20 hot African startups re-defining the phrase TIA – This Is Africa
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Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ Map painted on hands showing concept of having the Country Of Africa

Dark Web, bitcoin, social, ad tech, clean tech, energy – these are all technologies both in development and in use within the many hi-tech/startup hubs sprouting helter skelter across the African continent

TIA – This Is Africa. The phrase is usually meant to describe the idiosyncrasies many would find frustrating about dealing with a continent that has one foot placed on the cusp of cutting edge tech and the other languishing in the third world.

However, if trends continue to grow in the development of Africa’s local hi-tech sector, the expression TIA may start to embody a whole new meaning. Soon, it could evoke associations like Dark Web, bitcoin, social, ad tech, clean tech, energy: All of these tech sectors are both in development and in use within the many hi-tech/startup hubs sprouting helter skelter across the African continent.

We recently embarked on a little tech safari to see for ourselves the kind of innovation taking place over in Africa and we came across some pretty cool game out there, first hitting up South Africa, then to Kenya and finally Ghana. Of course, no hunt would be complete without mountable screenshots for your desktop wallpaper, so enjoy those.

20 hot African startups helping to re-define TIA:

South Africa

1) Magnetic

Photo Credit: PR, Screenshot

Photo Credit: PR, Screenshot

Founded – January 2012

Founders –  Korak Kuhnert CTO, Daniel Marcus CEO, Jan Pickard CPO

Funding – Angel, $100K

Location – Cape Town, South Africa

Overview – An SMB management tool billing itself as a full stack solution for small to medium sized companies in dealing with CRM, accounting, project management, time tracking and more.

Why Them – The Magnetic team continues to release a steady stream of new products and features, despite being bootstrapped since its launch. Even the most recent funding was of a minimal amount, leading us to believe these guys are not only able to build a product, but can also exercise a business strategy.

2) Ekaya

Photo Credit: PR, Ekaya

Photo Credit: PR, Ekaya

Founded – 2013

Founders – Ruark Ferreira, Justin R. Melville and Rudolf Vavruch

Funding – Angel, $127.8K

Location – Cape Town, South Africa

Overview – Calling themselves the Airbnb for long term rentals, Ekaya is a solution that offers property owners a means for listing their properties on a market that avoids the typical hassles of finding a trustworthy agent and renter.

Why Them – The DIY market is on the upswing in all areas. Property renting is one of the most dynamic markets with supply and demand in constant flux. A model like Ekaya is primed for export to any desirable living location on the globe.

3) SumRando

Photo Credit: PR, SumRando

Photo Credit: PR, SumRando

Founded – 2011

Founders – Jonathan de Wolff

Funding – Undisclosed

Location – Cape Town, South Africa

Overview – Platform providing personal user anonymity for online usage across multiple platforms.

Why Them – This stealthy startup seems to be attracting more and more users at a steady rate, and it’s no surprise. With hacker activity, government spying scandals and large organizational abuses abounding, the desire for dark web abilities is only increasing. SumRando has plenty of room for growth, right along with the industry it occupies.

4) Cognician

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Cognician

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Cognician

Founded – 2010

Founders – Barry Kayton and Patrick Kayton

Funding – Undisclosed

Location – Cape Town, South Africa

Overview – An online learning platform for employees, engaging them in thought provoking, introspective conversations over chat that increase self and situational awareness to boost overall organizational productivity.

Why Them – The world of industrial psychology and organizations spending truck loads of money on employee performance programs had its heyday in the ’90s and early 2000s pre-bubble burst and recession, respectively. However, performance measures are always of concern for large companies, especially in today’s rapidly changing corporate cultural environment where giants like Google and and Facebook are kind of making it up as they go along. If Cognician can demonstrate how their affordable solution can help boost performance, I believe there’s plenty of outlets for them to expand.

5) Zando

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Zando

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Zando

Founded – 2011

Funding – $25.7M

Founders – Peter Allerstofer and Manuel Koser

Location – Cape Town, South Africa

Overview – South Africa’s largest e-tailer for fashion and footwear.

Why Them – In a few short years, Zando has managed to climb to the top of its local food chain. As other countries in Africa grow their emerging markets, the opportunity for Zando to go from a million dollar company to a billion dollar unicorn increases with each passing year.

6) 8Bit

Photo Credit: Screenshot, 8Bit

Photo Credit: Screenshot, 8Bit

Founded – 2013

Funding – Seed, $140K

Founders – John Saddington and Tom Kennedy

Location – Cape Town, South Africa

Overview – A content recommendation platform for content creators and publishers.

Why Them – Still in its infancy, 8Bit was dubbed one of the ten best startups coming out of Africa this year at Web Summit. Its focus on indie publishers, who are collectively gaining power as nextgen influencers, make it an intriguing startup to keep track of.

