Founder360° Magazine spoke to some of founders and players in the startup ecosystem in identifying the startups to look for heading into 2018.
These startups are not just disrupting our way of life, but they are signifying the kind of exponential growth that the Kenyan startup ecosystem is. The criteria used were based on startups that have been operational for the past 4 years; made considerable market traction and raised outside funding over the last 12 months.
Twiga Foods: The Future of African Retail
CEO: Grant Brooke
Founded in 2014, Twiga Foods is a mobile-based supply platform that allows vendors who operate kiosks and market stalls in Nairobi to order the supply of products at low-cost, better quality and timely than what informal markets can provide. These products include bananas, potatoes, tomatoes and onions and they process over 4000 orders weekly.
Highlights: In July 2017, Twiga raised $10.3 million in Series A from Wamda Capital, Omidyar, DOB Equity, Uqalo, 1776, Blue Haven Initiative, Alpha Mundi, and AHL. Within the same month, they received a grant of $2 million from USAID and GSMA.
Pezesha: Micro-lending Marketplace that Uses Credit and Data Analytics to Connect Lenders with High-Quality Underserved Low-Income Borrowers.
CEO: Hilda Moraa
Founded: Late 2016
Pezesha is a peer to peer microlending marketplace that connects lenders with high quality underserved low-income borrowers. Pezesha uses credit and data analytics to provide choice, inclusion and affordable digital financial services. Founded in late 2016 and led by Hilda Moraa, it provides an alternative option to get an unsecured loan quickly and at a lower rate than the ones offered by Banks, Microfinance, and even Saccos.
Highlights: Pezesha was part of four startups that were incubated at DFS Lab to share $250,000. In October 2017, Pezesha was selected to participate in Blackbox Connect 20 accelerator programme at Silicon Valley.
Lori Systems: Logistics platform That is Revolutionizing the Cargo-Transport Value Chain in Africa.
CEO: Josh Sandler
Lori systems is a logistics platform that is revolutionizing the cargo transport value chain in Africa. In East Africa where the cost of moving goods is among the highest in the world at 75%, Lori enables higher efficiency in the logistics space for transporters and cargo owners by optimizing truck utilization hence saving time and money. Through its proprietary software, the company also handles invoicing, payment and tracking.
Highlights: Lori systems just won the best show at Startup Battlefield Africa recently held in Nairobi banking $25,000 and an all-expense paid trip for two at San Francisco to compete in TechCrunch flagship event – Disrupt SF 2018.
Paygo Energy: Distribution Service that Sarnesses the Power of Pay-As-You-Go-Technology to Bring Modern Fuel to Homes Everywhere.
CEO: Nick Quintong
Industry: LPG energy
PayGo Energy is a distribution service that harnesses the power of pay-as-you-go-technology to bring modern fuel to homes everywhere. Founded in 2015, Paygo develops smart metering systems that monitor customer’s gas consumption and predicts when the gas will run out and automatically contacting the Paygo team for a replacement. This enables the customers to prepay for cooking gas using mobile money.
Highlights: Early this year, the team raised a US$1.43m debt and equity financing round from Novastar Ventures, Energy Access Ventures, Village Capital, Global Innovation Fund, and Global Partnerships/Eleos Social Venture Fund. It has received a grant of $$100,000 USD from Catalyst Fund. In 2015 PayGo Energy won Village Capital Hardware Africa competition.
Sendy: On-Demand Delivery Platform Connects Small Businesses with Drivers to Make Delivery Simple and Transparent across Africa.
CEO: Meshack Alloys
Industry: Transport / Logistics
Sendy is an on-demand delivery platform connects small businesses with drivers to make delivery simple and transparent across Africa. Founded in 2014, it uses a mobile application to link motorcycle riders, drivers of vans and pickup trucks to customers wishing to send packages and documents. Customers have the ability of real-time tracking the movement of their packages using the platform.
