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88mph to invest $200,000 in up to 15 tech startups

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In an exciting development, seed investment fund 88mph seeks to invest US$200,000 in up to 15 tech startups. The seed investment fund, 88mph, is betting on the high growth mobile/web markets in Africa. Last year it invested $180.000 in 7 Kenyan startups. It will now run Africa’s first intense 3 month accelerator program – inspired by Y-Combinator – investing another $200,000 in 8-15 startups. Their full press release is available here (PDF).

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According to their press release 88mph wants startups with ideas that can scale across English speaking Africa. The 88mph accelerator program is open to both Kenyan and international tech entrepreneurs. Kresten Buch, founder of 88mph comments, “Looking 2-5 years ahead, the US and Europe will be stagnating at best. I think the biggest opportunities for return on investment will be in Africa and other emerging markets. Our accelerator program is a great opportunity for international tech entrepreneurs and returning diaspora to come, take advantage of the insane growth here, and work on solving some really interesting problems.”

88mph, provides office space, a great local network, market knowledge, cash and, “a one way plane ticket”, Kresten jokes. Nikolai Barnwell, program manager at 88mph, points out that “One of the reasons for the success of other tech/ investment ecosystems, like Silicon Valley, has been the influx and mix of talent and ideas from across continents and cultures”.

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Up to $24K per startup – and other program details

  • Application Deadline August 15, 2012
  • Startups can apply now on 88mph.ac
  • In retrun for the $24k investment 88mph will take a 6 – 18% equity stake in each startup
  • Altogether 8 – 15 teams will receive an investment and get accepted into the 3-month program
  • The teams will be notified if they have been accepted to the program by Sept 5th
  • Program starts on September 15th in the 800m2 Startup Garage in Nairobi, Kenya
  • 88mph is a privately backed seed fund
  • Besides funding, the accelerator program includes exposure to 88mph’s mentors & networks of business and tech professionals, like Johanna Kollar, from Startup Support Africa at Google, Larry Modowo, Anchor at CNBC Africa, and Ranjith Cherickel, Head of Services Sales, Nokia Siemens Africa
  • Startups in the program will have access to tech hubs in Nairobi and Cape Town, as well as to 88mph’s partner tech hubs across Africa

About 88mph

The team behind 88mph has previously hosted two investment events in Kenya. Set up as 48hour investment bootcamps, the first one took place in 2010 where they invested in M-Farm. The second, in August 2011, resulted in 88mph and 3 more investments. Since it was started, 88mph has invested in a total of 7 startups – all targeting the African mobile/ web markets – one of which has raised follow-on funding and expanded into Nigeria.

Members of Futaa, one of 88mph’s portfolio companies at work

88mph Portfolio companies include:

6ix.co.ke: 6ix Degrees is extending the privilege of cloud backup to people without smartphones. David and his team have built a simple interface that allows users with feature phones to safely backup their contacts in the cloud. With 25m+ mobile phones in Kenya, and only 500k being smartphones, there is a demand from users who need to transfer contacts to new phones because of theft, replacement, or damage. Since the company was founded in September, they have through their beta testing backed up more than 1,500 phone books and collected more than 90,000 unique phone numbers.

Tusqee Systems: Tusqee is building software to help schools communicate with parents in rural Kenya. They have built a simple system that allows schools with slow internet access to send out SMSs with fee balances, report cards, and general communication. When parents receive a fee balance, they will eventually be able to pay with mobile money through Tusqee’s system. Tusqee currently has more than 75 paying clients who are sending more than 12,000 SMSs through the platform a week and Tusqee’s monthly revenue crossed the $1,000 mark in June 2012.

Futaa.com: Futaa is the fastest growing local football site in Africa. With a staff of 6 journalists futaa.com writes about 50 articles/day with a strong focus on Kenyan football and Kenyan footballers in European leagues. The site boasts of over 1.7 million page views/ month and a reach of more than 230,000 unique visitors over the past 6 months. The site attracts an impressive 8 min average visiting time. As a testament to the rapid growth and quality product Futaa.com was awarded the Kenyan Football League Chairman Award for biggest contribution to Kenyan football in 2011. Futaa raised follow on funding in 2012 to expand across the continent and has already launched the site in Nigeria.

Ghafla.com: Ghafla wants to fill a content gap in the East African market for quality online content in the entertainment domain. There is very little quality content about the East African stars from music, films, etc. and Ghafla has created a broad media portal to attract young Kenyan users. The young site is writing about 40-50 original articles per day and has a team of 5 Kenyans. Ghafla is constantly improving their product and has seen rapid growth over the past 6 months, growing from 3000 to 35000 unique weekly visitors from January to June 2012.

PesaTalk.com: Pesatalk.com is a financial website aimed at the individual, providing a simple approach to the latest local news, information and tutorials. Pesatalk goal is to help its readers, not only understand what’s happening in the world of finance, but how it affects them and how they can use that knowledge to their benefit. It covers topics such as banking, debt, home ownership, investment in stocks, bonds and real estate, mortgages, taxes and budgeting. PesaTalk has a team of 8 Kenyans in place and write 15+ articles/day. In their first four months from launch PesaTalk attracted 166,000 pageviews without advertising.


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