These Ten Ugandan Startups Have Been Selected To Pitch At This Year’s Seedstars Kampala

This Duo Is Adding A New Side To South Africa’s Credit Insurance Industry

Nayantara Jha July 16

The urban life has its unique requirements, especially when loans are involved. The insurance industry which began as a group of people covering up for uncertainties, proliferated into a USD 4600 Bn industry worldwide in 2016, in terms of underwritten premiums. The insurance industry soon became a phenomenon, and the products started to become segmented. The life insurance sector was the market’s most lucrative in 2016, with total gross written premiums of USD 2500 Bn, holding more than half of the market’s overall value. It began to hold an important place in individual financial planning.

As per a PWC report,  South African premiums (in 2014) accounted for USD 54 Bn out of the total USD 72.4 billion for Africa, representing a 1.17% world market share. Penetration levels reached 15.4%, which ranked 2nd in the world at the time, quite high even compared to advanced markets, possibly reflecting a relatively saturated market compared to the rest of Africa.

Having worked in the insurance industry for many years and with no immediate value creation for themselves, this young team set out on the road to find their purpose. It was the end of last year when Tlalane and Sokhulu decided to quit their jobs and give definite shape to their idea. Thus began Yalu, an insurance tech startup to take on a niche yet a prominent product of the insurance industry – Credit Insurance. It was an idea that often crossed this duo’s minds but was not making any headway with execution.

Headquartered at Johannesburg, Yalu attempts to solve the knowledge gap – whether a customer requires credit insurance or not. In most of the cases, as sighted by Yalu, a customer is not even aware whether the product he/she has bought includes credit. In their opinion, there is a considerable scope of savings, if a customer is unaware of the credit component in their insurance product.

Solving this knowledge gap was not a day’s job as per this startup. What they institutionalised was an insurance company that not only evaluates a customer’s need correctly but also recommends product very carefully to suit their credit insurance need.

“We’ve also made sure that consumers pay what is fair and that if they never claim from their policy, they get 10% of their premiums back,” the team cites.

What was brewing in the background…

Tlalane and Sokulu were both corporate animals, making progress in the financial sector. They experienced several moments of reflection when the realization to do something more meaningful dawned upon them.

Nkazi Sokulu was the Co-founder & COO of FNB Life, prior to Yalu. He was one-half of the duo who started the life insurance company within the FirstRand Group (the largest banking group by asset size in Africa) and received R200 Mn in capital backing from the group to start the insurer. But this did not please Nkazi much.

Sokulu often evaluated his journey and thought to himself, “I wanted to live up to who I am, and solve a real business problem.”

Tlalane had her inkling for starting up; she says, “It is very easy to get lost in the corporate system, and with the red tapes, it was all the more difficult to bring about any difference.”

Before Yalu, Tlalane Ntuli was the Head of Growth (Sales & Marketing) on the FNB Life Executive Committee. Her responsibilities included sales, retentions and marketing of all FNB Life’s products.

The idea of Yalu came during a lunch break, where both partners wanted to think and create a product/service which would give more mileage to the insurance industry customers. They knew that a lot of customers were not even aware whether the gap existed.

In South Africa, credit insurance products can be both voluntary and compulsory. Few credit providers insist on having a mandatory credit life insurance. As per Yalu’s research, close to 90% customers did not know that they pay for credit life insurance product where it is voluntary.

A great partnership is the first step to start a great business

Tlalane and Sokulu are firm believers of healthy partnerships for running businesses. Both individuals unanimously agree that the entrepreneurial journey becomes easier when you work with people you can trust.

Sokulu, comments here and adds, “ I have worked with people who have impressed me with their knowledge, at times intimidated me with their insane intelligence. But I knew, I had to work with someone I could trust.”

Nkazi remembers the days when his startup was running out of cash, and immediate funding was not on the horizon. “This was probably the most stressful period of this journey for us, we were anxious about how we would get through the next month of existence, and how we would honour our obligations but most importantly continue to move forward,” the duo said. “These are the days when you know that people you work with are the most crucial component of your startup. It is very fortunate to work with partners who have your back.”

Tlalane adds here, “It is also very important to get various skills to the table.” For the most of her career, she has worked in branding and sales vertical of the insurance industry. Whereas, Nkazi has handled many profiles of the same industry, with a primary focus on operations.

Tlalane adds here, “He is the head, I am the heart of Yalu.”

Determining the next steps…

The partners are clear that in the long run, they need to do more than solving just the credit life insurance problems, but their immediate goal is to set up a platform that gets their customers the right product.

