SA entrepreneur looks to angels to fund online PPE marketplace Insupply

Yossi Hasson, the managing director of Techstars, and ParcelNinja founder Justin Drennan are in talks to invest in Insupply, an online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of personal protective equipment (PPE).

While the startup’s founder Tamir Shklaz (pictured above) yesterday revealed to TechCentral’s Duncan McLeod in a video that the two had invested in his startup, Shklaz told Ventureburn today that the investment had not yet been finalised.

He said he was still discussing details with the two angels such as equity structure, but was hopeful that the deal would be completed “within the next week”.

While he did not say in the video how much the two had invested in his startup, Drennan told Ventureburn in a subsequent call that he and Hasson had invested “about R200 000” in the business.

Shklaz, who recently graduated from UCT in electrical computer engineering, founded the business in April. In 2018 he also founded Quillo, which is a marketplace for second-hand textbooks.

Tamir Shklaz says Yossi Hasson and Justin Drennan saw a lot of commercial viability in Insupply

He told TechCentral that the idea for Insupply came about after he participated in a project run by The Presidency and tech recruitment site Offerzen to set up a number of projects, including a project he participated in as project lead, involving helping medical hardware.

It was during this time that he saw the need to match those that have PPE with those that require it and began developing a platform to connect buyers and sellers of PPE. But initially things didn’t go so well.

“We started running into issues with the project just being a non-profit. It didn’t have the resources it required and I couldn’t get people to commit full time and it was difficult to co-ordinate.

“And then two particular investors, Yossi Hasson and Justin Drennan saw a lot of commercial viability in the project and said ‘cool let’s take this elsewhere’ and gave it the legs and room it needed,” he told McLeod.

‘Alibaba of Africa’

Shklaz told Ventureburn that he now has a team of three-part-time employees who help verify suppliers.

So far Insupply has received over 600 applications to supply PPEs, of which 100 have been approved (50 of these have gone through final approval and are currently listed on the site), with those suppliers submitting over 300 listings (with 114 items currently listed on the site).

Most of the suppliers are local companies that are importing PPEs, mainly from China. This, while most of the buyers include those looking to make bulk purchases such as private hospitals and clinics, mining companies and old-age homes.

The site doesn’t currently handle a payments, this is dealt with separately by buyers and sellers, says Shklaz.

As such, he says the site is not yet generating a revenue, but pointed out that he aims to charge suppliers that wish to have a premium service and also add commissions to payments that are made on the site.

Drennan has previously helped Shklaz with his other startup Quillo, and had always been on hand to provide advice to him.

Drennan told Ventureburn today that until Insupply was launched, those looking to purchase PPE had to hunt around for deals.

“It was all just random people importing things from overseas,” he said, adding that the platform had help formalise the purchase of PPEs.

And what about when the Covid-19 pandemic is over? Shklaz says he intends to move to supply other items, not just PPEs.

Says Shklaz: “My vision is to create the Alibaba of Africa.” It may be optimistic, but then again, what entrepreneur doesn’t dream big?

Featured image: Insupply founder Tamir Shklaz (Facebook)



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