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Venture capital

  • SA bitcoin platform Luno closes R120m round led by Balderton Capital

    South African founded bitcoin platform Luno today announced its expansion into 35 new markets across Europe, and a R120-million Series B funding round, led by London-based venture capital firm Balderton Capital. Rand Merchant Investments, through its fintech investment arm, AlphaCode, and existing investors Digital Currency Group also participated in the round. Luno allows users to buy and sell digital currencies. The announcement follows Luno’s R60-million Series A round in 2015, which was led by emerging market tech giant Naspers. While Luno CEO Marcus Swanepoel declined to reveal the exact size of the stake in the company that investors had taken, he said that...

  • Who is Israeli angel investor company behind success of SA’s Zapper?

    In under four years South African mobile payments platform Zapper has grown to operate in 12 markets, employing over 300 people. It sounds like a SA startup success -- but who really owns the Durban-based company? The company, which earlier this month introduced mobile payment starter packs to the market, does not provide information on its website on who its owners are. While a number of media stories have in the past have referred to Zapper Group CEO David de Villiers (pictured above), as the founder of Zapper, the former IT head at Investec bank told Ventureburn that he started the firm in November 2013 with...

  • SA SME Fund is not aimed at venture capital sector, says CEO

    South Africa's R1.5-billion SA SME Fund is not aimed at boosting the country's nascent venture capital (VC) sector, but rather at helping already profitable mid-sized companies to grow and create jobs, says the fund's CEO Quinton Dicks. “It’s not a venture capital fund – it’s not the SA Venture Capital Fund,” said Dicks (pictured above) in a call yesterday with Ventureburn. In the call he revealed that the fund had commenced with screening funding partners and is likely by the end of this year to complete due diligence work on five funds it plans to co-invest with. In a recent interaction with Dicks, tech entrepreneurs voiced their concern...

  • ‘SA Reserve Bank offers no protection for those that take part in ICOs’

    As China's ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs) has lead to renewed concerns over the use of cryptocurrencies, South Africa's Reserve Bank says it offers "no recourse or protection" to consumers involved in ICOs. In response to questions from Ventureburn on whether it is concerned on the legality of ICOs following their banning in China and move to regulate them in the US, the Reserve Bank said in a statement to Ventureburn that it has taken note of regulatory developments surrounding initial coin offerings (ICOs). "In South Africa, cryptocurrencies are not guaranteed by the SARB (SA Reserve Bank), hence offer no recourse or...

  • SA VC firm Knife Capital expands to UK in deal with former rugby star Bob Skinstad

    Venture capital (VC) firm Knife Capital has expanded into London after introducing UK-based Draper-Gain Investments as a strategic investor. It follows Knife Capital's management buyout last week from JSE-listed African Dawn Capital. The London office will accelerate the international growth of companies within Knife Capital’s investment portfolio. Draper-Gain is a family office with significant global resources including existing investments in South Africa. The transaction was facilitated by entrepreneur and angel investor Bob Skinstad (pictured above, right) who is Knife Capital’s partner in KNF Ventures, a SA Revenue Services (Sars) Section 12J VC company. South African 12J schemes were created to promote early stage capital...

  • SA lending platform Prodigy Finance chose London for ‘pro-business regulation’

    Cape Town founder of multi-million dollar lending platform Prodigy Finance Cameron Stevens says the "pro-business" regulation of the UK's Financial Conduct Authority was key in his decision 10 years ago to set up his platform in London 10 years ago. Through the platform Prodigy Finance lends to students globally via an Irish Stock Exchange listed bond. Last month the company announced a R3.19-billion fundraise from venture capital firm Index Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital and AlphaCode and a global investment bank. South Africa has yet to develop regulation on peer-to-peer lending or equity crowdfunding, while the UK has of late been praised for crafting rules that are fair and balanced. Read more: SA founder of Fintech platform...

  • Former Rocket Internet man tells how he cloned firms, from Cape Town to Bangkok

    Cape Town born Tauriq Brown always wanted to be an international businessman. He may claim to be an entrepreneur. But the 28-year-old former Rocket Internet employee is just one of the hundreds employed by massive venture-builder companies to clone and run companies for them. As a venture builder, Brown (pictured middle, above) has been involved in starting and running at least five ventures, on behalf of venture-builder companies Rocket Internet and Mountain Partners, which is headquartered in Switzerland. This has taken him to Nigeria, Vietnam and now to Thailand, where he is employed as managing director for 15-year old Thai lingerie company Kyra Mode. Yet he admits he still draws a...

  • SA startup Pineapple secures R5.2m to take on short-term insurance market

    SA insurtech startup Pineapple has secured R5.2-million in seed funding from Lireas Holdings, the strategic investment arm of Hannover-Re Group Africa, in return for a 25% stake in the business. The startup, which is based in Johannesburg, made the announcement yesterday to Ventureburn. The funding will help the company to bring their innovative insurance offering to market by funding marketing, development and staff costs. Pineapple co-founder and former actuarial science graduate Matthew Elan Smith, 24 (pictured above right, with co-founders developer Ndabenhle Junior Ngulube, 26 and accountant Marnus van Heerden, 26) said he and his fellow co-founders are in the process of signing...

  • SA eating out app Feastfox nets $175 000 from Silicon Valley investors

    Cape Town eating-out app Feastfox today announced that it had successfully closed an angel fundraising round, raising $175,000 (R2.3 million) primarily from Silicon Valley-based angels and venture-capital (VC) firms. A mobile startup out of Stanford University -- with a presence in Silicon Valley, Cape Town and Budapest -- Feastfox claims to allow diners to “book now, eat now”. The funding is from angels and VCs including Co-Creation Capital, Dorm Room Fund and top angel investors such as Larry Kubal, founder and managing partner of Labrador Ventures, a seed stage-focused Silicon Valley venture fund with more than $200-million under management. Feastfox co-founder, Cape Town local, Stuart Murless (pictured above)...

  • You don’t need to be super wealthy high net individual to be an angel investor

    The outlook for the South African economy may be grim. The Reserve Bank forecasts that the economy will grow at just 0.5% this year. Yet the one thing that looks hot right now is the tech startup sector. While the number of investors taking advantage of a new tax incentive has picked up of late, a whole list of SA startups have recently been acquired by foreign companies, bringing healthy returns to investors. Read more: Investors clamouring for 12J VC incentive following tax hike – fund managers Read more: Are these the 10 all-time biggest exit deals for SA startups? And you don't...