Who are the DealWeek investors?

January 22nd, 2015

As we’ve gathered quite a range of founder-investors to join us for a week of evaluating and investing in startups, we thought you might like to know who they are, what they have done, and what types of startups they are looking to put their hard-earned cash into. With backgrounds from digital advertising, e-commerce, online media, VAS, SaaS, marketplaces, mobile payments, consumer web, not to mention starting, scaling, exiting, and investing in online and technology businesses, we think its safe to say that in addition to capital, they bring a tremendous amount of value to any startup looking to build a great business in Africa.

Here’s a quick run down of their domain experience, skills, and what they are looking for in startups:

88mph_Team_Kresten.jpgKresten Buch

BACKGROUND

Kresten studied economics at the University of Copenhagen, and studied Management and Entrepreneurship at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

FOUNDER EXPERIENCE

Brought Australian betting company, CenterBet, to the Scandinavian market, and grew it to generate over €200M in revenue during 1997-2001. Started Statman, a sports data collection company, which he sold to Betgenius in 2006.

INVESTMENT EXPERIENCE

Started investing in African mobile/web startups in 2011. To date has made 34 investments through 88mph, and 9 through 440.ng. Some investments include fintech business Apex Peak, digital content marketing startup 8bit, Kenyan bus ticketing company BookNow, and Gingerbox, a fresh food delivery startup in Nigeria. He has also made some educational investments outside the tech space, including a farm in Kenya, The Nakuru Allstars – a football club in the Kenyan Premier League, and a water borehole in west Kenya. Prior to investing in Africa, he bought a sports media company which he grew to be Denmark’s largest football news site, and invested in a danish betting company – Danbook – which he sold to Sportingbet Ltd. in 2011.

EXPERTISE AND AREAS OF INTEREST

Specialities include testing business models in the consumer web space, enhancing the user experience of online products, and go-to-market strategies for startups bringing offline products and services online.

Looking to invest in consumer internet and marketplace startups, fintech, and products or services that make the world more transparent.

Other interests include wine, sports, and the decline of the nation-state.

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martin diessner.png

Martin Diessner

 BACKGROUND

Martin grew up in Leipzig, Eastern Germany and later on studied International Management with focus on Finance and Marketing at Bradford’s Management Center. He also has a Master’s degree in Computer Science from London’s City University.

His career started with a stint at Daimler Chrysler’s research and development division, before moving over to the sports company Adidas, where he held various positions at Adidas Germany, Europe, and Global Marketing.

Martin moved to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates end of 2001 where he worked as Business Development Manager for the regional advertising group BBDO in the Middle East.

FOUNDER EXPERIENCE

In 2004, with his business partner Dinesh Lalvani, he co-founded and set up Flip Media, which later became the leading digital media and marketing company across the Middle East. In December 2006, HSBC Private Equity Middle East Ltd. acquired a significant equity stake in Flip Holding. In January 2012, Flip was sold to Paris based Publicis Groupe (PUB.PA), the third largest communications group in the world, and folded into Leo Burnett Worldwide.

INVESTMENT EXPERIENCE

Martin has been investing in digital and internet businesses for the past 8 years through his investment company Evercape. Some of his investments include Wordy, Malaysia Travel, Oznium, The Royalty Exchange, and 8bit.

EXPERTISE AND AREAS OF INTEREST

Can support startups with his expertise and background on digital integration, financial systems integration and marketing.

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Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 14.22.31.png

Neil Emerick

BACKGROUND

Neil Emerick came to South Africa in 1990 and has been involved in the local software industry ever since.

 In 2003, as an Executive Council Member of the Free Market Foundation, Emerick released his monograph, “The Real Digital Divide”, which highlighted the threats and opportunities facing South Africa under its monopoly telecom legislation.

 After leaving UCS, Emerick worked on his passion, the Economic Freedom of the World project, which score-cards countries based on their level of economic freedom. In 2014 he released a cloud-based version of the software that assists econometricians all over the world with cross-country economic research. He continues to champion the benefits of markets and open trade, appearing regularly in the Business Day and other publications.

FOUNDER EXPERIENCE

During the 1990s he sold and supported mid-range accounting software before selling his company to soon-to-be-listed UCS.

In 2004, he co-founded (with his wife, Theresa) Nightsbridge, the real-time booking engine for accommodation. In 2011, the product was extended to trips and tours with the release of ActivityBridge. Nightsbridge now has 30 staff and last year processed R1.5 billion of online bookings.

INVESTMENT EXPERIENCE

Introduced to 88mph in 2013, Emerick has assisted as a mentor and subsequent investor in SA startups 8bit and Diarize.me, as well as 440.ng – a seed fund investing in Nigerian startups.

EXPERTISE AND AREAS OF INTEREST

Likes to be hands-on as a consultant and mentor. Specific interest in B2B platforms rather than consumer-space.

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Wayne Gosling

BACKGROUND

Wayne started and sold his first business while attending the University of Pretoria. His spent the first years working at various companies doing consulting for SMEs.

