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“Extremely valuable.” This is how Voyc.ai co-founder Matthew Westaway described he and his team’s experience as part of the third class of Google’s Launchpad Africa.
The 12 startups from the accelerator’s latest programme are due to graduate at a demo day on 21 June.
Ahead of the conclusion of the programme, Ventureburn spoke to two of the 12 participants (see the list of names in this story) on their experience on the programme, which was run in Lagos and Nairobi.
The participants on the current cohort include four startups from Kenya, three from Nigeria, two from South Africa and one each from Uganda, Senegal and Egypt.
We interacted with quality mentors from US, Ireland, rest of Africa says Google Launchpad Africa participant
Westaway says his startup interacted with “quality” mentors from the US, Ireland and the rest of Africa.
The startup’s CX research platform helps clients in the financial sector that conduct market research over the phone, to more quickly transpose and find themes from the research, and in so doing, to better understand their customers.
Westaway, who has attended the programme with fellow co-founder Lethabo Motsoaledi (Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s daughter) and two developers, said most useful for his startup were the talks and mentoring sessions that touched on the use of data and Google Analytics.
This has helped the startup to word their Google Ads better, such that the startup has already received 20 demo calls off a campaign it ran last week, after it used Google Analytics to better determine what the startup’s target clients are searching for on the web.
Westaway said the startup was also able to meet with the Nigerian office of a big research company in Lagos and is in talks with the company about running a project together with Google.
The startup, which Westaway and Motsoaledi launched in February last year and which is registered in Holland, is currently in the private beta stage, testing its platform with Standard Bank, and aims to launch a public version of its platform later next month.
The startup has raised $230 000 (over R3-million) since inception — including $120 000 from Techstars and SAP –and now has a team of six and generates a revenue of about $10 000 a month currently — with the aim of hitting $80 000 a month next year.
The duo landed initial funding of $110 000 from four angel investors (three of them women) including the Dutch ambassador to Lithuania, Bonnie Horbach. Horbach once helped mentor Motsoaledi when she served as Dutch consul general in Cape Town.
‘Learning about Google itself was valuable’
Another participant who found Google’s Launchpad Africa programme valuable is Zelda Learning co-founder and COO Jasanth Moodley.
The startup, which runs a bursary management platform that helps organisations find and filter talented youth and fund their university studies, was founded in 2017 by three former UCT students — Moodley, Carla Wilby and Dominic Schorr.
Moodley told Ventureburn that learning about how Google does things within their own company in terms of process and procedures in they’ve put in place, has likely been the most useful for the startup.
“This ranges from learning about how they hire to learning how they track team performance. Something we implemented immediately were objectives and key results (OKR’s) which is essentially a goal-setting and planning process that aligns your individual goals and metrics, team goals and metrics to the entire company’s objectives,” he said.
He said access to the mentors at the high touch-points (HTP) was also invaluable. “It allowed us to brainstorm with experts and come up with solutions to specific problems that the company is facing.
“The most useful thing was probably discussing our sales processes and funnel and highlighting where we are having issues. This allowed us to come up with new strategies to solve these issues,” commented Moodley.
‘One-on-one sessions were great’
Another participant, ScholarX founder Bola Lawal said the startup found the one-on-one sessions with the mentors “valuable” as they have helped the startup to shape crucial parts of the business.
The startup connects high potential students with funding opportunities to help them access an education. Three of the Lagos-based startup’s team members are taking part on the programme.
“It was from such sessions that we took back knowledge of how to shape the branding and marketing strategy of the business. We practically began remodeling and we also developed a new team culture,” commented Lawal to Ventureburn in an email.
Lawal said the startup also had the opportunity to meet with a potential investor, Transsion Future Hub, a subsidiary of Transsion Holdings.
“We haven’t raised any money from them yet, though talks are going really well,” he commented.
Lawal said after the programme’s first high touch-point (HTP1) earlier this year, the startup opened its seed round, and so far the responses have been good.
He would not disclose how much funding the startup has secured from the round, but said the startup has received “commitment, and investment from angel investors and venture capitalist alike”.
If Bawal and Westaway’s experience of the programme is anything to go by, come later next month and after a hard few months of intensive learning, those teams from the 12 participating startups will have something to celebrate.
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Featured image: Participants at Google Launchpad Africa’s third cohort, with Voyc.ai co-founder Matthew Westaway pictured far right (Voyc.ai via Facebook)