7) AdTangerine

Photo Credit: Screenshot, AdTangerine,

Photo Credit: Screenshot, AdTangerine

Founded – 2013

Funding – Undisclosed

Founders – Tiago Guedes, Raphael Costa, Jonatas de Paula

Location – Johannesburg, South Africa

Overview – A social media, incentivized advertising platform. Users offer ‘Tangerine’ currency to incentivize other users to post their agendas to their own social profiles. Those who post can redeem Tangerines for cash payment deposited to their Paypal account.

Why Them – Many people have been trying to figure out a way to monetize popular social profiles without killing them in the process. Someone will likely figure this out sooner or later, but the first hurdle is to find a technical track that’s easy for users to use and understand. It’s worth keeping tabs on Tangerine to see how they fare.

8) Flowgear

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Flowgear

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Flowgear

Founded – 2010

Funding – $130K

Founders – Daniel Chilcott and JJ Milner

Location – Johannesburg, South Africa

Overview – Flowgear is a business solution for integrating and connecting multiple cloud based applications so that a business environment has seamless connectivity throughout all their cloud-based assets.

Why Them –  The need for this kind of service is only going to grow. Flowgear has to figure out how to carve out major market share for their region but once they do that, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

9) ChangeCorp

Photo Credit: Screenshot, ChangeCorp

Photo Credit: Screenshot, ChangeCorp

Founded – 2010

Funding – $1M

Founders – Wayne Kyle

Location – Johannesburg, South Africa

Overview – A solution analyzing in-store videos and creating actionable analytics for brick and mortar stores on the ground.

Why Them – Big Data is the buzz word of the day and figuring out what to do with data has been the basis for billions of investment dollars flying around the startup scene. However, a key issue that’s less discussed is what sources of data should be tracked and combed for meaningful information. The idea of scouring in-store video for meaningful data is a brilliant niche in the Big Data world, which has barely defined itself in the broader spectrum of fields, let alone has had the time to spawn a host of niche sub-sectors. So, it would appear ChangeCorp is ahead of the curve.

10) Appening

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Appening

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Appening

Founded – 2012

Funding – $20K

Founders – Dale Amler

Location – Johannesburg, South Africa

Overview – Appening is an app that keeps users informed about events going on in their proximity based on interest and other factors.

Why Them – OK, this is a risky one but we thought we’d give it a shout out. It’s a great app idea prone to sharing and monetization, and ultimately regional expansion. To achieve these goals, Appening will have to have some killer marketing and product development execution. If this is only the beginning of Appening as opposed to what-you-see-is-what-you-get, we may see some interesting movement here. Otherwise it will remain dead in the water.

Kenya

11) Kopo Kopo

Photo Credit: PR
Photo Credit: PR

Founded – 2010

Founders – Dylan Higgins and Ben Lyon

Funding – Series A, $8,959,922

Location – Nairobi, Kenya

Overview – Kopo Kopo is an SaaS company allowing small to midsize businesses to accept mobile payments.

Why Them – One of the main reasons that is oftentimes difficult to take advantage of emerging markets is not their lack of products or technology, but rather the lack of infrastructure to facilitate a viable market for those products and technologies. Facilitating mobile solutions is a cheap and effective way to go around the infrastructure problem and Kopo Kopo should expect to see a lot of success with this model both inside and outside Kenya.

12) Sanergy

Photo Credit: PR, Sanergy

Photo Credit: PR, Sanergy

Founded – 2010

Founders – David Auerbach, Nathan Cooke, Lindsay Stradley and Ani Vallabhaneni

Funding – Seed, $300K

Location – Nairobi, Kenya

Overview – Sanergy builds low cost sanitation solutions for third world, inner city slums. The company seeks to franchise its solutions with local service providers to create a more hygenic reality for these areas. Waste is converted to fertilizer and compost and resold to the agricultural market at a significantly cheaper cost than imported, synthetic solutions.

Why Them – The sad fact is, according to UN-Habitat, population figures for slums in developing countries stood at approximately 863 million people, or 33% of the urban population, in 2012. Disease and overall health are primary concerns in low-income areas where outbreaks of diseases like Ebola are more likely to occur. Sanergy is working around the lack of infrastructure and funding to find viable initial stage solutions with a built in recyclable profit vertical.

13) Stima

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Stima

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Stima

Founded – 2010

Founders – Konrad App, Homayoon Shahinfar

Funding – Angel, Undisclosed

Location – Nairobi, Kenya

Overview – A Pay-Per-Use solar energy provider, Stima develops and distributes portable solar based chargers with a patent pending payment control technology built in.