Quitting their jobs last December afforded them enough time to draft the idea of Yalu. Bootstrapped since it started seven months ago, the startup found an investor who had interests in the same problem that they have set out to solve. The team got an infusion of seed funds from PIC in May, after an intense a process of acquiring this capital.

Many hold misconceptions about Yalu as being an agent, but it is an insurance company. It has partnered with Old Mutual and honors the license requirement for rolling out the insurance products through this partnership. In addition to the above regulatory need, it has also procured the Financial Service Provider license.

So, the story for this young team has just started, with ten members taking care of the entire business. Currently, they rely on digital marketing to promote their products as it is a challenge for them to break the clutter of heavily-advertised campaigns of the bigger players. What they feel is the most important step for them, is to educate their customers about the presence of a need in the first place. The team is focused on stabilizing their UX and platform for customer on-boarding. Covering personal loans at the moment, they soon want to branch out to other credit products like student loans and credit cards.

5 Ways To Gain Brand Exposure On Social Media

Are you gaining enough brand exposure on social media? Do you know that you can achieve maximum exposure on social media if you are equipped with the right tips and insights?

 

It is not enough to be on social media; your audience needs to constantly engage with your brand and you also have to reach more people you were not able to reach before now.

The more brand exposure you have, the more leads you are likely to generate. If customers are not aware of your brand, how would they buy from you?

Credit: Giphy

Most times, lack of quality and accurate information hinder people from gaining the right exposure on social media. In this article, we will equip you with 5 ways you can easily do so.

  1. Dish out valuable content: Your content has to offer value; this is when people would be compelled to follow you and even share your content with their friends and families. Your content has to have the right impact on your audience. Your content should be educative, informative, or entertaining. Once your audience sense value in your content, then they would be motivated to share your content with others, and as they share the content, you begin to gain more brand exposure.
  2. Advertise: One of the easiest ways to gain more brand exposure on social media is by advertising. When you advertise, your brand reaches more people beyond those people who are currently following you online. For instance, with Facebook and Instagram Ads, you can specify the kind of people who should see your adverts.
  3. Build your community: Don’t just build your community, you need to interact with them regularly. Communicating with your community would foster the right relationship with your community, and you get to understand them better and even serve them better. In addition, once your community understands you better, it is easier for them to recommend your brand to their friends and families.
  4. Be consistent: For you to stay relevant on social media, you have to be consistent; you have to keep showing up. Consistency would help you get seen your target audience on a daily basis, and they would not forget your brand among the sea of many competing brands available online.
  5. Have a consistent branding across all channels: Once you maintain a consistent form of branding across all social media platforms that your brand is present on, you are able to catch the attention of your target audience. It is easy for your customers to recognize a consistent brand than an inconsistent brand. Make your tone, colors, typography, and other brand elements consistent.

What ways are you ensuring the right brand exposure in your startup? Do drop your comments below!

Danish Startup Spektral Gets Acquired By Apple, Finnish Startup Varjo Raises USD 31 Mn In Series B And More..

Team WeeTracker October 15

Here is the snapshot of last week’s biggest news from the startup ecosystem from around the globe [ 08-12 October 2018]

EUROPE

Apple acquired Danish visual effects startup Spektral for USD 30 M. The deal was closed at the 2017 but disclosed only now.

Fashion chain H&M acquired stake worth USD 20 Mn in Sweden based fintech startup Klarna’s. This is close to 1% stake in the Swedish company.

Finland based Varjo, a reality tech startup, announced USD 31 M Series B round led by Atomico, and participation from Next47, EQT Ventures, and Lifeline Ventures.

Swedish startup Artificial Solutions landed USD 15.7 M. This will be used to develop its Teneo platform further.

CRM platform Pipedrive secured additional USD 10 M Series C funding, which brings the round total to USD 60 M. The funds were raised from Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners (DTCP).

 

USA

Allbirds, a sneaker startup, entered the unicorn club with fresh USD 50 M Series C funding from Fidelity Investments and Tiger Global Management.

Berkeley based baby food startup Once Upon a Farm closed USD 20 M Series B round led by CAVU Venture Partners.

San Francisco based Netlify secured USD 30 M Series B funding led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Slack and Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield.

AllTrails, a startup for hiking enthusiasts saw USD 75 M investment. This was the company’s first fundraising round and the control has been acquired by Spectrum Equity.

San Diego based e-commerce and payment solutions startup Zebit Inc. raised a USD 75 M debt. Route 66 Ventures was the lead investor.

