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Investec, Nedbank, Compass Venture Capital invest in SA startup Omnisient


Omnisient, a Cape Town-based startup that specialises in secure data sharing for businesses, has landed a pre-Series A investment from Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking, Investec Private Capital and Compass Venture Capital.

The startup — which was founded in 2014 by Jon Jacobson (pictured above), Matt Mckie and Anton Grutzmacher — made the announcement in a statement today.

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Omnisient’s platform enables businesses to unlock the benefits of data collaboration while protecting customers’ data privacy and intellectual property.

It ensures that customers remain compliant with complex data privacy regulations such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The startup said that when investors conducted due diligence, they received compliance validation of the Omnisient platform from law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs.

Omnisient, which specialises in secure data sharing for businesses, has landed a pre-Series A investment

While the startup did not disclose the value of the investment or what stake investors have taken in the business, Grutzmacher confirmed when questioned by Ventureburn by phone today, that the amount was “below R20-million”.

He said the startup currently has a team of eight and is looking to grow this immediately to “at least 12” people, which includes new hires for Johannesburg, which he added were likely to be placed in a co-working location, at least for now.

In a subsequent call, Jacobson told Ventureburn that the startup is looking to open a sales office in Johannesburg and appoint a chief financial officer, likely based in Johannesburg.

‘Gained major traction’

The startup said since its launch the platform has gained “major traction” among SA businesses, including “leading banks, insurers and retailers”.

Jacobson told Ventureburn that the startup currently services three major SA banks and four SA top retailers.

He described how the startup’s platform can prove particularly useful to retailers and banks that have customer loyalty programmes and want to share customer data with current or potential partner companies.

The startup, he said, aims to next expand into the rest of Africa, likely in Nigeria where the company already offers Know your customer (KYC) services to data partners in Nigeria.

South Africa’s information regulator is pushing for the remaining provisions of POPI to be finalised and to come into effect by 1 April. After the commencement date, companies will have 12 months to get their systems and processes in place to comply with the act.

In addition to POPI, many large businesses within SA, including banks, insurers and retailers, have to comply with GDPR, which came into effect in 2018.

Essentially, GDPR regulations apply to the processing of personal data by “controllers” and “processors” based in the EU, as well as those located outside of the EU if they provide services and goods to EU customers.

GDPR penalties can be up to 4% of an organisation’s global annual turnover, while POPI carries a maximum R10-million fine or time behind bars for non-compliance.

The two new pieces of legislation are expected to drive business customers to the platform.

Noted Jacobson in the earlier statement: “Savvy business leaders are quickly recognising the imperative to act now, and are looking to integrate world-class technology that simultaneously drives growth through data-monetisation”.

Featured image: Omnisient CEO and technology officer Jon Jacobson (Supplied)

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