Meet the CEO and Co-founder of BitPesa, Elizabeth Rossiello. Elizabeth has lived and worked in Kenya since 2009 and knows financial services from the Mara to the Board room. BitPesa is a Pan-African FinTech Start-up that offers fast, efficient, and low-cost B2B payments to and from African bank accounts and mobile money wallets. BitPesa has operations in six African companies in East, Central and West Africa and a license from the FCA in the UK. BitPesa was the first company in Africa to offer digital FX brokerage and is the largest market-maker in the sector for African currencies. With offices in Nairobi, Lagos, Dakar and London - they have local teams that understand the difficulties of making payments to and from the region. They work with brokers around the global, settling in real-time between Africa and Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia.
On This Episode You'll Learn:
What’s the cost of operating in Nairobi relative to Lagos or cape town?
How does BitPesa simplify B2B payments across the African Continent?
What does the seed funding landscape look like in Nairobi?
What’s the criteria for launching a new African country?
Meet E Aboyeji, co-founder of Flutterwave. E considers himself an impact entrepreneur who is passionate about building the future of Africa. Over the last seven years he has been a youth activist at the United Nations, President of a student owned media company and a serial entrepreneur who has started, grown and sold angel and venture backed companies in the impact entrepreneurship space. He also contributes significantly to several efforts to build sustainable impact enterprises by bringing together financial, social, political and human capital together to support other impact entrepreneurs as an Entrepreneur, Angel Investor and Advisor. In May 2016 E founded Flutterwave. Flutterwave is one simple API for processing payments across card, bank account and mobile money platforms in over thirty African countries. Flutterwave has processed over $20 million in transactions to date for clients that include Paystack, Page Microfinance Bank, and Access Bank. The founding team has several years of experience working at global technology companies like Google Wallet, Andela and PayPal as well as several African Commercial and Central Banks. Flutterwave is a US company, headquartered in San Francisco, California.
On This Episode You'll learn:
What was it like meeting Mark Zuckerberg and what in particular interested him about Andela?
What does E see as the best role for African governments to play in allocating public resources to further catalyze innovation?
When founding Flutterwave E mentioned how it was a solution for major challenges you witnessed building Andela. Walk us through your experience going through those problems.
Through E’s work with Flutterwave, what does he see as the future for blockchain and bitcoin to play in the African economy?
Meet Akin Sawyerr the founder and Managing Director of Feleman, an impact investment and advisory firm. Akin invests in and mentors young organizations, and uses his network to unlock value in marginalized communities. He started the company over 2 years ago to leverage the knowledge and experience he gained in the developed world to solve problems in emerging markets. He's also a Co-Founder of Market Atlas which provides a way to conduct market, investment, and country research in Frontier Markets. Prior to his entrepreneurial adventure, Akin spent over fifteen years in management consulting and corporate America. He's worked for two global consulting firms, and 4 fortune 500 companies. His career started working for the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C.
On This Episode You'll Learn:
What’s Akin’s definition of impact investing and on a macro level why has it recently increased over the past few years in Africa?
What are Akin’s thoughts on how mobile payments will play out across the African continent?
Where does Akin see the infrastructure of bitcoin and the blockchain as a whole fitting into Africa’s development?
A lot of the conversation when it comes to innovation is around fintech and companies like Interswitch Limited in Nigeria or MPesa in Kenya, where else does Akin see opportunity?
Meet Chris Folayan, co-founder and CEO of MallforAfrica. Chris has over 20 years of experience in C level roles in marketing, technology development, and acquisition roles in various USA based High-Tech companies, and startups. Prior to developing the MallforAfrica app and platform Chris was the Founder and CEO of OCFX Inc. a globally recognized, award winning Software and Web Design Agency serving clients such as SONY, LSI, Cisco, HP, EPSON, TYCO, US Government, Visa, BestBuy, CapitalOne Finance, EMC and many other companies. Chris managed global relations with clients in over 50 countries and multi-million dollar projects. He graduated from San Jose State University in the heart of the Silicon valley with a BA in Marketing.
On This Episode You'll Learn:
What were the problems Chris was solving that was preventing Western Brands from selling into Africa?
When considering expansions into other markets in Africa, what does Chris find to be the biggest challenges?
Chris has said that “The American or British marketing plans will not work in Africa. You need an African marketing plan.” What does he mean by that?
Where does Chris see the future of technology integrating with brick and mortar retail in Africa?
