Google last week launched a new social media service called Shoelace on its Area 120 experimental projects platform. Shoelace aims to keep users “in…
The startup — which was founded in 2016 by James Lawson, Dewald Thiart and Luke Warner (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.
The platform also allows businesses to comply with Fica, Rica, the National Credit Act regulation (NCA) and the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) regulations.
Uprise.Africa is currently running a 14-day private offering (see also below Youtube video) on behalf of the startup to allow the company to raise funding from its immediate network of shareholders, friends and the over 20 000 active users of its app. Following the conclusion of this, it will launch its offering to the public next Wednesday (15 May).
The startup has so far raised R752 000 from 43 investors with 66 days left to raise the remaining over R23-million in investment.
In its offering the startup says by investing in Intergreatme, investors will own shares in a company that “has a potential consumer base of 25 million credit active South Africans, as well as, five billion people globally”. The minimum investment is R1000. Intergreatme says it aims to declare dividends in the next two years.
Intergreatme wants to raise a whopping R24-million through crowdfunding platform Uprise.Africa in exchange for a 20% share in the business
Intergreatme business operations head Garyth Ditchfield told Ventureburn in a phone call today that the R24-million the startup is seeking to raise is to help it to develop its platform further. The platform stores a user’s important personal information and documents, which can then be shared with a snap of a QR code or click of a button.
Ditchfield said since inception the startup has raised R22.5-million from a number of investors, including former MTN chief innovation officer Herman Singh and eBucks and Centbee founder Angus Brown. The startup’s most recent investors include BEE investment group OceanOn76, which invested in the startup last year.
R22.5m in angel investments
Intergreatme CEO Luke Warner, who formerly worked at Standard Bank, told Ventureburn that the investments the startup has been able to net from various investors have come “one at a time” at the startup has met various milestones, citing amounts like R750 000, R850 000, R1-million and R2-million.
He said he and his fellow founders opted to turn to the crowd to raise the investment it needed to build out its platform because the alternative was to white label the product with a large corporate, something he says he and his fellow co-founders didn’t want to do.
The startup, which currently has 13 full-time employees, has so far run pilots with banks, landed tenders with telecommunication giants and even done work with the traffic department to run alerts for users on their vehicle license disc renewals.
The startup has also won various awards. In October last year it took home the prize for the most innovative solution at the sixth edition of the MTN Business App of the Year Awards held in Johannesburg (see this story). The startup is also a past participant of the Standard Bank Incubator in Johannesburg.
Initially to gain traction, the startup built use cases for property managers on recording security access control details and that allows officials from courier companies to sign in when delivering parcels.
How Warner befriended eBucks founder
Warner told Ventureburn that he befriended Brown on LinkedIn, after posting what he referred to as a badly made $250 video developed in India detailing the idea behind Intergreatme.
Brown, he said, initially believed his idea wouldn’t work. Later he told Warner that he was about to leave his corporate job at Mercantile Bank and was interested in getting involved as an advisor.
He then invited Warner to his birthday party. Warner recalls that his wife — who is a schoolteacher — was initially nervous about the invitation and at a loss at what to wear when they were asked to Brown’s home in the opulent Hyde Park suburb of Johannesburg.
Warner puts his initial luck with landing a succession of big-name investors as being prepared to put out “the minimum ugly version of your product” as soon as possible in the hope that it grabs someone’s attention and can then be developed further.
The startup’s biggest risk is that of a data breach, but Warner says because personal information of users is spread across what he calls “silos”, he argues that it’s very difficult for a user’s entire profile of personal data to be hacked.
By turning to the crowd to raise investment, the startup had wittingly publicised its valuation, which at R120-million, Warner argues is lower than the valuation the company has been able to raise investment at from investors up till now.
But Warner is not too bothered and instead underlined the importance for the company to be as transparent as possible and that publicising figures would ensure that the company operates ethically and is held accountable by the public.
Ultimately R24-million could be a huge ask. If the startup proves successful in raising the amount it may well be the biggest amount netted by any organisation or person through a crowdfunding campaign in South Africa. But the startup’s CEO is confident that the startup will be able to raise the amount.
Says Warner: “We’re going to get the money. I already have 15 okes lined up who have a bar each”.
*Correction: In the initial version of this story, we had it that Intergreatme’s launch of its offering to the public would take place on Tuesday 14 May — it was in fact 15 May. We have amended the story accordingly.
Featured image (from left to right): Intergreatme founders James Lawson, Dewald Thiart and Luke Warner (Supplied)