Six startups from Sub-Saharan Africa have been selected to join the fourth class of Google’s Launchpad Accelerator program.
Launchpad, Google’s mentorship-driven global startup program aims at driving real success for startup by providing them with in-person mentoring that they need to tackle critical challenges and enable each startup to grow or scale. Currently, Launchpad Accelerator is implemented in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
Interested startups can join a Launchpad activity through Google’s partner network of startup organizations.
Launched in late 2015, the program, had previously been reserved for startups from India, South East Asia and Latin America. For the first time, the program has accepted applications from Sub-Saharan countries.
Kenya’s participating startup is Database Management System (DMS), a tech-enabled sourcing and distribution platform that replaces informal wholesale markets for the millions of small and medium size food and FMCG retailers in Africa’s urban markets. The app is also designed for quick learning, revisions, references at the time of exams and interviews as it covers most of the related topics and detailed explanation with all the basics topics.
“Africa’s ICT infrastructure is on the rise therefore, it is encouraging to see Kenyan youth taking up such an opportunity that will expose them to a like-minded elite community of startups around the world” said John Kimani, SSA Developer Relations Program Manager for Google.
Nigeria has three participating startups in the program namely: Delivery Science, which is a mobile form app that helps large organizations get field data; Gidi Mobile Limited- a mobile learning platform that uses mastery learning & social gamification to deliver personal advancement, in a fun way, and at unprecedented scale and Paystack, an app that helps businesses in Africa accept their payments from their customers.
South Africa has two participating startups: Flatterwave- which is building technology and infrastructure for digital commerce across Africa starting with Rave, an app that helps merchants accept mobile money, cards and bank account payments across 4 African countries; and Jumo, the largest scale, lowest cost financial services marketplace for emerging markets.
Participating startups get access to a global list of carefully selected mentors whose profiles are reviewed in advance by a team of lead mentors and Google employees to make sure that they are a fit for the startups. The startups also get access to free credits for Google products and marketing (spotlight) opportunities. Each participating startup will also receive equity-free funding and continue to work closely with Google back in their home country during the 6-month program.
“Eight out of Ten startups do not make it past one year after they are set up. To mitigate this, Launchpad Accelerator is structured along the start-up growth stages, and aims at supporting them grow using technology”, added Mr. Kimani.
The Launchpad Accelerator is the third and final phase. The participating startups are currently in this phase which is a 6-month hyper-acceleration program for late-stage startups that includes a 2-week, all-expense-paid kick-off boot camp at the new Google Developers Launchpad Space in San Francisco.
As a function of increasing mobile and internet penetration as well as growth of mobile money, startups and small-businesses recognise the need to have apps power their business, but have limited knowledge to go about it. Launchpad Accelerator aims at bridging this gap.
“We acknowledge that each stage of a startup’s growth is critical, and for this reason we have structured the program to address the needs of a startup through the different phases of their growth cycle”, added Mr. Kimani.
The startups selected for Launchpad Accelerator are the top late-stage startups in their markets using a variety of Google products to help them succeed. This is an amazing opportunity for them to showcase their products on a global stage and at the same time receive best-in-class mentorship from Google and Silicon Valley mentors.
Selected tech startups must have a product targeting their local markets with proven product-market fit (beyond ideation stage). The selection process considers the problem the startup is trying to solve, how it creates value and whether it addresses a real challenge in the startup’s home country.