Highlights: In 2015, Sendy was the first to receive Safaricom Spark Fund where eligible startups receive amounts between $75,000 and $ 250,000. To date, the startup raised over $3 million from numerous investors including Savannah Fund. In August this year, Sendy was chosen among 20 startups to take part in World Bank-backed XL Africa accelerator programme, which offers participants help in securing up to US$1.5 million in early-stage capital.
Sokowatch: Fast and Free On-Demand Distribution Inventory Platform For Emerging Market Retailers.
CEO: Daniel Yu
Sokowatch is an on-demand distribution platform that provides multinational companies with a data-driven distribution network focused on the informal sector of emerging markets. Independent retailers are able to place orders via SMS to receive free, same day delivery thus efficiently service their customers. Presently in Kenya and Tanzania, Sokowatch currently serves over 6000 independent retailers and working with multinationals like Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, Nestle and Chandaria Industries.
Highlights: Early this year, Sokowatch was among the three startups in Africa that won $11,000 each at Innotribe Startup Challenge 2017. In October 2017, the startup raised undisclosed amount from the investment arm of Chandaria Industries
Cloud9XP: Online Marketplace for Booking Leisure Experience across Africa.
CEO: Emmanuel Miriti
Industry: Online Marketplace
Cloud9xp is an online marketplace for booking leisure experience across Africa. It was founded in 2015 by Emmanuel Miriti, Tesh Mbaabu, and Mesongo Sibuti, as an online apparel and pivoted in 2016 as an online retailer and booking service for leisure experiences. They provide a platform where anyone can book online “High on Life” experience such as flying, adventure, extreme outdoor activities handpicked by their seasonal experience masters. Within a period of one year, they have been able to sell over 1500 experiences on their platform with an average experience retailing at $30 / Kshs 3,000.
Highlights: In a recent episode of KCB Lion’s Den, Cloud9xp raised over $74,000 from Darshan Chandaria and Wandia.
M-Shule: SMS and Web-based Learning Management Platform.
CEO: Claire Mongeau
Industry: Education / EdTech
M-Shule is an SMS and web-based learning management platform which makes use of artificial intelligence to design tailored learning experiences.
Launched in Aug 2016, M-Shule is the first adaptive, mobile learning management platform designed to improve performance for millions of primary school students across Kenya and Sub-Sahara Africa.
Highlights: Mid this year, the startup was able to raise $40,000 from Canadian seed-stage investor Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB). To date, M-Shule has received more than $70 000 in funding. At the Seedstars Nairobi, M-Shule was chosen as the best startup among the 11 that pitched and will represent Kenya at the Seedstars Summit in Switzerland in April next year for an opportunity to pitch for $1-million in equity funding.
BitPesa: Digital Foreign Exchange and Payment Platform for Frontier Markets.
CEO: Elizabeth Rossiello
Market: Africa / World
Industry: Fintech / Blockchain
BitPesa is a digital foreign exchange and payment platform for frontier markets leveraging on Blockchain settlement to significantly lower the cost and increase the speed of business payments to, from and within sub-Saharan Africa. Founded in 2013, Bitpesa allows importers, exporters, and freelancers to easily send and receive payments in multiple currencies from around the world. It is headquartered in Nairobi with offices in Lagos, London, Luxembourg, and Dakar.
Highlights: In August 2017, Bitpesa raised $4,250,000 from Greylock Partners. To date, the company has raised $10,000,000 from various investors including Bitfury Capital, Draper Associates, Blockchain Capital and Pantera.
Sky.Garden: Online Marketplace for Kenyan Businesses.
CEO: Daniel Maison
Industry: Online Marketplace
Sky.Garden is a SaaS platform for mobile commerce that is built specifically to allow African businesses sell any product to defined audiences on digital channels. Business owners can use the platform to upload products, specify price points, stock levels, variants and much more.
There are no entry costs or registration fees with Sky.Garden, there are also no monthly fees. Sky.Garden works on commission and takes a service fee of 8% on every transaction. Founded in 2015 by Martin Majlund is in a bid to support explosive online demand and create long-term, sustainable digital economic growth in Kenya.
Highlights: In August this year, Sky.Garden raised $100,000 funding from Katapult Accelerator. To date, the startup has raised over $570,000 in outside funding.