Microtraction: Trusting the entrepreneur, the idea and the market in good faith and helping raise $10m in follow-on

Microtraction, could be called the stepping stone into getting into YCombinator (Silicon Valley-based Startup investor) seed investor base on their track record. Most startups they invested in have been able to get into YC. In this Chat with Dayo Koleowo, the partner, we asked about their thinking when it comes to writing the first checks for entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

Below is the interview;

VentureHunt: What’s the link between YC and Microtraction? Do you hold special classes for your startups to be able to make it through YC?

Dayo Koleowo: Our relationship with YC is pretty informal, we do not have any official relationship. What has really worked for us is that we understand the ethos of YC as well as understand the local market. YC doesn’t have the exposure to the African market because they are not on the ground like us and other micro VCs on the continent. However, because our criteria are similar and we look out for the same things when making investments despite being in different locations, the chances become a little higher for our portfolio companies to get in. 

We do not hold special classes for our startups. What we simply do is go through their applications and help them review it. We also connect them to YC founders who can help them prepare for the video interview if they do get to that stage.

VH:What’s the success rate of the startup’s post-pre-seed in raising additional funds?

DK: 100%. All our companies have raised follow-on funding after our initial investment. They have all raised a sum total of about $10m.

VH: Market dynamics; based on recent investments, MT has invested a lot in Fintech, how much attention is given to other sectors? Do you actively pursue deal flows from other sectors?

DK: It is important to note that we are sector agnostic despite the investments in a couple of fintech startups. One of the most important things for us is the quality of the founders and these founders have generally focused on providing fintech solutions. In general, from an overall economic development perspective, regions like West Africa, and some other parts of Africa are still developing their capital market. Some of the basic and of course important problems such as consumer-level payments, credit, etc. are still being solved for. 

The flow of money is very critical to the economic development of the continent. So what tends to happen is that founders and companies decide to solve a problem but find out that their scalability is linked to the flow of money. When financial problems are solved it then becomes the foundation for other things to be built on top of. Classic example – imagine Nigeria without Paystack & Flutterwave, some companies will never have been started.

In summary, the same attention is given to all sectors. We will support and back founders who are solving the biggest challenges on the continent, regardless of the sector.

VH: Your portfolio has proven true to your mantra of a solid technical co-founder as part of the founding team; how flexible are you these days if the idea is awesome but the founders are not technical, do you invest still and ask them to figure out the technical bit?

DK: It is very difficult to build something without some level of expertise. We are in the business of tech. Any team building a tech business or tech-enabled business has to have some level of technical expertise. It is not just about what our criteria is, it is also about ensuring you don’t outsource your tech development. As a previous founder, I understand how expensive and time consuming it is to outsource your tech development. 

So for us, having 2 – 3 people in the team with a technical founder is always a winning combo. If we come across a great idea with no technical founder, we will only invest if the non-technical founder is willing to have a co-founder down the line. There are exceptions but we like to stick to our mantra.

VH: We have gone through your portfolio, you currently have like 9 startups, are there any others you want to share?

DK: None at the moment.

VH: Logistic is going haywire across the market, what your view and is it something you are looking at?

DK: We are always looking at different sectors. The logistics/transportation industry is a very interesting one and similar to the way fintech is being approached. Moving people or goods around is still difficult and if solved for it will open up interesting ideas that founders can build on top of that. Definitely a space we are keeping an eye on.

VH: There seem to be lower than average activities on the seed side in the country, what’s your view around this?

DK: There will not be enough seed activity if the pre-seed activity is not vibrant. We need more folks to bet on very early-stage startups for the seed activity to pick up. After all, it is the pre-seed startups that stand a chance to become seed startups. That is why we are focused on this very important stage of the venture chain. 

VH: What are your expectations generally about the Nigerian and Africa tech ecosystem?

