Oh the weather outside is frightful, but it’s not snowing in the south-western tip of Africa. The wind’s howling and four seasons are constantly…
Trevor Wolfe, the former managing director of Springleap — whose former founder Eran Eyal is facing fraud charges in the US over misrepresenting the SA startup to investors — has raised funding from US tech company Mailchimp.
While neither Mailchimp nor Wolfe responded to repeated requests for comment, the news was confirmed in a call with Ventureburn today by HAVAÍC CEO Ian Lessem, the SA venture capitalist who invested in delvv.io, a SA startup founded by Wolfe, who is American, and Remon Geyser.
It follows a HAVAÍC newsletter dated 21 August, in which Lessem revealed that Wolfe’s BigTeam had concluded an investment from MailChimp and was moving to work with Mailchimp in its head office.
BigTeam, a startup founded by Trevor Wolfe, the former managing director of Springleap which is at the centre of a US investigation, has netted investment from MailChimp
“Together they are working on a survey tool using BigTeam’s technology to service MailChimp’s 20 million business clients,” wrote Lessem.
He did not reveal how much Mailchimp had invested in the startup or when the agreement was concluded.
Data from Crunchbase reveals that BigTeam, which Wolfe founded in May last year (according to information on his LinkedIn page), has previously raised a $120 000 seed round in June last year from Techstars.
Delvv.io splits in two
HAVAÍC invested in Delvv.io, a creative research business, in 2016 (see this story). The business was subsequently split in two, with Delvv servicing the SA market and a new company, BigTeam focussed on the international market.
Writes Lessem: “As with Delvv, BigTeam hit the ground running and within months of relocating to Atlanta, they were accepted onto the TechStars accelerator programme.
“And again, within no time, it was clear that the team was onto something with their new AI powered feedback tools, as they very quickly landed pilots with some of the largest corporates in the US.
“This was in despite of CEO Trevor Wolfe having to fend off other companies participating in the programme from poaching their staff, as the SA skills were just that much more suited to real world problems than their more developed world counterparts.
“With some nice early traction, BigTeam decided it was time to go big or go home and began raising further capital for US expansion from US Venture Capital firms.
Three things helped conclude deal
Lessem writes that the investment from Mailchimp was essentially the result of three factors.
“Firstly, MailChimp, who has more than 20 million customers using their email management platform, surveyed their users asking what the one product development was that they would like to see from MailChimp. Overwhelmingly their users were calling for a survey tool to help them gather customer feedback.
“Secondly, BigTeam noticed a trend where the departments within the corporates they serviced who were using their feedback technology the most were those related to customer care. These departments were using BigTeam, which was designed as an internal feedback tool, to actually obtain customer feedback.
“And thirdly, one of the other startups who was on the TechStars programme, where BigTeam stood out, had recently been acquired by MailChimp,” wrote Lessem.
In a call with Ventureburn today Lessem confirmed that the deal did take place, and that it was concluded last month. He also confirmed that Wolfe still has a stake in Delvv.
Eyal charged over $600k fraud
Eyal, who is currently the co-CEO of US retail blockchain startup Shopin, was charged on 24 August last year by the New York Attorney General with allegedly stealing $600,000 from investors by fraudulently soliciting investors to purchase convertible notes through false representations of his company, Springleap.
Eyal has denied the charges. If convicted of the top count charged, he faces up to 15 years in prison. He is due to appear next in an ongoing case, in Kings Supreme Court in New York city on 19 September.
In June, Ventureburn revealed that the New York State Attorney General had launched a probe into a token offering run by Shopin (see this story).
In August last year, Wolfe told Ventureburn he was incorrectly named in charges an Indian investor laid against Springleap, because he wasn’t yet a full shareholder of the company (see this story).
During a call with Ventureburn during the time, he clarified that he had 5% in share options in Springleap, until the company took the decision to shut down in 2016.
Read more: New York Attorney General probing Eran Eyal’s Shopin
Read more: Are these the messages Springleap’s Eran Eyal sent to investors for funding?
Read more: Charges against Springleap founder not first time Eran Eyal’s in trouble with law [Updated]
Read more: delvv.io receives R6.5m in funding round [update]
Featured image: BigTeam founder Trevor Wolfe (YouTube)