Until now the usual top list of hottest African startups to watch always tended to be Africa’s largest showcase for technology's giants nevertheless it’s also one of the primary hubs for the scene's innovative upstarts and even though flashy booths from the likes of Google, Jumia, Intel, IBM, Andela, Flutterwave, Paystack, iRokoTV, Huawei and more typically generate buzz, it’s the bootstrapped or (initially bootstrapped) startups that tend to have riveting stories and even some of the most talked-about products, services & events. But which of these companies do we think have the brightest futures ahead of them? We hope you find our top list of hottest African startups to watch out for in 2019/2020 quite insightful.
Here are 12 of the most inspiring African success stories we strongly recommend you should look out for.
SkillPatron - It’s not every day a bootstrapped startup from Nigeria makes the list of the continent’s top hottest African startups to watch – yet today in 2020 SkillPatron has.
In the Nigerian tech scene (especially for Lagos based startups) venture capital is a hell of a drug and like we’ve seen with (now defunct) high fundraising startups like OLX, Kaymu, TracList, Konga, Efritin, InstantPickUp, SoRepairIt, SocialBamBam and thousands of other Nigerian startups who raised more than 2 million dollars throughout their life cycle it’s possible to overdose on VC, but for most Nigerian founders that is a champagne problem. Even cash fat startups like Andela, Renmoney, Payporte appear to be struggling at the moment.
More often the primary question investors interested in the Nigerian tech space hear is “how do I get a VC to back my startup?” These Nigerian founders aren’t worried about how overcapitalization will make their IPO prospects trickier — Their primary aim is scrambling to get someone, anyone, to sign their first term sheet.
Like elsewhere in the world there’s a widespread belief among Nigerian founders that venture capital is a precursor to success. VC especially foreign VC is a common denominator of the most successful tech startups, but it isn’t a prerequisite, especially at the early stages.
At the moment it seems founders of successfully bootstrapped startups like SkillPatron are beginning to prove Nigerian entrepreneurs and to a larger extent African entrepreneurs can manage to go a long way quite a bit with little to no capital.
It’s a given VC capital won’t make your company insightful, Founders who can’t creatively turn $1 into $10 shouldn’t be expected to be able to turn $1 million into $10 million.
To further help illustrate how emerging African startups can move forward - at Startup influencer we have added a bootstrapped startup like SkillPatron to our top list of hottest African startups to watch in 2020 as a worthy example of companies that started with a few thousand dollars or even just sweat equity and went on to become one of the near-perfect blueprints of the fast-growing number of bootstrapped african startup companies and certainly a positive narrative as one the most inspiring stories of african entrepreneurs in the herald of a new decade.
SkillPatron sprang into the mainstream spotlight in 2016, when the HR tech world discovered that this cool but disruptive startup had bootstrapped its way to big growth and profitability.
There was some point in 2016/2017 when SkillPatron’s young 20-something Founder & CEO - Jake Adebayo, had an acquisition offer of $1 million in one hand and 6 term sheets from major VC firms in the other. He turned down the offer and decided to bootstrap the company himself alongside a couple of key employees.
At the moment SkillPatron is pioneering a new labor model for a rapidly evolving workforce as an African startup that is changing how individuals get work done & how businesses operate by delegating strategic tasks to its team of highly trained “Project Managers’ who strive to provide their clients with help on some of their most crucially strategic tasks.
Having just entered its second operational year, SkillPatron now has a turnover of well over a million US dollars with more than 500 enterprise clients & organizations including big names such as the United Nations, Vlisco, Samsung Nigeria, Krispy Kreme, Kodak Nigeria, Mitsubishi, Dominoes, Kuda Bank, Jumia Nigeria, iRokoTV, Uber, Wakanow, Filmhouse Cinemas, RenMoney, PiggyVest, Afrinvest, Enyo Oil, Chikki Foods, Cars45, several major banks, online betting companies and major cinema outlets in Nigeria to name a few.
We won’t be surprised if SkillPatron still gets a featured spot on our next top list of hottest African startups to watch in the next 12 months.
This is the first time a startup from Mali makes our list of the hottest African startups to watch in 2020. OKO aka OKO Finance was founded in 2017, OKO Finance develops affordable mobile-based crop insurance products to provide small holder farmers and horticulturalists with the financial security they need, regardless of unstable weather/climate trends.
This African startup raised a pre-seed funding of US$300,000; but is now looking to raise US$1.5 million in order to grow more quickly. We are strongly confident they’ll get the backing as we look forward to seeing them scale their solution to more farmers and additional markets in the year 2020.
In this year’s top list of hottest African startups to watch in 2020 we’re really excited about Senegalese startup Yobante Express. This African startup has developed an innovative relay-based way of tackling last-mile deliveries and was founded in November 2018 as an online marketplace that connects local couriers with local commerce including combining the gig economy and machine learning to optimise domestic, inter-state cross-border and last mile deliveries. At the moment this African startup is delivering over 8,000 parcels and generating more than US$50,000 every month. It's worthy of note that this African startup expanded to South Africa in November 2019 and we have a feeling this startup will be pan-African before long.
For so many reasons Egyptian trucking marketplace Trella is our first rising star of 2019, having raised more than US$600,000 in a pre-seed funding round in addition to being selected for the Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y Combinator whilst concluding the year by acquiring their closest local competitor Trukt.
Only founded last year Trella already operates a B2B trucking marketplace which connects shippers with carriers in real-time, with the goal of making the entire supply chain considerably faster and more reliable while reducing slack and exceptions.
