Behind AlphaCode: a catchup with the financial services club

Ventureburn recently caught up with the head of marketing and operations for AlphaCode, Paige Robertson, at their latest roundtable. Since being named one of the top 11 co-working spaces globally, they’ve also increased their memberships, constantly bringing in new businesses.

At AlphaCode’s recent roundtable discussion, it was all about taking your business to Silicon Valley. “Many of our CT businesses are more mature and further developed than our Johannesburg-based businesses and so we try and curate the content for our events based on the people attending,” said Robertson.

Philip Joubert, co-founder of Offer Zen was one of the members in attendance who spoke of his account launching a business in the states. He described to us how he thought he completely failed a pitching session to investors once they grilled him about facts and figures that he admittedly didn’t know. He was later pleasantly surprised when he got a call back from investors telling him they wanted to invest.

“This was a topic expressed by our members and we decided it was a valuable exercise to debunk some of the myths around the US and present some of the realities that our members have experienced during their time there,” Robertson said.

Listening  to the success other businesses found overseas, it was inspiring to know that our ventures have the capability of hitting international markets with force. “We also received some feedback from a member for some content that we can create in the sense of “What’s Normal” for startups,” said Robertson.

“We’re hoping to create some content around what is common for all entrepreneurs, how to understand term sheets, how to explain equity, so basically a central point that entrepreneurs in the fintech space can come to and read to find out if what they are going through is “normal,” she continued. “We will be giving some thought around this as it seemed to be something the guys really needed,” she added.

AlphaCode will be celebrating one year of operation in September of this year. “We will be hosting an event at our space in Jhb, date still TBC.  We will hopefully be getting Dov Girnun, CEO Merchant Capital (Diamond Member) to share his journey over the past year working with RMI,” said Robertson. “We may have some other exciting news to share on the night,” she continued.

Their tier system is a clear representation of the calibre of businesses that join:

Green Membership

Is the standard membership for financial services entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs which give its members a monthly newsletter to key insights and trends as well as access to AlphaCode’s open networking events.

Gold Membership

This tier is open to financial service founders and co-founders who have a full-time commitment to their business. Some of the benefits include access to AlphaCodes co-working space, support services, access to their vetted service providers and many other benefits.

Platinum Membership

This membership is offered to highly potential BBBEE businesses that received enterprise development and funding. Some of the benefits include semiprivate office space for a year in Sandton, exposure to commercial opportunities within and out of the portfolio companies, as well as an informal mentorship with Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMIH) and much more.

Diamond Membership

The final tier is offered by invitation to businesses which are suited for large growth and investment from RMIH. Some of the benefits include dedicated mentorship for two years through the Aurik Business Accelerator programme as well as access to co-working space in Sandton, formal mentorship from RMIH investment, team and more.

“We have certainly seen an increase in the number of gold members, however, we really do only take in the cream of the crop as we would like to keep the memberships exclusive so that the team can dedicate sufficient time to each of the founders on a monthly basis,” said Robertson.

AlphaCode has recently welcomed one Diamond member, six Platinum members and 48 Gold members.

Since their operations started, they’ve partnered up with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to award six BEE businesses a share of R4-million. The event was judged by CEO of Merrill Lynch SA Richard Gush, Partner at Identity Partners Sonja Sebosta, RMI Senior Investment Executive Dominique Collett and Executive Chairman at MyGrowthFund, Vusi Thembekwayo. The same event will be taking place in October 2016.

AlphaCode is also responsible for incubating the RMB innovation team The Foundery until the team grew large enough to move into their own offices.

“We have been working on a very exciting project with OUTsurance over the past 6 months, which we are sure is going to be met with much excitement but you will need to watch this space as I can’t say too much more for now,” said Robertson.

American author and entrepreneur Scott Belsky once wrote, “It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen,” and AlphaCode is all about that, putting ideas into action.



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