Why Them – Renewable energy sources were supposed to be the great hope of the future, especially for emerging markets. At present, these solutions have yet to live up to their potential, often times proving unwieldy and costing users more than they save. Stima’s novel approach of Pay-Per-Use solar energy is a workaround for the aforementioned drawbacks. The tailoring of efficient and affordable solutions prevalent in the modern business world in the forms of SaaS and PaaS, to the needs of emerging market populations in the form of solar energy, is an apt blend of business acumen, process and technology based innovation, and altruistic disruption. The same way a young startup can compete and thrive in a world of conglomerates by procuring compartmentalized and budgeted solutions for their operational needs, an individual in Kenya can now enjoy the added power needed to keep their phone charged or the light on, allowing them to close the advantage gap that much more while opening up new opportunities for success.

14) Mdundo

Photo Credit: PR, Mdundo

Photo Credit: PR, Mdundo

Founded – 2012

Founders –  Francis Amisi, Nikolai Barnwell, Kresten Buch, Martin Møller Nielsen

Funding – Seed, $650K

Location – Nairobi, Kenya

Overview – Billed as the Soundcloud for Africa, Mdundo is a music distribution app focusing primarily an African styled music.

Why Them – Most entrepreneurs recognize that emerging markets represent tremendous opportunity for outside businesses to break in and open up shop. But Mdundo is looking to take advantage of the native cultural aspects of the Kenyan market and other emerging markets by focusing on local music. That’s a new take that could be extremely successful.

15) Valuraha

Photo Credit: PR, Valuhara

Photo Credit: PR, Valuraha

Founded – 2014

Founders – Njoroge Kinyanjui, Betty Mutimba, Wangechi Mwangi

Funding – Undisclosed

Location – Nairobi, Kenya

Overview – Billed as the Wall Street Survivor for East Africa, Valuraha provides the inside scoop into the financial realities of Kenya’s fiscal market.

Why Them – There are so many opportunities for investor success outside of the big exchanges like the NYSE, the LSE and the HKSE. Valuraha is tapping into this potential for Africa, and then who knows.

Ghana

16) Ahonya

 

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Ahonya

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Ahonya

Founded – 2013

Funding – Seed, undisclosed

Founders – Philip Adzanoukpe, Gerard Yitamkey and Addo Kufuor Mensah

Location – Accra, Ghana

Overview – Ahonya is a Ghana based and Ghana focused e-commerce platform for hi-quality OEM electronics.

Why Them – The idea of specializing in location based e-commerce is intriguing, assuming the founders can find a way to turn that into an advantage for their users. Ahonya must be doing something right given that it secured VC seed funding in its first year of operation.

17) Chillax

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Chillax,

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Chillax

Founded – 2013

Funding – Undisclosed

Founders – Joel Armah, Andrew Barnes and Kingsley Abrokwah

Location – Accra, Ghana

Overview – A real time smart recommendations app for activities tailored to you based on your location, the time of day and your personal preferences.

Why Them – These kinds of apps are gaining in popularity but competition can be fierce. Having a solid emerging market with which to gain user traction and work out the kinks is a decided advantage for the team over at Chillax.

18) Kitiwa

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Kitiwa

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Kitiwa

Founded – 2013

Funding – Undisclosed

Founders – Falk Benke, Emmanuel Quartey, Mawuli Adzoe and Nikunj Handa

Location – Accra, Ghana

Overview – A facilitator of financial transactions for Africans via bitcoin.

Why Them – Anything involving bitcoin is hot these days. In areas where standard banking is not always an option, or with demographic groups that are limited in their financial processing options (for example, foreign workers), Kitiwa has tremendous amounts of growth potential.

19) SomaMi

Photo Credit; Screenshot, SomaMi

Photo Credit; Screenshot, SomaMi

Founded – 2014

Funding – Undisclosed

Founders – Kofi Asamoa

Location – Accra, Ghana

Overview – An online portal  and marketplace that brings together errand posters and errand runners.

Why Them – Simplifying the process of a courier is an excellent idea with potential far beyond the confines of Africa. If SomaMi can perfect the logistics and work of expanding a robust database of service providers, they could go places.

20) Leti Arts

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Leti Arts

Photo Credit: Screenshot, Leti Arts

Founded – 2009

Funding – $100K

Founders – Eyram Tawia and Wesley Kirinya

Location – Accra, Ghana

Overview – A digital comics, games and media house specializing in storyboards specific to African culture.

Why Them – The African mobile market is huge, and targeting them with culturally relevant games and characters is a brilliant move that could see major dividends. The key to success will be the quality of their work. If it’s good, word of mouth should be able to handle the rest.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ Map painted on hands showing concept of having the Country Of Africa

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Avi Schneider

About Avi Schneider


Global editor and writer for Geektime, author of the book 'How To Fight For Your Goals: Social Combat Theory' and the SocialCombatMedia.wordpress blog, founder of Cluboom and former senior writer for Blonde 2.0. Schneider is an orthodox Jew, husband, father, martial artist, writer, speaker - overall Jack of all trades and a master of jack (but working on it).

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