DK: My expectation is to see a vibrant and successful Nigerian and African tech ecosystem where problems are being solved and the economic development is rapidly growing. This can only be achieved through the stakeholders – entrepreneurs, founders, investors, service providers, etc. We have to work together, educate each other, and build an ecosystem that will outlast us. 

If you are an entrepreneur building awesome stuff, why not sign up on Microtraction to get your ideas funded? Click here to get started.

Breaking News: Andela is Sacking 400 developers in Africa, declares $50m in revenue

Andela’s is one of Africa’s best place to work, helping global companies hire developers across Africa remotely thereby saving them a lot of overhead and providing opportunities to Africa Developers.

Today, it releases news that it will be letting go of 400 junior developers in Africa as part of its restructuring efforts. The CEO, Jeremy Johnson said they have hired more developers than they can find jobs for, hence the need to cut and focus more on mid-senior developers.

Andela has raised more than $180m in funding since launched in 2014; the CEO mentioned that as a startup, they have generated more than $50m in revenue, showing good sign of demand for its service in the global market.

What happened to these junior devs?

Andela is known to be employee-friendly, with good working condition, good salaries, and perks; one wonders why junior developers failed to live of up expectation given the great opportunities provided by the company.

How will this impact the ecosystem?

It’s good news for everyone but the staffs being let go. For one, more developers will be available for hire for the growing startups. The big question now is, can the startup able to match Andela’s pay and will the developers be willing to take on local opportunities with lesser pay? If I was in their shoes I will take up the job because it becomes an opportunity to improve their skills and be ready for future opportunities.

Is this the end of Coding Bootcamps?

Since the launch of Andela, countless companies have modeled their structure to try to take advantage of the global demand for developers. With young graduates getting picked to join coding boot camps with a promise of a job after training. We will expect this to be a shock to the companies with high hopes of making money from this model.

Fairmoney Nigeria’s Fintech Startup Raised $12.5m in Series A Funding

Fintech just can’t stop raising money. The Firm launched in Nigeria last year with a local team and France-based engineering and product teams. Yesterday announced the raising of $12.5m, Led by Flourish, a venture of The Omidyar Group, the partners of DST Global, and existing seed investors Newfund, Speedinvest, and Le Studio VC.

Fairmoney is a microloan startup with a focus on the emerging market. Started as a mobile phone-based loan company, it has expanded to microloan to small businesses. Its goal with the new funding is to become a digital bank just like Kuda, which raised $1.6m seed last.

Back in May 2018, it raised $1.4m in seed and has gone on to grow to 200,000 customers.

The new funding will be used to scale up the engineering team and expand beyond Nigeria.

Big Question

Given that the engineering team is based in France, will the new funding help hire local devs and product team to help in further tailoring the product to the local markets they will be expanding to?

 

Breaking News: Nigeria’s online-only bank startup raised $1.6m Pre-seed

 Just when you think that Fintech-fever is over in Nigeria, out of nowhere comes Kuda, the fintech startup who prides itself as a bank without a single branch raised $1.6m in pre-seed. Founded just a year ago by Babs Ogundeyi, Kuda has racked up so much growth that investors decided to splash the cash on it.

What makes Kuda different from other Fintech Startups, in his world, Babs Ogundeyi said “Kuda is the first digital-only bank in Nigeria with a standalone license. We’re not a mobile wallet or simply a mobile app piggybacking on an existing bank, We have built our own full-stack banking software from scratch. We can also take deposits and connect directly to the switch,” Ogundeyi added, referring to Nigeria’s Central Switch ”

It’s amazing seeing freshly minted startup raise so much as pre-seed, I can imagine how out-of-the-roof the numbers must be. The funding was led by  Haresh Aswani , along with Ragnar Meitern.

Why does it matter

Many Fintech before it mostly piggybank on existing banks and exist just like wallet service but Kuda has been given a license and its strategy is to operate strictly like a bank. Sign up, verify your identity, get your bank account number and start banking.