ASIA

TabSquare, a Singapore-based provider of AI-powered in-restaurant solutions, today announced it has raised USD 7.2 M in series B financing led by Japanese comparison shopping website operator Kakaku.com.

Singapore based HealthX Capital has launched a USD 25 M healthcare focused early stage fund. It would be investing in Pre-series A funds and series A startups in Southeast Asia and South Asia, with check sizes ranging from USD 500K to 3 M.

Indonesia’s ecommerce furniture and home appliances startup Dekoruma has raised series B funding of “several million dollars.” The investment was led by Global Digital Niaga and AddVentures.

Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur-based venture capital firm Gobi Partners has teamedup with Core Capital, a new Philippine-based VC firm, to launch a USD 10-million fund that seeks to support seed-stage and pre-Series A startups in the Philippines.

Indonesian coworking startup GoWork has landed USD 10 Mn in a series A round of funding. The new capital is led by VC firm Gobi Partners and The Paradise Group.

Singapore-based mixed martial arts promoter One Championship has raisedtotal capital of USD 100 M following new deals with two major investors. The round was led by Sequoia Capital.

India’s foodtech giant Zomato has signed an agreement to raise a USD 210 Mn from Alibaba’s payment afiiliate Alipay Singapore.

Online logistics marketplace BlackBuck has picked up USD 23 Mn, in a venture debt funding from Innov Capital. This has come within six months of raising USD 70 M in a Series C round.

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10 Ways To Use Social Media To Promote Your In-store Company

Social media is a useful tool for brand awareness, brand visibility, lead generation, increased sales, and so on. As a retailer with an in-store location, social media is an effective tool to help drive people to your store.

 

Credit: Giphy

 

 

Here are some ways you can use social as a retailer:

  1. Offer coupons and discounts for in-store purchases: Make it known to your customers that they can gain more by shopping physically in your store. This can encourage them even to bring their friends along and have the opportunity to find out about other items you sell.
  2. Offer free Wi-Fi: One of the easiest ways to attract people to your store is by offering them something they can get from you when they purchase from you online. When you offer something like free Wi-Fi, you have the opportunity to bring more people into your store and also get more information about them such as their names and email addresses.
  3. Offer in-store contests: You can also offer in-store contests such as having customers take selfies in your store and posting them online in your store for a discount on their next purchase.
  4. Host physical events in your store: Hosting events in your store encourages people to visit your store. They get to go beyond social media and have a feel of your store and your wide range of collections.
  5. Give your customers reasons to shop in-store: Make it known to your customers that they can pick up their items in your store. Some customers would love this option because they would want to authenticate your brand and one of the ways they can do this is by visiting your brick and mortar store.
  6. Share behind-the-scenes moments: When you share captivating behind-the-scenes moments, you make your customers feel among and long to visit your store. Behind-the-scenes moments can also give your customers an idea of your brand personality.
  7. List your store on online directories: Research useful online directories and yellow pages you can list your physical store. Listing your stores on this directories can help you get more customers to visit your store.
  8. Massively promote your store online: Use your digital platforms to promote your brick and mortar store massively. Don’t forget to include your address in your bios and sometimes in your captions as well.
  9. Leverage influencer marketing: Influencer marketing is one of the ways to get your target audience interested in your products or services. Partner with an influencer who can come to your store and do videos and take pictures to get your target audience interested in coming to your store as well.
  10. Leverage referrals: Get creative and offer giveaways to customers who bring their friends or other people to shop in your store.

East Africa This Week: Startup Events Glimpses [October 8th – October 14th, 2018]

Kevin Gachiri October 15

Skills-enrichment was a dominant theme in East Africa tech space this week. With the prediction of data science becoming a core requirement for developers over the next 10 years, Outbox held a Data Science Career workshop at its Lumumba Avenue location in Kampala, Uganda.  As the name suggests, data was at the center of the session with a focus being given to career entry points into data scientist roles,  data mining and Predictions, data policy, protection and privacy as well as the launch of a mentorship program for Data Science and Web Development.

The panel speakers were Shakirah Nakalungi who is a Data Scientist with Strongminds, Nelda Limilimi who is a Data Analyst with WeFarm and Mark Okello who is the Lead and Organizer at Kampala R Users Group. The evening ended with the launch of DevCKla mentorship program over networking conversations and pizza. The event was organised by Facebook Developer Circles.

Outbox panel discussion – image source: Outbox twitter

In the evening of the same day at a different venue, The Innovation Hub together with Microsoft and Liquid Telecom held the Azure Accelerator Conference. Azure cloud solution could be deployed to provide software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) while supporting many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems. This event that was attended by close to 100 entrepreneurs exposed them to practical ways they could tap into this solution portfolio to empower their IT solutions infrastructure.

