#TCBattlefield: Start-ups battle for Sub-Saharan Africa’s title

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Fifteen African start-ups are set to battle out the at the first ever TechCrunch Start-up battlefield Africa held in Nairobi Kenya today.

Over the last two months, these 15 Startups refined their business models, demos, and messaging with TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield team and Editors. This culminates onstage with a five-minute pitch and live demo in front of an audience of investors, entrepreneurs, and technologists. Each startup then has six minutes to answer questions from the the panel of judges.

After the pitches, an esteemed panel of judges will select a winner in each of the three categories: Productivity and Utility, Social Good, and Gaming and Entertainment.

One overall winner – ‘Sub-Saharan Africa’s Most Promising Startup’ – will win $25,000 USD and an all-expense paid trip for two to San Francisco to compete in TechCrunch’s flagship event: Disrupt San Francisco 2018. The Winners will join TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Alumni Network.

Speaking to CIO East Africa, TechCrunch Chief Operations Officer (COO), Mr, Ned Desmond, said that the journey to start the Techcrunch Start-up Battlefield Africa started close to five years ago when the Techcrunch team became familiar with a start-up from Ghana.

“The innovators came to compete in our San-Francisco competition which is super tough. They did very well and nearly won the competition and we reealised there is a very big interesting world being started in Africa by start-ups,” he said.

He added, “Later, Facebook approached us and asked if there was a way we could work together in Africa  to encourage the start-up community. We accepted. This start-up competition is one that is the most focused from a stand-point of creating excitement and understanding investment opportunity by the founders and start-ups here in Africa.”

Being a premier event in Africa Desmond explained that so far they had picked 15 companies here in Africa that were addressing issues around Productivity and Utility, Gaming and Entertainment and Social good and trained them intensively.

With the event being streamed live globally, Desmond was confident that the start-ups will get an opportunity to attract attention from the global community placing them at a position to get investment opportunities and partnership opportunities.

“The competition really looks at encouraging the ecosystem and rewarding the founders of these start-ups. The companies needed to be early stage, good geographical distribution, We were also looking for companies that would have a big impact or become great companies,” he added.

The fifteen companies include Abacus (Kenya), AgroCenta (Ghana), Big5Games(South Africa), DotLearn(Ghana), Delvery Science (Nigeria), Form Plus (Nigeria), Lomay (Madagascar), M-shule (Kenya),M-Daktari (Kenya)Sellio (Uganda), Sunpoynt (Kenya), SynCommerce (Ghana), Talent2Africa (Senegal), TangoTv (Tanzania) and finally WeCashUp (Cameroon).

The event also featured key discussions around connectivity, Start-Up Unicorn and Digitizing Africa’s creative industry.

As of February 2017, Techcrunch Start-up Battlefield had worked with 648 startups that have participated since the first competition in 2007. In aggregate, the start-ups have raised total funds of $6.9 billion, while 95 have been acquired or have gone public.

“We see this as huge success story for us. Close to 100 of the companies have also been acquired publicly.We are so excited to see what Africa Start-up Ecosystem has to offer. We do not have a plan to make this an annual event in Africa but an ambition to have it as an annual event,” concluded Mr. Ned

Globally, TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield is the world’s preeminent startup competition. The Battlefield features 15-30 top early stage startups pitching top judges in front of a vast live audience, present in person and online. The winner takes away the Disrupt Cup and check for $50,000.

Some of the key companies born from the competition include companies like MintDropboxYammerTripitRedbeaconQwikiGetaround, and Soluto. TechCrunch stages the Battlefield four times a year, once at each of our three Disrupt conferences, — in New York City, San Francisco, and London– and also at a special Hardware Battlefield at CES in Las Vegas. Applications to each Battlefield open three months before the actual event.

To be eligible, startups must be launching to the public for the first time and have little to no prior press exposure. Selection is highly competitive; the acceptance rate ranges from 3 to 6% per event.

TechCrunch reviews the applicants and selects the Battlefield contestants based their team, product and market potential. Successful applicants are notified one month before the event and TechCrunch schedules practice sessions with each company to help them develop and rehearse their pitches for the judges. Those sessions engage TechCrunch editors as well as guest VCs and entrepreneurs.

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