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Renting startup Ekaya has been timid since we last caught up with CEO Justin Melville in July. This doesn’t mean that it’s just been sitting around, fiddling it’s thumbs. Quite the contrary, as it announces today, the tech startup from Cape Town has in the last few months swayed a handful of Angel investors (both locally and internationally), added a bunch of new features to its product, and is now in open beta for everyone in the Mother City.
For those not in the know, Ekaya has developed a platform where you can list, find and rent a place from your phone and on the web. Landlords are then able to advertise, vett and collect rent among other things.
Ekaya raised a total Angel Round of R1.4-million. The new crop of Angels, Justin Stanford, Daniel Guasco, Wayne Gosling, Sebastian Stoddart and Guilherme Steinbruch, join Mark Heerden and the 88mph Seed Fund as investors.
“These are the kinds of startups we want to see, as angel investors, coming out of the Silicon Cape ecosystem — solving real problems and making peoples lives better with elegant technology solutions,” says Stanford who’s also the founder of 4Di Capital.
Melville tells Ventureburn that Net Prophet’s SparkupLive event helped a lot getting Ekaya into the spotlight and renowned investors’ sights. Interestingly, Melville also managed to leverage the international startup platform, AngelList, in order to get the experienced South American Angel investor, Steinbruch, on board.
Melville elaborates on the significance of this recent round of investment:
“We could hardly be more excited about the level of investment we’ve been able to attract to Ekaya. Not only is this a sizable Angel Round, but all of the individuals involved are highly successful tech entrepreneurs and leading early stage investors with global networks. Their support is game-changing for a little startup like ours.”
The new cash injection will give Ekaya the resources and network required to continue development, enter the South African market and prepare for international expansion over the next 12 months.
“Ekaya are an incredible team with a unique vision that we feel will define the next era of property renting not only in SA but around the globe,” explains Gosling who is also one of the former CEOs of Groupon South Africa.
In terms of the product, Ekaya added a couple of nifty features to its rental platform. This includes the Ekaya Profiles (the Ekaya Card) which lets tenants attach a snapshot of themselves when they connect with landlords. Landlords then can see and make offers based upon the quality of the incoming interest.
“Ekaya users can expect a smarter application and viewing process, simple and transparent rental payments and a revolutionary new way of handling the security deposit,” says Melville.
Asked about why Ekaya’s been quiet in the last few months, Melville explains that he and his team have been busy laying the soil and find the roots in order to grow something meaningful.
Melville also hopes to further share Ekaya’s journey going forward for other companies to benefit from.
“The Silicon Cape startup ecosystem has come a long way and matured to the point where ambitious entrepreneurs like us finally have the fertile soil we need to design, build and grow technology businesses for the global stage. I’m looking forward to the public reaction to our work as we continue to make the business of renting better.”
South Africa’s startup ecosystem has been a hot topic as of late. Melville tells Ventureburn that he hopes to “take the opportunities given to Ekaya, and make them replicable.” He believes there’s huge potential locally, and that the recipe just needs to be uncovered and shared.
With over 1 000 estate listings in Cape Town so far, it’s said to launch in Johannesburg and Durban within the next few months. Watch this space.
Update: The article was edited to include quotes from recent investors Wayne Gosling and Justin Stanford.