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Demo Day has come and gone for African startup accelerator 88mph and the ten startups that completed their intensive three month acceleration programme, capped off with a beautiful Cape Town sunset.
The ten startups that presented on the day began the programme three months ago, and through the process they moulded (some even changed) their ideas into marketable, scalable companies with the hopes of achieving follow-on funding.
Taking the rise of Africa’s mobile market into account, 88mph places its investment focus on startups that leverage mobile and internet growth in Africa and also take advantage of the continent’s growing consumer market potential manifested by rapid urbanisation.
88mph provided each startup with seed-funding to the value of US$25 000, office space and utilities for the three months, as well as mentorship from their “entrepreneurs in residence” in exchange for equity in the young companies. Andy Volk, VP of Develop Relations at Mxit, along with strategist and accountant Chris Steyn were honoured as “mentors of the year” by the accelerator.
The 2013 group is the second batch of startups going through 88mph’s Cape Town programme, and is focused on solving problems unique to Africa.
Let’s meet them.
Peach Payments – an easy payment solution for online and mobile commerce in emerging markets
Funding requested: US$350 000
Essentially a payment gateway and management system for merchants, Peach Payments’ focus is on emerging markets where credit card penetration is low. The company facilitates a variety of payment options, including in-app payments, and provides real-time risk management to merchants. The founders promise to have existing networks in India, Kenya and Nigeria in terms of scalability.
Home Bug – increasing transparency and convenience for Africans monitoring their prepaid electricity meters
Funding requested: US$350 000
Home Bug addresses the high-cost of electricity in South Africa. The Home Bug device monitors electricity usage on pre-paid meters and warns consumers when their units are low directly to their mobile. It wishes to change its business model, giving free devices to consumers and taking commission on electricity bought through the Home Bug website. The new system could reward users electricity rebates and help Eskom notify users during peak times.
Shop Deploy – an end-to-end e-commerce solution for brands and publishers.
Funding requested: US$0
A tough one to explain. Shop Deploy is a “warehouse in the cloud” for ecommerce. It allows websites of many kinds to have their own eshop “without stocking the product”. Once an item is bought, Shop Deploy sources the cheapest supplier and courier service in the area, and dispatches the order… for a commission on the sale (and after an integration and monthly fee). Interestingly, the company is not seeking any funding at the moment, but rather partners, further mentorship and advisers.
MyDoorHandle – low-cost, fast and reliable addresses for emerging markets. Create and share unique GPS-based addresses for any mobile device.
Funding Requested: US$60 000
(Door) Handles are URLs that link to an exact location and are easily shared. Creating “handles” is as simple as using the pin on Google Maps. The company is targeting COD services, from eshops to courier services. Zando and Yum are potentially going to test out the service in the coming weeks. 60% of visitors to the website actively shared “handles” during the testing phase.
The Massive – property management platform
Funding Requested: US$200 000
A platform that enables trustees and owners of apartment blocks to effectively manage their building. Online noticeboards, important documents and tasks are all stored in the cloud under a building’s profile. Working on a subscription model, the company aims to add a searchable local tradesmen listing service in the next two to three months.
Apex Peak – web based short-term funding & invoice finance platform
Funding requested: US$800 000 for 25% equity
Effectively a micro lender, Apex Peak offers a platform for companies to borrow money to pay invoices faster than traditional banks would allow. 80% of the invoice is paid out immediately, and the balance is paid out (less fees) in 30-120 days. The company already has insurance partnerships, as well as network opportunities in Singapore. Most of the requested funding will go to the investment funds (US$560 000).
Adrenaline Hunter – compare and book adventure travel online
Funding Requested: 500 000 Euros
A family business founded by a pair of adrenaline-seeking sisters. Adrenaline Hunter fills the gap left by many outdoor activities being poorly marketed and listed online. The product is a central, searchable directory of various outdoor activities all across the world that users can use to find and book the adventure they desire. Adrenaline Hunter takes a 10% commission on bookings. Its focus is on Europe and emerging markets, looking to expand to France first, from where the sisters originate.