It also has a relationship with 3 (GTbank, Access, and Zenith)of the top ten banks in Nigeria where you are able to walk, make deposit or withdrawal without charges. This essentially turns it into Nigeria’s bank with the widest reach. According to the story, the banks are not investors but partners. This is unlike other partnership we have seen banks in recent times where they own equity in startups where they have deep integration.

The startup plans to use the fund to scale up its team and execute more on it’s the strategy. With offices in Lagos, South Africa and London!

Jumia is looking to deal with fraud and loses, jumps into the ring with Paylater, RenMoney to start giving out loans

It’s no secret that Jumia is struggling to turn a profit; this was apparent during its last earnings call. Since its launch, it has burnt through more than a Billion dollars in a bid to dominate e-commerce in Africa.

JumiaPay, the payment arm of the company, which has been growing over the years, looks like a good candidate and channel for growth. During the earnings call, the CEO mentioned that it will be spun-off as an independent firm to enable it to take advantage of the growing Fintech sector across Africa. They recently posted on their website looking for a loan officer to join the payment team. This product will help give loan to the merchant in its marketplace to enable them to increase inventory and improve sales. The consequence of this is that they will have improved revenue in the coming quarters.

According to the job post;

“Our loan officer will assist in the development of Jumia Lending in Kenya by presenting our solution to our sellers. He/she will be helping our sellers to apply for a loan, and with the help of the loan officer will review the data collected and the applications. The loan officer will be part of the JumiaPay team in Kenya and work side by side with the loan officer,”

The candidate will work from Kenya, which has a more evolved Fintech than other areas in Africa. It will be a testbed for other Fintech products the company will launch in the nearest future.

What does this mean for the space?

Fintech is growing aggressively across Africa, Nigeria and Kenya are the hottest spots for the sector. From Paylater, to RenMoney, Branch and other loan platforms, the fight just got bigger. This product should be an easier sell than others, given that the company has live data about the customers’ sales numbers from the platform this should help them accurately predict revenue and the merchant’s ability to pay back.

Stanbic IBTC Welcomes Students Back to School with New Educational Payment Products

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new school year started this month, and Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, a member of Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC, has introduced a suite of user-friendly educational payment products that will relive parents and guardians of the burden of school fees.
The question now is, how do these educational payment solutions work?

Stanbic IBTC Holdings PLC is a Nigerian financial institution with eight subsidiaries and an estimated staff strength of 5,000 Nigerians. Furthermore, 80% of the Stanbic IBTC board members are Nigerian.

With this Nigerian-based perspective, the bank recognises the cultural nuances in Nigeria, and has thus specifically modelled these products to be a relief.

The first of the solutions is the EZ cash loan/advance. Parents and wards who are strapped for cash at the point when school fees payment are due, can take advantage of the EZ cash loan, which gives access to loans, in less than a minute, to pre-approved customers.

If you are a salary earner, you can take advantage of Salary Advance (SALAD), another of the bank’s short-term loans that is quick and easy to get.

Another of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC’s educational products is an international money transfer solution for payment of school fees and allowances abroad.

Added to that are prepaid cards which can be preloaded with pocket money for children/wards, while the credit cards, which currently offer a 55-day interest moratorium, can be used to seamlessly pay school fees.

Dr. Demola Sogunle, the Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Bank PLC, said that the bank has a high-importance view of learning, and in accordance with this, it develops solutions that parents and guardians can take advantage of to ensure that their wards get the desired level of education.

He identified a deep understanding of Nigeria and developing tailor-made solutions as factors that distinguishes Stanbic IBTC Bank as a leading Nigerian financial institution.

Speaking on this, he said, “We are a Nigerian bank and we realise that whilst parents and guardians may have desired levels of education for their children, funding may be a deterrent in the pursuit of these dreams. We have hence developed these products which will ease the burden of school fees payment while also providing satisfaction to the parents and guardians that their wards are getting good education.

He added that the bank’s loan products offer fast, simple and convenient ways by which customers can meet their short term financial obligations to educate their wards, with very convenient repayment terms.