 

 

Rwanda hosted young people during this year’s Youth Connect Summit from  8th – 10th of October at the Kigali Convention Center. In attendance were 2,500 delegates from 90 countries drawn from government, the private sector, development partners and other players who work with or represent the interests of young people for social economic transformation. The technology and innovation goal of Youth Connect Summit is to nurture 5,000 digital ambassadors in each country to help connect and digitally empower 100 million Africans, allowing skills to be transferred to their local communities.  Isam Chleu who is the managing director of Suguba , mooted the “Made in Africa” clarion to become the first Pan African consumer Activism movement.

With so many lessons learned, Blanchine Mazanga who is CEO of Source Creative in Kinshasa Congo implored on participants to now engage the execution gear after learning so much. This year’s forum was hosted by the Rwanda Ministry of Youth, UNDP, African Development Fund and the African Union with partnership support from over 20 organisations.

Image credit: Sahara Sparks forum in Dar es Salaam: Image credit Sahara Sparks Facebook

South Africa This Week: Startup Events Glimpses [8th-14th October, 2018]

Nzekwe Henry October 14

Startup activity in the southern part of Africa has been on something of an upward trajectory in recent times as the entrepreneurial scene on this front seems to always be buzzing with happenings that are aimed at developing the region’s startup ecosystem. And this past week was no different as a number of events geared toward furthering the growth of the ecosystem were successfully held in parts of the region. Now, here are highlights from some of those events.

TADHack Event Held In South Africa

On Saturday, 13th October 2018, a hackathon which seeks to help people learn about the latest internet, IT, and telecoms technologies kicked off at MTN Innovation Center in Randburg, South Africa. The hackathon which was tagged TADHack drew participation from aspiring tech teams who were looking to build on their skills and expertise by improving their knowledge of how to use technology to solve some of society’s most pressing problems. The event which is expected to draw to a close today is billed to feature a number of keynote speakers, as well as presentations from a number of tech teams.

EduTech Africa Conference Took Place In South Africa

This year’s edition of the annual EduTech Conference was held between 9th to 10th October 2018, at Sandton Convention Center, in Johannesburg. In what could be considered one of Africa’s largest edtech exhibition, the event was essentially a showpiece which allowed for viewing of some of the latest offerings in the edtech space.

The year’s Edutech Conference featured seminars, a coding zone, a robotic zone, an ICT panel, a startup zone, new exhibitors, some networking, and an edtech exhibition. It also showcased interactive experience zones which allowed buyers to touch, feel, see, interact, and use live products — thus making for a social, practical, and captivating experience.

The event offered participants a chance to network with edtech professionals, meet and purchase products and solutions from leading technology suppliers, as well as discover and test some of the most innovative edtech products and solutions on the market. Edtech startups were also afforded the opportunity to advertise their offerings.

Solution Space Hosted An Event In South Africa

Startup consultant and Startupbootcamp (Afritech) Program Manager, Nsovo Nkatingi, was invited to this last week’s Solution Space Learning Lunch to share her insights on putting together a winning pitch deck. Solution Space Learning Lunches are known to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to learn from experts in their field. This it does by inviting guests to speak on a range of topics that address common pain points faced by founders.

Participants are the event were looking to pick the brains of the guest on such aspects as pitching for customers, finance, and partners, building a sales deck for B2B, building a fundraising deck, and delivering excellent presentations. The event took place on Thursday, 11th October 2018 at UCT Graduate School of Business in Cape Town. The audience comprised a number of early-stage startups, as well as corporates and industry players.

Lionesses Of Africa Event Held In Zimbabwe

Melanie Hawken; Founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa, alongside Charity Jinya; Managing Director at Nedbank Zimbabwe, brought Lioness Lean In Breakfast event for women entrepreneurs to Zimbabwe for the very first time. Lionesses of Africa is regarded as one of the fastest-growing networks of women entrepreneurs in Africa. This event which took place in TBD, Harare, on 9th October 2018, drew attendance from a number of inspirational women entrepreneurs who shared their startup stories. It also featured the unveiling of some great new initiatives being launched by Lionesses of Africa.

Participants at the event were afforded the opportunity to hear inspiring entrepreneurial stories of women who are building great businesses, benefit from the insights and advice of women entrepreneurs who have been there and done that, network with speakers and participants who all share a passion for advancing women entrepreneurs, as well as ask questions and get advice that can help take their enterprises to the next level.

 

Image CreditsHtxt.co.za, Africa.com

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