TED Walks Too, Chooses South African Firm For First-Ever Startup Investment

TED Walks Too, Chooses South African Firm For First-Ever Startup Investment

Turns out that TED, which brings the world talks led by geniuses with ideas worth spreading, is now investing in one of them.

TED has chosen to invest in Eduze, a South African media content company that provides free online content through a tiny, Wi-Fi-equipped box called Clox — Cloud in a Box — that transmits content to people’s devices.

Eduze says it’s committed to bringing new ideas to an under-served population and it just got the ultimate endorsement, TechInsider reported.

Frustrated by the slow data speeds and high costs of African connectivity, Eduze set out to develop a Wi-Fi- based technology that allows users to browse, stream and download digital content to a mobile device with no waiting, no buffering and no data charge, according to a press release.

“Eduze has pioneered something extraordinary thanks to its technology,” said Deron Triff, TED’s head of media distribution, in a prepared statement. “For the first time, entire swaths of the global population will have the ability to connect and explore, to discover and learn. It’s exactly this kind of breakthrough in connectivity we seek in our  work to spread ideas to the far corners of the world.”

Eduze is launching across South Africa, with plans to launch in Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia,  VentureBurn reported.

Pilots programs were done on Amogaleng buses, at Tshwane University of Technology, Maboneng Precinct and more. With a focus on both education and entertainment content, the company is now launching in schools.

The Eduze device can be installed in hyperlocal areas like the neighborhood football field or public areas such as taxis, buses, trains and airplanes, according to VentureBurn. A high definition film can be downloaded in three minutes, and an album in one minute.

The company’s goal is to provide all Africans equal access to free, relevant, reliable and uplifting content that entertains, educates and informs. This includes curated TED talks. That jives with TED, whose own mission is “ideas worth spreading.”

“We share TED’s vision — to provide users a digital experience that is compelling, meaningful and accessible,” said Eduze Managing Director Charlie Beuthin. “Libraries offer cost- and risk-free books. We hope to do the same with digital content. We aim to offer African content producers an innovative and commercially viable new distribution channel. Our first pilots are underway.”

Eduze says it will have content for all school subjects with a focus on math and science. It offers schools access to relevant movies, music, animated series and more as part of its English immersion language acquisition program.

“We want to speak to learners in a fresh and inspirational way,” Beuthin said in a prepared statement. “It’s about a compelling content offering, provided in a convenient, affordable, fun manner that feeds from a student’s natural curiosity.”

Eduze’s partnership with TED has allowed it to meet with “top execs in education, movie and TV studios in the U.S. and U.K.,” Beuthin said, according to a TechInsider report.

The challenge in getting to these people is a technological one.

Not everyone will have a device that allows Internet connection — or know how to access the Wi-Fi-enabled content, Beuthin said. However, early trials without marketing or training showed an average of 12 users per station per day, with 11 minutes of engagement.

“That may not sound considerable but that is more than we need for our model to work at scale,” Beuthin said, according to TechInsider. “We’ve had some truly unique challenges, but such is startup life in Africa. The challenges are often what make our opportunity.”

There are at least 5,000 public places in South Africa where Clox could work, Eduze said.

Eduze envisions itself transitioning from startup to the world’s leading digital media company for emerging markets, Beuthin said, according to a Demo Africa report.