Meet Eric Osiakwan, entrepreneur and investor in Africa's tech scene. Eric has worked in 32 African countries establishing, businesses, ISPs, ISPAs, and IXPs. Some of these companies include Angel Africa, Angel Fair Africa , Ghana Cyber City, PenPlusBytes, African Elections Portal, FOSSFA, WABco, GISPA, AfrISPA, GNVC, Internet Research, InHand, and Ghana Connect. He also serves on the board of Farmerline, Forhey, Teranga Solutions, Siqueries, Amp.it, SameLogic, eCampus, Bisa App, SeeSayDo and Wanjo Foods, - some of which are his investments. He is a fellow of TED Global, Poptech, The University of Maryland and Stanford University. He is also an affiliate of Media Lab, MIT and visiting fellow at the Berkman Center, and Harvard University.
On this episode you'll learn:
What stage does Chris like to get involved in and what geographies does he focus on?
What is the level of collaboration between the KINGS country's and where does Eric see improvement?
What industry over the next 10 years does Eric see producing the first truly global African Technology company?
Where and when did Africa’s innovation boom start?
Julia Römer is theCTO and co-founder of Coolar. She initiated the Berlin based startup Coolar in 2014 and has since focused on developing the technology on which the Coolar cooling system is based. Previously she developed patents for components that enable comparable cooling systems for industrial applications. Coolar develops a new cooling system for household fridges and many other applications which is powered by solar thermal energy and operates independent from electricity. Coolar enables reliable cooling for people without access to stable electricity. The eco-friendly startup won the second prize at Darboven Idee – the most prestigious award for women with promising business concepts and pioneering business ideas. Coolar also won Chivas' "The Venture". According to jury chairman Frank Thelen, the jury decided in favor of Coolar because "it has truly innovative technology and has a strong social impact".
On this episode you'll learn:
When pitching VC’s how does Julia approach pitching the social good component of Coolar vs. the broader clean energy market opportunity?
What’s the current investment landscape for hardware in Germany compared to software?
Why has Germany developed such a robust Clean tech startup scene?
What’s the cost of operating in Berlin compared to surrounding European cities?
Kristel Kruustük founded Testlio in November 2012. Testlio is a community of verified mobile testers with a platform that integrates into your team’s development process. Testlio takes a quality versus quantity approach when it comes to both testers and prioritizing issues, resulting in faster development cycles and improved apps.
On this episode you'll learn:
What is Kristel's thoughts on the mantra of move fast and break things?
What’s the right balance of getting new features and iterations out into the market vs. ensuring quality of your code before shipping?
What are the most important skills founders should look for when hiring a QA tester?
What does Kristel attribute as the most important catalyst for Estonia’s development into a top European tech hub?
With companies such as Testlio, TransferWise, and Skype coming up through Estonia, why has Estonia turned into an innovation hub within Europe?
Mark Sears is the CEO and founder of cloud factory. After doing tech startups in Canada and the US for about 10 years, Mark has spent the last 4 years living in Nepal and using his unique blend of technology and business experience to develop CloudFactory towards creating work for 1 million people. He started his career as a software developer with Sun Microsystems before finding his groove in the world of startups. Moving into technology evangelism and product management roles he helped a 5 person startup grow to 130 employees across 4 international offices after raising $48 million in venture capital. Mark then raised angel investment, launched and managed his own startup company for 6 years before coming to Nepal and starting the CloudFactory adventure.
On this episode you'll learn:
What lessons did Mark learn and what will he do differently when approaching his Series B round?
How should businesses approach navigate the “on-demand economy” amongst the trend of crowdsourcing, outsourcing and the mass proliferation of freelancers?
How will the forces of AI and globalization impact businesses and workers?
How has Kathmandu’s startup scene developed over the years since Mark founded CloudFactory?
Basit Mustafa is the CEO and Founder of Voltaire. Voltaire is a startup that helps pick winning juries with actionable information delivered into the courtroom on-demand. Basit and his team went through Telluride's Venture Accelerator and is headquartered in Telluride, Colorado. On this episode you'll learn: Why is there a divergence between the advancement of tech and the lacking progression of the legal space? What advantages as an entrepreneur does Basit feel being in Telluride gives him? How does sales in the legal industry compare to when he ran a multi-million dollar sales operations for IBM? Being an ultra-marathoner and avid skier, what tips can Basit give from a health and wellness perspective to entrepreneurs in order to promote peak performance?
Jake Hare is the Founder & CEO of Launchpeer, an app development agency focused on growing startups in the Southeast. Since founding Launchpeer in 2014, Jake has grown his team to 15 people and has worked with dozens of startups, 74% of which went on to raise funding. Launchpeer will be launching their own accelerator this spring. On this episode you'll learn: What has Jake found to be the biggest challenge in scaling a client service model? How does Jake look to differentiate his accelerator program and what advice would he give to early stage entrepreneurs looking for the right program for their startup? What is the Charleston Digital Corridor? What does Jake find to be the most common obstacle early stage the entrepreneurs he works with face?
