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UPDATE (10 December 2019): While Intergreatme’s equity crowdfunding campaign closed with the startup having raised a total of R32,601,000 against a targeted raise of R24-million — the startup had to give back over R25-million of the raise because the money that investors pledged was suspect (see this story).
Those in the SA tech sector are still scratching their heads wondering how SA regtech startup Intergreatme was able to raise over $2-million in just six days.
But the money is still rolling in, having now topped R29-million, barely seven days after the official launch of the campaign on Uprise.Africa.
So, how the heck did they do it?
The startup — which was founded in 2016 by Dewald Thiart, Luke Warner and James Lawson (pictured above, from left to right) — has an identity management platform which provides users with control of their identities across financial services, telecommunications and insurance (see this earlier story and this one).
By 11am today and with the campaign set to close on Friday, the startup has raised a whopping R29,025,000 from 208 investors — well over its target of R24-million, in exchange for a 20% share in the startup.
Ventureburn contacted Intergreatme CEO and co-founder Luke Warner, who responded to a number of questions via email.
What do you attribute the record fast raise to (probably the quickest raise in African equity crowdfunding history)?
It was the three years of traction we attained, the cumulative networks from all our achievements and personal relationships we built with every person from CEOs of listed entities to my daily Uber drivers, security guards and (an online domestic workers platform) SweepSouth ladies. We treat everyone equally.
We have an extremely loyal active user base of over 20 000 users, active social media pages. Engaging our users who love us. They jumped at the opportunity to invest.
We also had an exceptionally successful launch organised by Garyth (Ditchfield — the startup’s operations manager — Ed) and Tshidi Martien (also from the startup – Ed), with emotionally moving stories from each founder.
You invest in people, not businesses.
What are your immediate plans following the raise?
We will plan a party for next week, once the raise is officially closed. For now, we will take the time to ensure we help guide even the smallest investors on board.
Because we want to play our part in wealth redistribution. To reduce inequality in South Africa. As founders we have been pro UBI or Universal Basic ownership or dividends from the start, which scared away many VC firms. We want our users to own their own data and earn an income off it.
How many investors have taken part in the offering?
We have over 208 investors now, R29-million (as of 11am today — Ed), from small R1000 investments, R10 000, R100 000, R1-million and even some R5-million (amounts).
What kind of people took part in the raise?
To my knowledge, no VC firms yet. Mostly, friends, family, community, staff, people in our day-day environments and then our 20 000 loyal user base.
Some investors were CEOs of listed entities but asked to not be disclosed to the press.
The majority of the quantum, collectively was purchased by black females. So, cumulatively we have enough black female equity for a Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) level-1 status now.
We’re looking forward to access some decent business now which was off limits before.
What’s your advice to other startups looking to raise equity funding via a crowdfunding platform?
Focus on your customers and users, the few that love you. Build trust and confidence by reaching milestones and keep the momentum going. It’s not about the idea, it’s about the execution and the traction.
Traction is key, it speaks for itself. Actions speak louder than words. Watch what we do, not what we say.
We believed that being around for three years, with a sufficient network and user base with ample traction was the right time to let the crowd in.
I would not recommend it early unless you’ve displayed your ability to succeed without the crowd. You need to be able to win regardless of the circumstances.
How will these 208 or more shareholders keep tabs and hold Intergreatme accountable?
We have an independent board member representing the crowd and protecting their rights.
The nominated board member is Brenda Kali (see here LinkedIn profile here).
- We will be attending the Conscious Companies Awards again tonight for the third year in a row.
- We will aim for a monthly newsletter.
- We will have our normal quarterly board meetings (Share summary via email)
- We will have our normal annual general meeting (AGM) as per the companies act in SA.
- We normally have a quarterly stakeholder party for all involved, a few hours after our quarterly board meeting.
- We provide a stakeholder update, its only scheduled from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. But somehow ends up ending at 2am.
- We’ve built a loyal, trusting and fun community.
Featured image (from left to right): Intergreatme founders Dewald Thiart, Luke Warner and James Lawson pictured at the official launch of the startup’s equity crowdfunding offering on 15 May (Facebook)