Other benefits of the school fees loans are: access to a revolving line of credit, flexible repayment terms, and the opportunity to access credit up to 100% of the customer’s income.

With schools resuming for a new term, the school fees loans will help to alleviate the financial burden parents and guardians may face in paying school fees. He further stated that the conditions for accessing the loan products are having a salary account with the bank; or having  investments with any of the Stanbic IBTC group subsidiaries.

Loan applicants can walk into any branch of the bank and apply for any of the education loans in a few easy steps. The application is then processed and the customer is contacted with feedback.

 

 

ABAN and AfriLabs Partner to Launch Catalyst, an African Matching Fund

The African Business Angel Network (ABAN) has partnered with Afrilabs, a pan-African network of technology and innovation centres to launch Catalyst, a cross-stakeholder initiative aimed at increasing the pool of capital available to promising African growth-stage entrepreneurs, and also support the startup ecosystem including hubs and angel network.

AfriLabs is a network organization of 158 innovation centers across 45 African countries. It supports hubs to raise successful entrepreneurs that will create jobs and develop innovative solutions to African problems. The objectives of this organization are to encourage technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in all forms, and to promote the creation of African-made technology, among others.

ABAN is the largest network of Angel investors in Africa with a goal of dramatically growing the number of investors who support and fund promising African entrepreneurs. Founded in early 2015,  ABAN is a Pan-African non-profit association that supports the development of early-stage invest networks across the continent.

This partnership is in line with the objectives of both organisations, as Catalyst is a co-investment fund that will match investments made by registered angel investors with institutional funds.

Funds are being raised from various institutional partners to add to the pool, which aims to encourage investment in viable startups by verified angel investors.

The first Catalyst co-investment fund will be available towards the end of 2019. Funds from Catalyst will be released after startups have received investments from angel investors that are part of an angel network registered with ABAN. To be eligible, startups are required to register on the Catalyst platform through hubs that are members of the AfriLabs network.

Speaking on this, Tomi Davies, the President of ABAN said, “When we signed the MOU with AfriLabs at their Annual Gathering in Dar es Salam in 2018, we were excited about the opportunity for partnership between angels and hubs on the continent. Catalyst will facilitate the development of those relationships as the first initiative of what we expect to be a highly valuable and long lasting collaboration between AfriLabs and ABAN.

Catalyst is the first pan-African programme of its type, and commenting on this, AfriLabs board chair Rebecca Enonchong said, it is a “real gamechanger” for Africans.

We have all recognised the need to increase early stage funding for our African founders. Catalyst not only does that, but it helps to structure the ecosystem, supports collaboration, and provides actionable insights into the early-stage funding landscape, all the while strengthening our hubs and our angel networks,” she further said.

CampsBay Magazine to Hold the Africa Digital Sports Conference in Lagos

The sports industry is evolving and developing in the tech space as the Africa Digital Sports Conference (ADScon2019) sets to hold in Lagos on September 20 &21 at the Four Points by Sheraton, Victoria Island.

ADScon2019 is organised by Campsbay Media, a Lagos-based specialist sports communication, and media company, in collaboration with The Guardian.

An initiative of CampsBay Media, the Africa Digital Sports Conference (ADSCon) is specifically created to help develop and enhance the fortunes of African sport businesses through digital media technology.

The event is to bring together leaders of the industry to discuss new opportunities for sports in a digital era in a first-of-its-kind sports event in Lagos. The focus is on discussing how Africa can benefit from the opportunities presented in this digital era, as sports media, fan engagement and sponsorship landscape changes with digital platforms

Themed “Monetising Sports in a Digital Era”, this West Africa’s biggest sports business event will host federation chiefs, organisations and brands actively involved in sports development and sponsorship, media executives, content creators, telecommunication executives, right owners, app developers, internet service providers and sports tech startup.