Almaz Negash is the founder of the African Diaspora Network, whose mission is to harness and engage the intellectual, financial, philanthropic and entrepreneurial capacity of Africans and friends of Africa in support of economic and social development across Africa. Since 2010, the African Diaspora Network (ADN) has energized collaboration among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, philanthropists and African diasporans to uplift its local community towards the benefit of Africa. ADN is dedicated to providing virtual and physical forums to accelerate access to resources that foster partnership, knowledge sharing, and advance investment opportunities. For the last two decades, Almaz has sought to improve the quality of life of communities through local and global partnerships and by advocating policy change and crafting new social programs to provide individuals with needed resources to elevate their status. On this episode you'll learn: What are some of the biggest challenge Africa faces in terms of economic development over the coming years? A lot of emerging markets are trying to engage their Diaspora’s to ignite growth in the developing information age. What has Almaz seen to be the best way to go about this? What areas does Almaz see as the biggest opportunities in African tech?
Praveen Velu is Cofounder of Mimetic.ai, an artificially intelligent personal assistant that schedules meetings. Mimetic is based out of Singapore and one of the city's fastest growing AI startups. Previously, Praveen was head of business and network development in Singapore for both Disney's Maker Studios and Yahoo! On this episode you'll learn: What developments in AI over the past years has sparked the recent growth in AI-focused funds and AI startups? Does the incumbency advantage of Google, Amazon, and Microsoft and their massive datasets concern Praveen? Praveen started working for Yahoo! in Singapore in 2011, how has the tech scene in Singapore evolved since then? How many years until a majority of interfaces are conversational as opposed to the traditional UI?
Mat Dellorso is Cofounder and Chief Strategy Officer for Wealthforge where he leads company strategy and growth and is a frequent industry speaker on how WealthForge is powering the future of private capital markets. On this episode you'll learn: How has the Fintech startup ecosystem in the US evolved compared to consumer facing Finch What was the biggest challenge in solving the chicken and egg problem in the early days? How the startup community in Richmond has evolved over the past few years? What are some of the largest regulatory challenges in the Fintech space?
iBillionaire was founded by Raul Moreno and Alejandro Estrada in 2013 as an app that tracks the investment strategies of the world’s top billionaires. The information on the holdings of Wall Street magnates like Carl Icahn and Warren Buffett was not only hard for the average investor to compile and understand, but also difficult to gain access. iBillionaire harnessed this information and introduced the iBillionaire Index (NYSE:BILLION), which curates the 30 U.S. equities in which a select pool of billionaires have allocated the most assets. On this episode you'll learn: How does he approach user acquisition strategy and is it different in Asia than in the US? What are the most common investment habits of the billionaires on the platform? What are the biggest challenges Argentina tech scene is facing? Raul's most important lesson learned during his time going through 500 Startups.
In 2008, Michael Oluwagbemi co-founded LoftyInc Allied Partners Limited, a business and project development firm that focuses on start-up and early stage ventures in Lagos, Nigeria. Michael's deep involvement with start-ups have seen him participating in seeding more than half a dozen start-ups in West Africa. He is also co-founder of the Wennovation Hub; a Lagos based accelerator, and chairman of the board for Afrilabs; a pan-African network of 40 technology innovation hubs across 20 African countries. On this episode you'll learn: What role does he believe the Nigerian government should play in promoting innovation. What are common challenges West African entrepreneur face when scaling their startup? In what industries are there big opportunities for entrepreneurs in West Africa? What is the current balance of opportunity vs. talent in Nigeria?
Olatorera Oniru is CEO and Founder of Dressmeoutlet.com, where she leads initiatives to realize a pinnacle in Africa’s history with innovation from natural resources and citizenry capabilities. Dressmeoutlet.com is Nigeria's foremost retailer for high-quality fashion products, health & beauty products and home-goods. Olatorera previously worked for two Fortune Top 5 companies: Bank of America Merrill Lynch and General Electric. On this episode you'll learn: How does DressMeOutlet look to differentiate itself in Africa as a leading fashion retailer? What needs to happen in Lagos to catalyze more entrepreneurship? What does the next 5 years look like for Olatorera and for DressMeOutlet?
Jacob Korenblum is the President & CEO of Souktel where he leads a growing team, building on his past experience as managing economic development and emergency relief projects for the US Agency for International Development and the Canadian International Development Agency. He is a frequent panelist on technology and development--with speaking engagements ranging from the GSMA Mobile World Congress to the World Bank Human Development Forum. On this episode you'll learn: What are the biggest challenges in building mobile solutions for the middle east? Does Jacob find consistency in implementation across developing markets or do solutions need to be hyper focused for each country? What’s going well in the Palestine startup scene?
