Eleven years ago, the first Nigerian company got into Y Combinator—an American seed accelerator. The Nigerian company was the defunct online advertising platform, PetaSales.
Later in 2016, Paystack and Flutterwave—leading payment platforms in Nigeria—joined the accelerator programme. Since then, Nigerian startups have become staple Africa representatives at Y Combinator (YC), participating in its last four batches.
Out of the 197 startups in the 2020 winter batch, 12 are African startups and five of the 12 are Nigerian startups, namely: Bamboo, CrowdForce, Eze, SEND Shipping, and Termii.
The other seven African startups are Avion, Healthlane, NUMI, Swipe, Tambua Health, WorkPay, and Yassir.
YC, which was launched in 2005, brings together over 100 startups from across the world to Silicon Valley twice a year (winter and summer) for a three-month accelerator programme that culminates into a Demo Day.
Related Article: To go or not to go? Is Y Combinator beneficial to Nigerian startups?.
This year's Demo Day was held online due to the growing concerns about Coronavirus (COVID-19).
In addition to the intensive training, mentorship and opportunity to pitch to investors, YC also cut selected startups a cheque of $150,000 (~ ₦54 million) for 7% equity. Over the years, YC has reviewed its investment deal from $17,000 to $120,000, and now $150,0000.
A total of 23 Nigerian companies have participated in YC's three-month accelerator programme (some of whom have also been funded by YC): PetaSales, Paystack, Flutterwave, Kudi, Aella Credit, RelianceHMO (formerly Kangpe), Tizeti, Buypower, Releaf, Helium Health, Buycoins, Cowrywise, Kobo360, 54gene, CredPal, Thrive Agric, Wallet Africa, Schoolable, Bamboo, CrowdForce, Eze, SEND, and Termii.
Meet the Nigerian startups that got into Y Combinator Winter 2020
Like the previous year, the five Nigerian startups that got into YC W2020 are diverse. They include fintech (Bamboo), logistics (SEND), cloud communication (Termii), marketplace (Eze), and a distribution network (CrowdForce) company.
Also Read: Paystack's Y Combinator Application
Bamboo is an online app that gives Nigerians access to global capital market, including exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Officially launched in November 2019, Bamboo has received an undisclosed investment from Future Africa Fund. It was co-founded by Yanmo Omorogbe and Richmond Bassey.
CrowdForce, founded in 2018 by Oluwatomi Ayorinde, prides itself as Africa's largest offline distribution network. It "empowers businesses to drive mass adoption of digital, crypto and financial services to underserved population in their communities," according to the company's website. CrowdForce has two products: MobileForms and PayForce, and it has received funding from Ventures Platform.
Eze Wholesale is a marketplace that connects wholesalers of second hand electronics with phone stores, international distributors, refurbishers and e-waste experts. It was co-founded in 2018 by Joshua Nzewi and David Iya.
We back winners before YC finds them! https://t.co/BxXkv2I0d4— E (@iaboyeji) March 17, 2020
SEND Shipping is a digital freight forwarding and courier for African businesses. Founded by Larry Oti in 2017, SEND has received funding from Ingressive Capital, Ventures Platform and Future Africa Fund.
Termii, touted as Twilio for Africans, is a cloud communication software that allows businesses to interact with their users across multiple channels, including SMS, email, voice and instant messaging. Termii was co-founded by Emmanuel Gbolade and Tayo Awe in 2014, and they have received an investment of $15,000 (~ ₦5 million) for 7.5% equity from Microtraction in 2019.
Other African startups in YC W2020
Avion UAV is a drone delivery network for medical supplies. Very similar to Zipline. According the company's website built on Wix, Avion "design and set up distribution nodes with minimal infrastructure".
NUMI is an import marketplace targeted at East Africans. Although yet to fully launch, it aims to bring the best products from United States to Africa.
Swipe, which is yet to fully launch, wants to provide credit cards with $10,000 () limit to African businesses. Registered as an American company, Swipe Technologies Inc. is not a bank. It has partnered with Providus Bank to issue the Business Credit Card.
5. Tambua Health
Tambua Health describes itself as the "Shazam of lung and heart sounds". Co-founded by Eric Kirima, Daniel G., and Lewis W. in 2017, Tambua is developing a device called T-Sense—it uses sound to take a picture of the lungs like an x-ray.
WorkPay is a human resource and payroll solution that can be used for time tracking and processing payment to banks and mobile wallets. Based in Kenya and founded by Paul Kimani in 2017, WorkPay aims to be the go-to payments solutions for businesses in Africa by providing them with competitive payroll software.
Yassir is a mobile app whose core offering is transport service, but other services such as food delivery has been added to make it a super app. Based in Algeria and founded in 2016, Yassir prides itself as the French-speaking super app that allows everyone to book a driver and move around easily.