It will welcome Paul Rogers, Head of Strategy at Serie A club AS Roma; Mario Leo of RESULT Sports, Germany; Emeka Enyadike of Digital Sports Africa & Seun Methowe of DAZN as lead speakers. Sports Digital Conference 2019 will bring together the leaders of the industry to discuss new opportunities for sports in a digital era in a first of its kind sports industry event in Lagos.

Speaking on this, the Chief strategist at CampsBayMedia and convener of the Africa Digital SportsConference, Lolade Adewuyi, said “Sport businesses in developed climes are already mining the opportunities that abound in using digital platforms to reach their fans directly while increasing revenue. At CampsBay Media, we believe African businesses can do the same. The Africa DigitalSports Conference will help sports businesses and organisations understand how to take advantage of available digital opportunities for growth.

Lolade Nwanze, Head of Operations at Guardian Digital, speaking on the collaboration with The Guardian, said, “To not recognize the power and possibilities available with digital media is to deny oneself of a place in the future. the Guardian, we are championing this transformation throughout Africa and continue to support vehicles like the ADSCon, which can bring tangible change to the whole sports economy of the continent.

The ADScon2019 two-day event will feature panel discussions, masterclasses, interviews, and exhibitions. Discussions will range from trends such as new digital sports tech companies competing for sports rights with traditional broadcasters, the growth of over-the-top (OTT) technologies helping sports rights owners reach their fans directly and the growth of digital technologies creating a multi-billion dollar media and entertainment industry.

Registration is currently ongoing at the African Digital Sports Conference site. 

 

Two Nigerian Startups Win the Champions of Science Africa Innovation Challenge, with Four Other African Startups

The healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson, has announced that the two Nigerian startups, LifeBank and Crib A’Glow, as part of the six winning African businesses of the Champions of Science Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 at the 28th World Economic Forum (WEF) which held in Cape Town, South Africa.

The Champions of Science Africa Innovation Challenge is supported by Johnson & Johnson to encourage entrepreneurial thinking in Africa and the creation of healthcare solutions that address the critical unmet needs of the continent. The company, through the challenge, helps to bring the startups’ ideas to life and create meaningful change with long-term sustainability.

The Challenge received nearly 900 submissions from 39 countries, and the winning businesses and programs represent outstanding ingenuity and perseverance, as well as a pathway for scaling operations for long-term sustainability.

They offer bold, entrepreneurial approaches to tackling major healthcare priorities in African communities, including Blood Delivery, Healthcare Worker Burnout, Hearing Loss, Jaundice, Malaria and Ultrasound Access.

Johnson & Johnson announced a $300,000 investment in these six startups. The startups are

  • LifeBank (Nigeria) _ Blood Delivery
  • The Hope Initiative (Rwanda) _ Healthcare Worker Burnout
  • Dreet (Botswana) _ Hearing Loss
  • Crib A’Glow (Nigeria) _ Jaundice
  • Uganics (Uganda) _ Malaria
  • MScan (Uganda) _ Ultrasound

Along with the $300,000 award, the startups will receive extensive mentoring and connection network building, to support the expansion and sustainability of the companies and programs.

The Chief Scientific Officer and Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee, Johnson & Johnson, Dr Paul Stoffels, said, “We look forward to collaborating with and investing in them as they work to create sustainable businesses and programs that offer strong benefits to patients, families, healthcare workers and communities in markets across Africa and beyond

The Head of Africa, WEF, Elsie Kanza further commented, saying, “The World Economic Forum is excited to partner in announcing the winners of the Africa Innovation Challenge 2.0 at this year’s congress, which is focused on Innovation, Cooperation, Growth and Stability, critical areas that the challenge embodies,

Each of the six winners brings a passion for innovation, a bold sense of purpose and a commitment to the future of their communities and the larger continent. By participation in our meeting, we hope that they will be able to gain knowledge, ideas and connections to help them take their business to the next level as well as inspire leaders to encourage and support future generations of innovators.

The startups will each receive a yearlong mentorship and training in addition to $50,000 USD.