FOUNDER EXPERIENCE

He co-founded Twangoo in 2010 with Daniel Guasco. They exited the businesses to Groupon in under 12 months, whereafter he served as CEO over the next 2 years, growing it to become one of the largest deal sites in Africa. Co-founded 5 Ounces.com, which was sold to Naspers in 2013.

INVESTMENT EXPERIENCE

Founded Team Africa Ventures and PlanA Investments with Daniel Guasco, where they invest in e-commerce, fintech, and media startups. Some of the investments include Latimer Group, Lula Lend, WineOwine, Glambox, and 5 Ounces.

EXPERTISE AND AREAS OF INTEREST

Wayne is a strong advocate of lean startups, with a quick build from concept to execution based on experience, talent and insight. He also has built strong skills around systems, processes, and execution, with an intense interest in what makes certain businesses thrive.

He is especially interested in startups that are exploiting the opportunities that e-commerce represents, particularly in Africa.

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daniel_guasco.jpg

Daniel Guasco

BACKGROUND

Daniel started his first business at 12, in fact so young that his first employee was a driver!

FOUNDER EXPERIENCE

He launched Twangoo South Africa in 2010, which was bought in under 5 months by Groupon during their international expansion. Since then, he pioneered in the e-commerce space, developing Groupon SA into one of the most popular group buying sites on the African continent.

INVESTMENT EXPERIENCE

Through Team Africa Ventures and PlanAinvestments, which he founded together with Wayne Gosling, he invests in e-commerce, fintech, and media startups. Some of the investments include HealthQ, Ekaya, 8bit, Wumdrop, and Runway Sale.

EXPERTISE AND AREAS OF INTEREST

Especially interested in startups that have a relentless amount of dedication, which is key to not only identify an opportunity, but to stay focused on how to develop the idea into reality.

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chika.jpgChika Nwobi

BACKGROUND

Chika studied Economics and Computer Science at East Tennessee State University and has taken courses in Strategy, Corporate Finance, & Financial Accounting (INSEAD), HR Strategy (Tsinghua University China), and Agile Software Methodology (Oxford University).

He began his career consulting for the Ford Foundation, working on mobile microfinance management systems. He also worked as a consultant for the IFC (World Bank) and Airtuit (USA) where his job involved working with Fortune 500 clients to formulate their wireless strategy to exploit opportunities in M-Commerce.

Chika was part of the Nigeria 2025 Scenarios Team and was a nominee for the Future Awards Entrepreneur of the Year and Young Person of The Year, 2007. He has served as a Mentor for Fate Foundation Aspiring Entrepreneurs Program and as a judge for LEAP Africa’s Youth Leadership Awards and the Federal Government YOUWIN business plan competition.

FOUNDER EXPERIENCE

Driven by the sudden deregulation and privatisation of telecoms and other industries in Nigeria, Chika returned in 2001 to start MTech PLC.  As a co-founder and CEO, he led it to become the largest mobile content company in Africa with operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ivory Coast serving the likes of MTN, Glo, Airtel, IFC, Ford Foundation and Nokia. He remains a major shareholder and a member of the board of directors.

 INVESTMENT EXPERIENCE

In 2010, Chika started L5Lab, focusing on building companies, and seed-stage investing. His portfolio includes Jobberman, Cheki.ng, and Kamdora. Jobberman is now Africa’s largest jobs portal and Cheki is the leading online marketplace for cars in Africa. In 2014, L5Lab entered a joint venture with 88mph, starting 440.ng – investing in 9 early-stage startups and running an accelerator program in Lagos.

 EXPERTISE AND AREAS OF INTEREST

Can support startups with his experience developing profitable partnerships with telcos in Africa, building marketplaces in highly fragmented industries, and building teams by finding & supporting high performance talent.

Especially interested in startups that build technology which can enable other businesses to grow and reach customers more efficiently.

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Hannes.pngHannes van Rensburg

BACKGROUND

Prior to his career as an entrepreneur, he held executive positions in several large financial services companies, consulting to some of Africa’s largest corporations (including banks, telcos and retailers).

In addition to having forty plus years of experience in the technology industry, Hannes holds a number of degrees in Information Systems; he is a member of the CSSA (Computer Society of S.A.) and an ex-board member of SAICSIT (S.A. Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists). He was one of the founding members of CITI (the Cape IT Initiative, now known as the Bandwidth Barn) and is a member of a number of international workgroups on the application of technology.

FOUNDER EXPERIENCE

He founded Fundamo in 2001, and grew it to become the leading supplier of mobile banking and payment solutions. It was acquired by Visa Inc. in 2011 for USD 110M.

Prior to Fundamo, he was one of the founders of Infomet, a leader in the development of CASE tools and development methodologies. Infomet was sold to IBM in 1992.

EXPERTISE AND AREAS OF INTEREST

Focused purely on investing in startups that are, or have the potential to be, technology disruptive initiatives.

He is the author of a widely read blog on mobile banking and was an active participant in mobile banking conferences. Having launched the first mobile banking solution in 1999, Hannes is often seen as the pioneer of mobile banking.

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If you are interested in applying for DealWeek, you can read more about it here, and here. Applications close on February 8th. Stay tuned for more updates on DealWeek Cape Town 2015.

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