On Wednesday, Kenyan-based business incubator Nailab held its first ever VC carousel in a bid to create a direct link between startups to investors.
The first of its kind among local incubators and accelerators, the carousel saw entrepreneurs who have gone through the Nailab incubation program, from season 3 through to season 6 and are investor ready, pitch and engage with early stage and growth investors.
The 3 hour session, which took on a pitching and one on one engagement structure, saw Kejahunt (Sn3), Kuhustle (Sn4), Lipaplus (Sn5), Mobu and Betsafi (both Sn6) put to task by the investors on the existing and potential market shares, company profitability, current valuations and team capabilities. 3 of the startups i.e. Kejahunt, Lipaplus and Betsafi, received investment prospects from one of the investors and discussions are underway to close on their seed round.
Founder Kejahunt, Joshua Mutua highlighted that “the session is an eye-opener for we startups to realize that the industry is real and investors are out there hence very key to put our houses in order.” His sentiments were well echoed by Michael Kara Founder BetSafi whose key take out was “A poor revenue model would lead to an economically unstable business”
Sam Gichuru, Nailab CEO stated, “Over the last 5 years we have been privileged to see majority of our startups start from ideas and grow to mature into investable ventures. We have held a number of preliminary closed door investor meetings as we continue to grow our network.” Mr. Gichuru went on to say, “We are focused on expanding similar sessions for any startup we come across that fits the criteria investors are looking for. This is a great opportunity to create linkages for startups and smart money in an effort to bridge the missing middle”
The investors, who were largely Institutional Investors, comprised of Sarah Ngamau Vice president at Kuramo Capital Management LLC, Ali Hussein Principal Associate at Hussein & Associates, Kimathi Ikaio of Acumen Fund and Peter Nakitare of Novastar Ventures. The investors all acknowledged the value of such sessions more so on the exposure front for the startups and also giving the startups an understanding of what different investors are looking for. As in the words of Peter Nakitare to early stage businesses “Raise small, Prove value, de-risk and go back with proof.
Nailab, which was launched in 2011, offers an entrepreneurship program focusing on growing innovative technology driven ideas. Over the last five years the incubator has incubated 45 startups 40% of which have metamorphosed into small companies in different sectors of the economy.
Nailab will be putting out a call for businesses to pitch in the sessions in the coming months and more information on the same will be available on www.nailab.co.ke