Residents of Cape Town were treated to sights of a robot dog walking through the CBD as Dwyka Mining Services showcased Boston Dynamic’s Spot….
Meet Stuart van der Veen. Van der Veen last month took up a position as chief platform officer of aerial-data analytics startup Aerobotics.
But what a lot of those in the tech scene don’t know is that he helped found a venture capital firm that today is behind some of the biggest names in the SA tech sector.
Paper Plane Ventures was founded in late 2014 by Van der Veen (pictured above) and Michael Stannard, who today serves as the VC’s managing director.
Van der Veen initially ran Paper Plane Ventures as an advisory firm. Using surplus cash from consulting, the firm took options in various local startups and even in a Finnish startup.
He and Stannard later converted the options to equity in the 2017, the same year that the VC was acquired by Platform Investment Partners.
Van der Veen told Ventureburn in an email last week that the group today offers investors access to an innovative telecom and technology focused investment team with an “excellent” track record in capital deployment, merges and acquisitions (M&A) advisory, and capital raising.
Paper Plane Ventures draws its contributions from Rand Merchant Bank and from Dimension Data co-founder Richard Came, who founded Platform Investment Partners in 2016, with Shaun Clark.
Platform Investment Partners have been founding shareholders of Conduct, Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa.
Paper Plane Ventures draws its contributions from Rand Merchant Bank and from Dimension Data co-founder Richard Came
“My energies are currently focussed on scaling our portfolio company, Aerobotics, as chief platform officer,” Van der Veen told Ventureburn.
He described the investor’s core investment thesis as “value investing” and added that his team has a strong track record of monetising investments.
“We consider ourselves stage agnostic and base our return thresholds on our anticipated holding period, j-curve depth, cashflow yield and investment stage risk. We’re particularly fond of scalable industry analytics platforms, like Touchsides and Aerobotics,” he said.
He said recent examples include the sale of Conduct and Vumatel to the CIVH group, and the recent sale of Paper Plane Venture’s portfolio company, Touchsides, to a European based global fast moving consumer goods company.
Touchsides was founded in 2013 by Gary Kaplan (who was also a founder of JSE-listed Blue Label Telecoms) and David Fraser (former Group CTO of Blue Label Telecoms).
The company uses in-store touchpoints at checkout and via mobile phones to collect data on consumer behaviour for retailers and brand marketers.
Van Veen would not disclose how much each had been sold for.
The current Paper Plane Ventures portfolio consists of:
- Centbee: The bitcoin wallet provider received investment in 2017. The startup was subsequently funded by nChain, an advisory, research, and developer of blockchain technologies (See this story). Centbee founder Lorien Gamaroff today declined to reveal how much the company received in funding, when contacted by Ventureburn by telephone. He said Centbee is “about to raise its Series-A” round.
- Click2Sure: Paper Plane Ventures invested in the digital insurance platform in 2017. The startup was subsequently funded by Greenlight RE, a Nasdaq-listed reinsurer (see this story). Click2Sure founder Daniel Guasco today declined to reveal how much the funding was that the company received, citing a confidentiality clause signed with the funder.
- Touchsides: The consumer insights and brand management platform received investment in April last year from Paper Plane Ventures, with the investor having exited the company in January. Touchsides co-founder Gary Kaplan would not disclose the value of the acquisition. However, he did say that he and co-founder David Fraser would be staying on and retaining a minority stake in the company.
- Senzolive: This Finnish office occupancy platform received investment in August last year.
- Howler: Paper Plane Ventures invested in this RFID cashless events platform in October last year.
- Aerobotics: The investor committed R29-million to the aerial-data analytics startup in February.
Van Veen said the group is currently undertaking a “brand alignment exercise”, and added that he expects a more unified approach across the group to be presented within the next quarter.
He said the name of the VC would likely change from Paper Plane Ventures, to “Platform Investment Partners”.
Featured image: Paper Plane Ventures founder Stuart van Veen (LinkedIn)