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Leveling up to the best in the world is not an easy task. There will be disappointments along the way, but the reward is ultimately worth the sacrifice.

No one knows this better than Burna boy.

His African Giant album got a nomination for Best World Music Album, but he lost out to African legend Angelique Kidjo.

Stung by the disappointment, he went back to the drawing board and returned with an absolute masterpiece — Twice As Tall— to win the same award just a year after.

Burna's win meant a lot for Nigerians who had been waiting for the first solo award for one of their own since King Sunny Ade's first nomination in 1984. 37 years and 9 nominations later, we finally have one we can call our own.

This newsletter edition is dedicated to everyone trying to level up. Yes, it's difficult, and there will be disappointments. These things are what make victory sweeter in the end.

In today's newsletter, we will be looking at the following news items:

  • Flutterwave's unicorn status
  • Stripe's $600 million raise
  • Bolt launches food delivery service
  • And more...
Now, settle down as we give you the juiciest stories from the week

Something-you-should-know: Burna boy wasn't the only Nigerian to win accolades at the 63rd Grammy's. Ayo "Wizkid" Balogun also copped an award for himself for his part in the all-time classic "Brown Skin Girl" with  Beyonce.

However, the interesting thing is that the number of Grammy awards won by Nigerian nominees doubled in one night. Before the 63rd Grammy, there had only been two Nigerian winners - Babatunde Olatunji and Sikiru Adepoju.


🦋 Flutterwave becomes Nigeria's latest unicorn

The alarm clock rang early on Wednesday morning as news of Nigeria's newest unicorn hit the airwaves.

Flutterwave raised $170 million in a Series C round to take its valuation to $1 billion. The deal was done by a conglomerate of investors led by Avenir Growth Capital and Tiger Global Management LLC - two of the most active fintech investors globally.

Flutterwave's raise comes on the back of a successful 2020 for the company. The company processed over $7.5 billion and on-boarded over 20,000 merchants during the pandemic year alone.

On hitting the $1 billion valuation mark, Flutterwave joined the exclusive class of Nigerian tech Unicorns.

The word Unicorn was first used by venture capitalist, Aileen Lee, to describe startups that rose to a $1 billion valuation because of how rare they are.

Flutterwave joins Jumia and Interswitch as the three known Nigerian tech unicorns.


Who will be Nigeria's next unicorn?🦄

As expected, since Flutterwave's announcement, people have begun looking towards the next company to breach unicorn status in Nigeria.

Valuations in the tech startup space are a tricky thing. They're first and foremost determined by private investors and may not necessarily consider the company's fortunes.

For instance, in the infamous case of WeWork - the American proptech company, the lead investors - Softbank reportedly invested over $18 billion in the company, pushing its valuation close to $50 billion. This was despite the company being fraught with structural issues and never really making a profit.

That said, African startups rarely get the luxury of oversized investments like WeWork did. In this part of the world, you have to show grit and tangible results to bring investors to the table.

Nigeria's next unicorn will likely be a Fintech company again. The local Fintech ecosystem is heads and shoulders above all other tech sub-industries with many star players. Among them, I have highlighted a few that have shown potential to be Nigeria's next Unicorn:

  • PiggyVest: Launched in 2016, PiggyVest is currently the country's leading savings and investment platform. The company reportedly paid out $249 million to its users in 2020.

    Piggyvest's last public funding round was in 2018 when it raised a $1.1 million seed round from LeadPath Nigeria, with Village Capital and Ventures Platform.

    Although it is commendable that PiggyVest has been able to grow since 2018, it might also work against the company in terms of valuation.

    The three known unicorns, Flutterwave, Interswitch, and Jumia, raised $235 million, $210 million, and $740 million, respectively, before achieving unicorn startups.

    For PiggyVest to join the club, the company will likely need a Series A round north of $200 million to achieve it. Such a round would trump Visa's investment in Interswitch as the biggest investment in any Nigerian fintech company.

    That said, if anyone can achieve it, it's the Piggyvest team. Two of the cofounders already hinted towards imminent unicorn status in tweets over the weekend.
  • Opay: The Chinese-backed Nigerian company appears to be the clearest contender for the next unicorn valuation. So far, it has already raised over $170 million in two investment rounds.

    While we don't yet know what the cap table at Opay looks like, the fintech company appears to have strong financial backing from its investors, including free-money-spending Softbank.

    In 2020, Opay reportedly processed over $2 billion in transactions, a 4.5X growth from 2019 during the pandemic. The company's POS terminals also represented over 20% of offline payments in Nigeria.

    With results like that and previous funding rounds taken into account, Opay might just hit unicorn valuation with its next raise.
  • Carbon: The country's leading lending platform has also made a name for itself with giant strides in 2020. It processed over $253 million during the pandemic year and gave out over $66 million in loans.

    So far, it has only raised about $15 million in funding, with $5million out of that amount being debt financing.

    The company has also made a foray into the e-commerce market with a buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) model, allowing users to purchase items at zero-interest loans and pay later.

    BNPL companies are all the craze now in the international fintech ecosystem. Affirm, the biggest BNPL company, recently IPO'd in the NYSE, raising $1.2 billion in the process.

    If Carbon can hack the BNPL model in Nigeria, that could see it become the country's first lending unicorn.
Nigeria has only 2 active unicorns since Jumia has IPO'ed

💰Paystack acquirer, Stripe,  raises extra $600 million

If you're talking about unicorns on the global stage, they don't get much bigger than Stripe. The Silicon Valley startup on Sunday, March 14, announced a further $600 million raise to bring its total fundraising to $2.2 billion.

Stripe became a household name to many Africans after acquiring Paystack, the Nigerian payment giant, last year.

Stripe's $600 million series H round received investment from Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency, among other investors. The startup aims to provide 1000 jobs in Ireland via its recent investment.

The investment increased Stripe's valuation to $95 billion, making it the third biggest privately owned tech company in the world after Ant Finance and Bytedance, parent company to TikTok.


🍕Bolt to introduce food delivery service in Lagos

Less than a week after raising €20 million from the IFC, Estonian car-hailing company, Bolt has hinted at entering into the food delivery space in Nigeria.

While there has been no official announcement, an ad for the role of Restaurant Sales Manager was spotted by TechCabal on the company's website.

The ad was quoted as saying, “we are launching our new food delivery service and we are looking for a Restaurant Sales Manager who can help in establishing partnerships with local businesses.”

By entering into the food delivery space in Nigeria, Bolt will be going head to head with Jumia Food and Gokada. Jumia food is the current market leader, however, with 20,000 registered drivers, Bolt can provide stiff competition.

💸 Fundraising

Here are some of the recent startup fundraises across Africa that you should be aware of:

📰 Things we found interesting

Here are some of the most exciting stories we've written and read over the last seven days:

Jobs and Opportunities🚪

In addition to  last week's list of jobs, events, and other  opportunities, check these out, too:

Thanks for reading
Hope this newsletter was helpful. Reach me directly by replying this email.

Regards,
Hachi