Additional reporting by Jacques Coetzee
This is interesting. AngelHub Ventures, the angel investment company backed by money from ex FNB head-honcho Michael Jordaan and the Harris family (RMB co-founder, Paul Harris’ family fund), has invested an undisclosed sum of money in e-book aggregation startup Snapplify.
The funding round, which also sees Jordaan joining the Snapplify board, will be used to accelerate Snapplify’s growth and to expand the product and team across multiple countries and acquire new users.
“We believe that Snapplify can make a huge difference for accessibility to content and eBooks in the African market especially within education. Challenges such as textbook delivery problems, lack of internet infrastructure and other barriers can easily be resolved by a digital solution,” says Snapplify CEO Wesley Lynch. “These are the pressing problems that our team want to solve. Getting books from the world’s leading publishers into the hands of all South African students is currently our main priority”.
Since launching in 2011, Snapplify has won a number of competitions both locally and abroad, including in the Tech Innovation category at the Future Book Awards for Snappbox, its ebook distribution hub.
The technology, which is targeted specifically at schools and universities, enables users to access digital reading material via their intranet as opposed to downloading individually via the internet.
This is especially useful in institutions where broadband is patchy, or needs to be conserved.
According to Jordaan, “Snapplify is ideally positioned to surf the wave of digitisation that is sweeping across and irrevocably changing the old print sector. In the content and media industry the survivors will be those players who see digitisation as an opportunity to reach a much wider audience rather than an existential threat to the status quo.”
Snapplify, he says, “can grow electronic distribution massively while protecting digital rights and ensuring that there are incentives for the creation of intellectual property. It’s a win-win business model.”
Some of the publishers already signed with Snapplify include Penguin Random House, Pearson, Oxford and Cambridge.
It’s interesting that AngelHub Ventures is only investing in Snapplify now, given that both have been active within the wider South African startup space, even more so when you consider that both share Cape Town as a base.
That said, Lynch was involved with AngelHub prior to its acquisition and rebranding. He is also a friend and associate of AngelHub co-founder and lead partner Brett Comaille, who spent a year as chairman of Snapplify’s board.
AngelHub Ventures was one of the first formal Angel Investment networks to launch in South Africa and has a reputation for investing in some of South Africa’s cooler startups. In addition to identifying startups, it also works with the management of deal flow, technical due diligence and investment committees.
Update: We’ve updated the article to include Lynch’s comments to Ventureburn below.
Lynch did tell Ventureburn that the deal has actually been in the making for a long time now and that both parties have been waiting for the right time.
“It’s not just about the money,” Lynch tells us. “Jordaan has great networks and influence. Just thinking about some of the work FNB did in India, he can really help take Snapplify into new markets. Having Jordaan on board will help establish ourselves as a global or pan-African player.”
As Snapplify continues to expand its product to Brazil, Argentina, Kenya and Nigeria, Lynch says that the company is increasingly looking at payments and remittances to better distribute its product:
What a lot of people don’t know is that we’re not just about digital content. We have more tech around the funds and finances than the actual digital products. Snapplify is managing a lot of money which is where Jordaan’s expertise can really come in hand.
Lynch also tells us that the recent investment will help Snapplify form crucial partnerships, and if not, help acquire important players in the industry. “As these markets mature, there is an increase in mobile access and middle class. We’re really seeing a lot of potential in these markets.”