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UPDATE (25 June 2019): Subsequent to the publication of this story, Unicorn Capital Partners executive assistant Kayleigh van der Hoff advised Ventureburn that the fund still has a 20% stake in Empty Trips. “We are jointly with Coetzee in the process of selling our shares in the company,” added Van der Hoff.
Benji Coetzee, the founder and CEO of online trip exchange platform EmptyTrips, today confirmed that she had exited the business and that the startup has been sold.
While Coetzee did not say who had acquired the company, Unicorn Capital Partners executive assistant Kayleigh van der Hoff told Ventureburn that the fund — which has a 20% stake in Empty Trips — is exiting the company.
In October 2017 the startup clinched what it claimed is a “multi-million rand” investment from Unicorn Capital Partners, in return for a 20% equity stake (see this story).
Said Van der Hoff: “We are jointly with Coetzee in the process of selling our shares in the company”.
The Joburg-based startup, which Coetzee (pictured above) launched in 2017, aims to solve a common challenge that transport companies often face with empty return legs, by leveraging the benefits of the shared economy.
The confirmation comes just weeks after Coetzee accused state-owned enterprise Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) of killing a R47-million a year cargo contract that the logistics startup had signed with brewer AB-Inbev.
At the time TFR claims it pulled a cargo load of beer the startup was handling because of technical reasons, Coetzee believes more sinister motives were behind the state-owned enterprise’s decision to pull the load at the last minute (see this story).
Last month Empty Trips founder Benji Coetzee accused Transnet of killing a R47m-a-year contract that the startup had signed
This, after last year she uncovered a common practice where TFL trains were transporting empty containers being loaded with illicit or undeclared goods, which would then be emptied at a siding before entering Johannesburg.
After she spoke out about the practice at several events last year, she began receiving several threatening calls. She said as a result she spent 10 days in November last year “off the grid” in the Natal Midlands recuperating, while investors told her to pull out of the sector and to stop talking about rail.
In an email to Ventureburn today Coetzee said only that “we have sold and I have exited”. She did not reveal who the company had sold to.
The email was in response to an enquiry from Ventureburn about Coetzee’s LinkedIn profile which now lists her involvement in Empty Trips as ending in June 2019. She is listed as a partner, since March, of Calibre Capital.
Read more: Transnet killed my startup’s R47m contract claims Empty Trips founder
Read more: 8 Gauteng startups to watch in 2018 [Digital All Stars]
Read more: Here’s how Africa Chivas Regal winner EmptyTrips will disrupt logistics sector
Featured image: Former Empty Trips founder Benji Coetzee (Facebook)