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A number of tech startups featured in news headlines last year. Ventureburn has picked eight that we think readers should follow closely in 2020.
They include a cloud-based software for first responders that is hitting it big in the US, SA’s soon-to-be first app-based bank, several fintech companies and a data analytics startup that uses drones.
Here then are Ventureburn’s eight SA startups to watch out for in 2020:
Bank Zero will soon go live. In November last year, venture capitalist and former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan said his new app-based bank was a step closer to launching operations to the public, after having completed its core value proposition and having gone live with its debit card. The bank is expected to launch to the public in the first half of this year — a delay of about a year over the bank’s earlier plans to launch by middle of last year. In November, Jordaan put the delay down to the bank opting to build its entire tech stack itself (see this story).
RapidDeploy had quite a year in 2019. The startup’s cloud-based software enables public safety officials to reduce emergency response times and improve situational awareness. Founded in Cape Town in 2014 by Steven Raucher and Brett Meyerowitz, the startup landed a $12-million investment last year (see here). The startup also opened a US office and moved to a bigger location in Cape Town (see here and here). It now employs almost 100 people – 62 in Cape Town and 35 in Austin, in the US. Last month Raucher said the startup is looking to double its Cape Town staff numbers to 120, by the end of this year. In November, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, described at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, Florida (see this video clip) how RapidDeploy protects public safety and prevents ransomware attacks.
Aerobotics is again a startup to watch (we also had it on our to-watch list in 2018 and 2019). This Cape Town based aerial data analytics platform provides analytics for drone users in the agricultural sector. Last year the startup landed a R29-million investment from local venture capital (VC) company Paper Plane Ventures in its latest round of funding. After taking part in Google’s Launchpad Accelerator in 2018 (see here), and launching its bid for the US market (see here), the startup won two accolades last year, namely: the President Macron Africa Tech Award at VivaTech 2019 (see here) and the Best Startup and Venture Capital Company category at the 2019 Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (Savca) Industry Awards (see here). Keep an eye on these guys
Pineapple: Joburg-based insurtech startup is on our list again. In October the startup won first prize and $1.5-million (R22-million) in VentureClash, a $5-million global venture challenge for early-stage companies, run by US-based Connecticut Innovations (see this story). This, as the startup also revealed that it had carried out a funding round of over R5-million early last year. It follows the R5.2-million in seed funding it landed in 2017 from Lireas Holdings, the strategic investment arm of Hannover-Re Group Africa, in return for a 25% stake.
Droppa, a Johannesburg based on-demand platform for trucks and bakkies, last month secured a multi-million rand investment from SA investor IDF Capital (see this story). Droppa CEO Khathutshelo Mufamadi, a former computer engineer, founded the startup in 2016. The web platform and app allows members of the public, and now retailers too, to source trucks and bakkies to deliver goods on their behalf. About 300 drivers, from the Western Cape and Gauteng (where the startup currently operates) are currently signed up to the platform. With the current funding injection, Droppa plans to expand to more cities across South Africa, including Durban in the first quarter of this year and Port Elizabeth in the first half of 2020.
Yoco is again (as in our 2018 and 2019 list) a startup to watch. After raising what is arguably one of the biggest venture capital deals announced in 2018 in South Africa ($16-million in a round led by Silicon Valley-based VC firm Partech — see this story), the point-of-sale payments provider announced in September last year that it is launching the Yoco Go, a new, lower-cost POS terminal, as it looks to double its customer base from 50 000 to 100 000 in 2020 ahead of a further fundraising round (see this story). It’s a far cry from Yoco’s early days when the startup was living on the edge in the two years it took to conclude the company’s first funding round (read about it here).
JUMO is once again a startup to watch. In November last year the fintech startup — which was founded by SA entrepreneur Andrew Watkins-Ball in 2014 — celebrated a new milestone, having helped connect over 15 million people to credit and savings in their six markets in Africa and Asia to date. The startup, which is registered in Mauritius, helps facilitate digital financial services such as credit and savings in emerging markets. In 2018 it raised a massive $64.5-million (see this story). Up to the end of October last year the startup claims it has helped disburse over $1.6-billion in funding to small and micro enterprises and is growing its base of savings products. Last year the startup also announced that it had appointed Buhle Goslar and Ashish Desai as Africa CEO and India CEO respectively (see this story). In November last year it said it plans to enter new markets in Asia and Africa in the coming months. Watch this space.
SweepSouth announced in October last year that it had raised over R50-million. At the time the Cape Town based on-demand domestic cleaning service’s co-founder Aisha Pandor said the startup would use the investment to expand on the continent (see this story). Pandor, who founded the startup in 2014 with her husband Alen Ribic, said the funding will be instrumental in achieving the startup’s strategic goals going forward. These include the launch of a new platform SweepSouth Connect, which will offer services such as handymen, plumbers, electricians, nannies and more, as well as an online SweepSouth Shop which will sell a range of home products.