Even though this year’s edition of Africa’s largest startup event DEMO Africa has come and gone, memories of the impressive event still lingers on in my mind. I’m not just talking about the beautiful DEMO Africa stage, the impressive turnout of foreign investors or the new venue. In addition to these and many more, I still find myself thinking of the numerous impressive startups that pitched this year – they are the major reason why I said African startups now mean business.
My List of Top Startups at DEMO Africa 2015
This list is in no particular order and they got my attention because of the interesting market demand for them, peculiarities, ability to easy scale beyond their local market and global potential.
One of the startups that I saw at DEMO Africa is Bozza which is being pitched as Africa’s marketplace for the next generation of African talent selling directly to anyone on a connected device.
With approximately 60% of Africans under age 25; a deep culture of music and storytelling; and broad-scale, rising economic prosperity, young Africans represent one of the most promising consumer markets for entertainment today. The size of the formal Film, Music and Television industry across just Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa is over billion. Bozza allows for any musician, filmmaker, poet across Africa the ability to self publish and sell directly to their audience, globally. Currently Bozza covers over 3000 mobile devices and desktops.
Another interesting startup that pitched at DEMO Africa this year is Shield Finance which leverages on mobile money to offer unbanked staff affordable salary advances on phones.
The FinTech company uses proprietary technology while leveraging on mobile money to offer under banked employees affordable salary advances directly to their mobile phones.
Shield Finance targets about 3 million Kenyans in the formal sector employees, generating revenue on interest charged on salary advances. The company has a Pan Africa strategy. In their pitch at DEMO Africa 2015, the Shield Finance team said they were looking to raise US $215,000.
The third DEMO Africa 2015 startup that caught my attention is focusing on energy – if you live in Nigeria, a country where energy is still is still a major issue, you will be attentive and inquisitive when you hear of a startup that is focusing on tackling Africa’s energy problems. Moreover, the South African startup recently secured US$1 million funding.
The startup referred to as LiGE pitched their product,Eco-mc2, which is an alternative solution to conventional battery storage and can store energy that has been harnessed from renewable sources. This new stride in both technology and energy landed the local electrical storage solutions provider Leaper Innovate Green Energies (LIGE) an award, the 2015 World Wildlife Federation Climate Solver award for its Eco-mc2 compressed air energy storage technology.
Patents in South Africa and off and running with a 5 year contract for 90 storage systems per month – LiGE is now ready for substantial investment into manufacturing the Eco-mc2 Storage Systems from 40KWh to many MWh Systems. This contract translates to more than USD200 million. Needless to say the startup is on a league of its own.
InsureAfrika.com is another impressive startup. So impressive but still didn’t surprise me. It made the cut as one of the top five startups at DEMO Africa. It will be pitching at Silicon Valley in USA. From its name, the startup is into insurance for Africa. The platform enables users to compare insurance quotes across insurance categories.
The online comparison platform enables users to compare insurance quotes across insurance categories. For example, car insurance, health insurance, travel insurance etc. from leading insurance providers in Kenya. During their pitch at DEMO Africa 2015, Gagan Hayer of InsureAfrika.com said that the company was looking for investors to bring in USD 1 million.
InsureAfrika.com allows users to see quotes within seconds by filling a simple form. Users can also select the quotes they prefer with a simple click of a button. Insurance providers then get in touch with the consumers to close the deal.
The startup founder noted that intermediaries drive the insurance sector in Kenya. They don’t pass accurate information to both consumers and the companies. And thereby disconnecting consumers from the insurance companies.
“Insurance sector in Kenya is targeting KShs 250 billion in premium revenues in 2015 and is growing at a very rapid pace. The commissions payable to intermediaries is 10-15% of the total premiums. This coupled with the growing marketing budgets for online medium, is the total market size that InsureAfrika.com can potentially tap into,” he said.
Ghana’s Flippy Campus
I will mention the fifth startup that got my attention at DEMO Africa. But before that I will like to give a bonus – a startup that is also worthy of mention. DEMO Africa 2015 saw the debut of a startup that call itself the continent’s first childcare technology company. It aims to become the leading provider of childcare technology services in developing economies.
The team said they are working to deliver peace of mind to eliminate childcare concerns for parents. Pitching at DEMO Africa 2015, was Molawi Adesuyi, founder of the company. He said that mytoddler is out to make the lives of parents easier. The company is looking for USD 150K to sky-rocket their business.
The fifth African startup that got my attention at DEMO Africa 2015 is Ghana’s Flippy Campus. Interestingly (but not surprisingly), it was the first startup that became a part of Demo Africa 2015 in Lagos, Nigeria.
Flippy is a social application that improves campus experience by keeping students up to date on current campus happenings. On Flippy, students can get to know other people on their campus, department and halls. They can also discover trending hot topics as well as events happening on campus.
The startup won ‘A Tale of Ten Startups’ and went on to shine on the DEMO stage. This is where the founders asked for USD500,000.
As the curtains were drawn on DEMO Africa 2015, I asked myself whether any of the startups could get the sum of money they asked for on DEMO Africa 2015 stage. A pessimistic voice in my head said no. But then I remembered the golden advise that the Candace Johnson gave to continent’s startups. He is the President of the European Business Angels Network (EBAN).
She said, “To all entrepreneurs: don’t forget to think big!”
Tags: Demo Africa, digital marketing, startups