Zapacab – aggregating cabs in Africa to make bookings faster and more reliable
Funding Requested: US$200 000
A more efficient way to connect those needing a ride to their taxi drivers. Users can easily choose a cab on their mobile and the driver is notified directly on a kitted Galaxy Pocket. Drivers get the customer’s phone number while the client can monitor the cab’s progress in real time on their phone. There is a 20% commission charged to the fleet dispatch. The current focus is on locking down the region, and marketing will only go into full drive come January 2014.
Near A Builder – homeowners find reliable builders. Builders find solid leads.
Funding Requested: US$500 000 (US$250 000 already secured)
A clone of successful UK and USA companies. Near A Builder (NAB) connects tradesmen to potential jobs on the NAB platform. Users post jobs on the platform which gets sent to five tradesmen who supply quotes. Users select a tradesman after viewing their “website and blog” and can then provide feedback to ensure quality. NAB charges a sign-up fee of US$110 to tradesmen, a US$55 quarterly fee, as well as a 4% commission on completed jobs.
Wabona – bringing African movies and series to Africa.
Funding Requested: Initial US$150 000 then Series A US$500 000
Catering to the African diaspora, Wabona could potentially become the Netflix of Africa. A video streaming platform with specifically East and Sub-Saharan African content, the company has enjoyed traction due to smart use of its blog. Its got some tough competition from Iroko Partners but also has no plans to expand to music content. Its subscription model charges users US$5.99 per month, and gives 30% of that to content producers. Once bandwidth allows Wabona to cater to the local market, its mobile strategy will look into a different model, such as pay-per-view using data or airtime.
“The three-month program goes by incredibly quickly,” says Kresten Buch, 88mph founder and managing director. “It’s very action-oriented, trial and error. We push teams to get products to market quickly so we can test business models right away and pivot mid-way through if we see a strategy isn’t quite working. It’s the lean startup model.”
Barbara Darchinger, a designer from Germany and one of the Entrepreneurs in Residence, gave Ventureburn a candid look into the relationship between the mentors and the startups:
“Some startups really drove me mad. But I had lots of fun and I enjoyed working with every single one because they are passionate about what they do. You can’t be angry at what they do… because they just do their best.”
Simukayi Mukuna, Director of Services and Operations for Wabona, told Ventureburn after the pitches that 88mph had a motto throughout the experience (borrowing from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back).
“No try not. Do… or do not. There is no try…” You have to be executing. Execute. Execute. Execute. And don’t be afraid to fail.”
88mph now moves on to Nairobi, where it will be launching its third programme in the Kenyan capital in August.
Easy payment solutions for online and mobile commerce in emerging markets. Founders: Andreas Demleitner // Rahul Jain www.peachpayments.com
Increasing transparency and convenience for Africans monitoring their prepaid electricity meters. Founders: Neil Rudden // Colin Rudden // Izak Beirowski // Richard Davies www.homebug.co.za
An end-to-end e-commerce solution for brands and publishers. Founders: Andrew Lynch // Kiril Dobrev www.shopdeploy.com
Low-cost, fast and reliable addresses for emerging markets. Create and share unique GPS-based addresses for any mobile device. Founders: Steven Ellis // Kishan Kalan www.mydoorhandle.com
Property management platform. Founders: Gareth More // Wayne More // Hayley More www.themassive.co.za
Web based short-term funding & invoice finance platform. Founders: Gakim Solomons // John Fearon www.apexpeak.com
Compare and book adventure travel online. Founders: Maud Mathe // Lucile Mathe www.adrenaline-hunter.com
Aggregating cabs in Africa to make bookings faster and more reliable. Founders: Paul Donner // Rupert Sully www.zapacab.com
Near A Builder
Homeowners find reliable builders. Builders find solid leads. Founders: Danny Havenga // Roy Postings www.nearabuilder.co.za
Bringing African movies and series to Africa. Founders: Simbarashe Mabasha // Simukayi Mukuna www.wabona.com