered Vuya Tablet PC in 2013. After joining SNII three years ago, Millbug today still benefits from the incubator’s expertise.
“SNII have been of great assistance in getting the device [Vuya Tablet] tested and certified for sale in compliance with South African law,” Sibanda points out.
The tablet uses WiFi only for connectivity and takes at least eight hours to charge.
Apart from developing the Vuya Tablet and the Tuse app, solutions have also been designed for various clients from Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Ghana, Nigeria and the UK.
Millbug’s goal is, according to Sibanda, to “always bring happiness to people who need it the most. Altruistic as it sounds, this implies solutions ubiquity in our chosen field.”
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