Idriss is cofounder and CEO of Fetchr. Based out of Dubai, Fetchr solves the logistical problem of the lack of physical addresses in the middle east and developing markets. This past year Fetchr closed an $11m round lead by New Enterprise Associates.
On this episode you'll learn:
What made logistics in developing markets so hard? How does Fetchr solve this problem?
What are the biggest challenges in the ecommerce space in Dubai?
How does Idriss address Silicon Valley VC's concerned about the geopolitical climate risk in Fetchr's markets?
How far away is Dubai from becoming a self-sustaining startup ecosystem?
Ryan Broshar is the founder and managing director of Matchstick Ventures, a Minnesota-based venture capital firm, where he focuses on early-stage technology companies. He has also served as Managing Director for Techstar’s Minneapolis-based retail accelerator. In partnership with Target, the accelerator is a three-month intensive startup accelerator focused on bringing new technology, experiences, products, and solutions to retail. On this episode you’ll learn: What should startups be looking for in an early stage VC and how can a founder filter out the ones that are truly early stage? How does Ryan look to differentiate Matchstick in a sea of seed-funds? What are the most important traits Ryan looks for in early-stage teams? Ryan has said that partnerships are incredibly important for startups playing in the retail space, but why? What makes retail so different than other industries?
Amanda Slavin is CEO and Founder of CatalystCreativ an experience studio that helps brands engage millennials through inspirational on and offline experiences, strategy, consulting and implementation. Formed in 2012 in partnership with Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project, CatalystCreativ helps individuals, brands, and movements come together to create a ripple of impact. Amanda has also founded Catalyst Week and Creativ Week, a monthly educational immersive experiences of carefully selected influencers that act as a lens into Las Vegas’ Downtown Project for people all over the world. On this episode you’ll learn: Amanda’s first encounter with Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh and what was his interest in investing in Las Vegas? Why are branding and experiences, as opposed to sales, so important to focus on when trying to reach a millennial consumer base? What are some of the most common mistakes brands make when targeting millennials and Gen X?
Jesse Johnson is the Director of the TVA. He co-founded and was CEO of Q Collection, a leading sustainable design company (now a part of Twill Textiles). He has been involved as a mentor and investor in several startup businesses and served on the board of two companies sold to a Fortune 50 company. He serves on the board of 1% For The Planet, Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment, Harvard’s Center for Health and the Global Environment and several others. On this episode you'll learn: What is different about running a social impact fund, how does Jesse go about prioritizing social impact vs. returns for their LP’s? When starting the Telluride Venture Fund, How did Jesse approach the team building aspect? Realistically how big can a company get before they need to open a office outside of Telluride?
Peter is CEO and founder of Hyperscience, a startup leveraging AI to automate enterprise scale data analysis. Hyper science has raised capital from the likes of Slow Ventures, Firstmark capital, and SV angels. Peter’s previous company Instinctive was acquired by Soundcloud in 2012. On this episode we discuss Peter's biggest lesson learned going from Instinctiv’s founding to acquisition What does artificial intelligence encompass? How is it different than machine learning and deep learning? How will AI startups interact with corporation also investing in AI research?
Eduard Emiryan is a cofounder at Amber Lamps, one of Armenia's leading mobile development shops. Amber Lamps products include apps such as Runtime and Lucid Dreams. On this episode you'll learn: how the culture has shifted in Armenia towards entrepreneurship, if entrepreneurship is just a young person's game, and how much capital is available to young startups in Armenia.
Brett Hagler is the CEO and Co-Founder of New Story - an innovative nonprofit that transforms slums into sustainable communities around the world. Brett is a cancer survivor, author, speaker, Y Combinator alum, and 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneur. After reviving a lost Christian faith, Brett took a trip to Haiti and met families living in the type of slums that New Story is now on a mission to transform into sustainable communities. On this episode you'll learn: the inspiration and story behind New Story, what it's like to run a nonprofit in Silicon Valley, and how New Story promotes entrepreneurship in communities.
Trafi is the world's smartest public transport journey planner based on machine learning, crowd-sourced data and self-learning algorithms helping to provide the highest quality product across competition. This past year, Trafi closed a $6.5 million Series A round led by Octopus Investments, EBRD Venture Capital Investment Programme and BaltCap. Regimantas Urbanas is Trafi's CMO focused on scaling Trafi outside of Europe. On this episode you'll learn: Trafi's criteria in deciding what countries to expand to, the biggest differences in user acquisition channels across different countries/cultures, and the current state of entrepreneurship in Lithuania.