For Trella this year’s list of successes comes from a team that told Startup Influencer they are taking growth “step-by-step”, and not making any hasty moves – so we’re eagerly anticipating the next set of well-planned moves the African startup makes.
This next African startup on our top list is also from Egypt as we’re betting fantasy sports platform Eksab will keep up its winning streak in 2020.
At the moment Eksab is looking to tap into the MENA region’s love for football by providing users with exciting and engaging mobile social betting games with the aim of becoming the leading fantasy sports site in the region.
This African startup in its first year processed more than five million predictions in addition to securing a six-figure seed investment from 500 Startups to help it scale its software product across the region.
In view of this solid start to this African startup’s growth plans we’ll be keeping a keen close eye on Eksab over the coming months.
Kaoun is an African fintech startup from Tunisia tackling the epic question of financial inclusion. The African startup’s first product called Flouci is a mobile and web app that allows users to create free bank accounts remotely; facilitating the process through an innovative Know Your Customer (KYC) system via smartphone.
Like in Silicon Valley - critical component to any startup’s success, the team behind Kaoun is top-notch: co-founders Nebras Jemel, Anis Kallel, and Rostom Bouazizi put their studies in the United States – at Harvard University, University of Rochester, and Columbia University respectively – on hold to come back to Tunisia and build a fintech startup.
This African startup launched in 2018 and has already raised funding from two angel investors,and secured key partnerships with two major Tunisian banks and the country’s National Digital Certification Agency. By all yardsticks this African startup is definitely worth watching.
This African fintech startup from Rwanda has just had an exciting year in particular in that it has been busy honing its pitch to perfection.
It is already common knowledge that this African fintech startup from Rwanda is doing a great job with forging the saving culture of traditional saving communities to come online in an effort to ease saving processes by helping low income communities become more financially secure.
In February 2019 This African startup was one of 10 African startups selected to pitch live to an audience of over 600 attendees at the annual Africa Startup Summit held in Kigali carefully picked from more than 100 applicants from around the continent.
The African startup was also named winner of Seedstars’ Rwandan event in 2019 securing it a place in the global final at which Exuus will pitch for up to US$500,000 in equity investment. We have no doubt they will stand a good chance of coming out on top of the contest.
MPost launched in 2015 it has taken this African startup quite a while to get going until recently things have really begun to hit an upward stride quickly.
Robust and effective this African startup has developed a platform that enables the conversion of mobile numbers into official virtual addresses which also allows notifications to be sent to clients whenever they get mail through their postal addresses.
This African startup participated in the Startupbootcamp AfriTech programme held in Cape Town in the fall of 2018 and has ever since raised about US$1.9 million in Series A funding rounds to bolster finance its expansion and further development of its proprietary platform.
Stay tuned as we’ll be keeping our ears glued to the ground for more news from this exciting African startup.
We'll be doing some conjuring here taking motorbike taxis along with affordable emergency response and then add on blockchain: You hodgepodge these together with a bucket of innovation and you get RideSafe.
This African startup from Kenya offers an emergency response service for public motorcycle taxis.cabbies which utilise a micro-insurance financing model running on a decentralised blockchain application.
This African startup has had quite a good year having raised US$100,000 in pre-seed funding from æternity Ventures after taking part in the Bulgaria-based æternity Starfleet Incubator for blockchain startup in addition to being selected to pitch at the African Startup Summit in Rwanda in February 2020.
Keep your fingers crossed on this as we’ll be seeing big things from this African startup in 2020.
As one of the hottest african startups in the southern tip of Africa it’s noteworthy to see how FlexClub fares in 2020, after a solid start since launching last year.
This African startup from South Africa allows users to purchase vehicles which are then matched with Uber drivers who pay a weekly rental charge to the investor.
This African startup has a solid founding team including two former Uber employees. At the time of this post this African startup has raised US$1.2 million in a seed round led by CRE Venture Capital and also featuring Montegray Capital, & Savannah Fund in the first quarter of 2019 amidst plans to grow its team and expand into new geographies.
African Regtech startup Intergreatme can be credited as one of the first crowdfunding successes of Southern Africa after securing a whirlwind ZAR32.436 million (US$2.19 million) from 406 investors via the Uprise.Africa platform in May of 2019. Within six days it had already raised ZAR28.5 million (US$1.98m), with the Africamstartup limiting the raise to ZAR32 million which it managed in 2 weeks. This monumental raise was marred slightly by the fact the African startup later decided to reject a bulk of it after some investors failed compliance processes.
Even at that the fact still stands that the startup is an attractive proposition, however and the tech world gets what all the hype is about. Intergreatme has developed a web and app platform that digitises verified personal information for over 25 million credit-active South Africans for streamlined use across businesses and other organisations.
We can’t wait to see what the African startup does next, as we’re sure 2020 is going to be an immense year for this African startup.
Unsurprisingly African Insurtech startup Pineapple is the third South African venture to make our watch list of hottest African startups to watch in 2020.
Established in the second quarter of 2017 Pineapple allows users to get quotes and insurance on items with just the snap of a picture.
This incredible African startup has been going from strength to strength since launching and raising seed funding as well as taking part in Google’s Launchpad Africa accelerator and the US-based Hartford Insurtech Hub’s accelerator.
Then it so happened that in 2019 this African startup won the single biggest prize at the annual VentureClash challenge in the United States (US), securing US$1.5 million from a US$5 million prize fund. Without a doubt with the milestones rolling in, we’re sure 2020 will be a stellar year for this startup.
There you have it! Our top list of hottest African startups to watch in 2020.
Startup Influencer: Top Founders and stories of success.