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UPDATE (18 July 2019): The list and figures have been updated to take into consideration deals in the crypto sector that were unintentionally excluded in the initial version of this article.
Over half-a-billion rand in venture capital (VC) investments have gone to SA tech startups so far this year, reveal new figures compiled by Ventureburn on disclosed deals. The 10 biggest deals raised R444.4-million.
Ventureburn’s analysis — which considered only disclosed investments involving tech companies of under seven years old — reveals that in the first six months of the year fintech startups netted R188.7-million in eight disclosed SA tech startup deals, or about 37% of the R508.1-million of the total 18 disclosed deals.
The figure is less than half of the almost R1.2-billion invested in 25 disclosed deals in the six months to end 31 December 2018, a figure which was distorted by three deals — two in startup JUMO and one in Yoco — accounting for R1-billion of total deal value. Fintech deals made up 10 of these 25 disclosed deals.
For the six months to end 30 June this year, there were several other disclosed deals in SA tech firms of up to seven years old, including those in fintech Flexclub (R16.7m), proptech Digsconnect (R12-million), fintech Rivex (R11-million), insurtech InvestSure (R9.6-million), medtech SmartBlade (R9-million), The Sun Exchange (R3.5-million), Fancam (R1.4-million) and social enterprise startup Vollar (R500 000).
In addition, there were a number of undisclosed deals. These included deals in fintechs Fundrr and Ozow (formerly i-Pay), video production platform Vidr, cryptocurrency exchange Ovex, event staffing platform Peepz, insurtech Nobuntu, digital insurance broker Ctrl and artificial intelligence (AI) startup Cortex Logic.
Here then are perhaps SA’s biggest 10 startup deals so far this year:
SA tech startup RapidDeploy announced in February that it had raised $12-million (about R167-million) in a Series-A round from US venture capital fund GreatPoint Ventures and innovation fund Samsung Next (see this story). The startup did not reveal the stake that the two have taken in the company.
The funding will help the startup — which in January opened a new head office in the US (see this story) — to accelerate the development and deployment of its cloud aided platform.
The startup was founded by Brett Meyerowitz (pictured above, left) in 2014. He was later joined by fellow founder Steven Raucher (above right) who is now the CEO, in 2016.
The startup, which was founded in 2014 by CTO Neil Welman and CEO Trevor Gosling (pictured above, left and right, respectively), provides short-term loans to small businesses via an online platform (it typically lends out R150 000 over a six-month term period).
The startup has had access to over R150-million in debt funding since launching in 2014 and is on track to access another R500-million off the back of the startup’s latest equity raise says Gosling (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 R29-million, barely seven days after the official launch of a campaign on equity crowdfunding platform Uprise.Africa.
The Johannesburg-based 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.
Warner advises other startups looking to raise investment via an online platform, to focus on their customers and users. “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,” he told Ventureburn in this Q&A.
Naspers last month announced that its R1.4-billion venture capital (VC) fund Naspers Foundry, which is aimed at SA startups, had made its first deal, with a R30-million investment in SA startup SweepSouth (see this story).
The fund was launched in October last year by Naspers with the aim of investing in the SA technology sector (see this story).
Cape Town based SweepSouth, founded in 2014 by Aisha Pandor and Alen Ribic (pictured above, left and right), is an online cleaning services platform that connects clients with domestic cleaners.
In 2017 SweepSouth raised an undisclosed amount in a Series-A round which was led by international retail solutions company Smollan (see this story). It follows a R10-million round of funding in 2016 that the startup concluded (see this story).
SA aerial-data analytics startup Aerobotics in February announced that it had received R29-million ($2-million) from local venture capital (VC) company Paper Plane Ventures in its latest round of funding (see this story).
Aerobotics’ various software products help farmers – by way of a web-based and artificial-intelligence (AI) enabled web platform and app – to scout and find areas of their vineyards of orchards that are underperforming because of pests or other problems.
The Cape Town based startup was founded by James Paterson and Benji Meltzer (pictured above, left and right, respectively) in 2014.
The latest funding follows a $2-million round led by Nedbank in May last year (the deal was announced in July 2018 — see here) and an R8-million round in 2017 from SA VC 4Di Capital and the Savannah Fund in Kenya (see this story).
Inclusivity Solutions (R21m)
Cape Town based insurtech startup Inclusivity Solutions last month announced that it had raised $1.56-million in a Series-A round led by Amsterdam-based impact investment and advisory firm Goodwell Investments.
Goodwell Investments, which made the investment through its €100-million Sub-Sahara Africa focused uMunthu Fund, said in a statement that Allan Gray, RGAx (a subsidiary of Reinsurance Group of America) and other angel investors, it did not name, participated in the round.
The startup was founded in 2015 by CEO Jeremy Leach (pictured above). It designs, builds and operates inclusive digital insurance solutions (see this story).
At the time Kalon Venture Partners CEO Clive Butkow said there was no conflict of interest in the deal that his VC company participated in. This, despite Flow CEO Gil Sperling being a board member of Butkow’s VC fund (see this story).
Flow’s app allows tenants to get rewarded for things such as paying their rent on time and looking after their homes. Tenants get points every month that they can then use to access rewards from providers such as Superbalist, Weylandts, SweepSouth, OneCart, plus a selection of airtime and electricity providers.
The startup was founded by Sperling (pictured above, middle) Daniel Levy (above, right) and Jonathan Liebmann (above, left) in 2017.
Pretoria-based citizen engagement platform GovChat in May said it had secured an investment facility from JSE-listed firm Capital Appreciation, that will allow the start to tap up to R20-million in funding from the listed company (see this story).
GovChat said the Capital Appreciation, which invests in fintech businesses, made the investment through its enterprise development fund — which in terms of the BEE scorecard allows companies that lend to black-owned or black-empowered firms to score BEE points.
GovChat was founded in 2016 and launched last year by CEO Eldrid Jordaan (pictured above, left). Just under 500 000 South Africans currently use the platform.
Centbee was founded in 2017 by co-CEOs Angus Brown and Lorien Gamaroff (pictured above, left to right). Gamaroff is a leading expert in blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies, while Brown — the former CEO of eBucks.com — has 20 years’ experience in payments and banking.
The deal was facilitated by blockchain advisory, research and development firm nChain which last year in January took an equity stake in Centbee. The size of that deal was not disclosed.
In February cryptocurrency exchange platform Coindirect announced that it has raised €1-million in an investment round led by London-based investor Concentric.
Coindirect, which is registered in the Isle of Man and was founded in 2017 by South Africans Donald Jackson, Jesse Hemson-Struthers, Nicholas Haralambous and Stephen Young, claims to have 40 000 users in South Africa.
Coindirect said it planned to use the investment to further expand across Africa and Europe, supported by partnerships with Blockchain.com and MakerDao.