Treepz acquires Ugabus, closes $2.8 million seed round

In two years, Treepz (formerly Plentywaka) has set up an office in Canada, acquired two startups in Ghana and Uganda, and closed a $2.8 million seed round.

Treepz acquires Ugabus, closes $2.8 million seed round

Treepz Inc. has acquired Ugandan mobility startup, Ugabus. The acquisition was funded with the additional $1.6 million seed fund Treepz recently raised. Three months ago, Treepz also acquired Stabus in Ghana after it received $1.2 million seed investment.

Through this acquisition, Ugabus becomes Treepz Uganda and its founder and CEO Ronald Hakiza is now the country manager for Treepz Uganda. The Ugabus team would also join Ronald at Treepz Uganda which will begin operation on December 1, 2021. When that happens, the Toronto-headquartered mobility company would be operational in three African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda.

Treepz began its journey in Nigeria in 2019 as Plentywaka. Its co-founders are Onyeka Akumah (CEO), Johnny Enagwolor (Managing Director), Oluseyi Afolabi (VP Product Development), and John Shaibu (VP Customer Engagement). Speaking with then, Plentywaka said its mission is to change the transportation landscape by decongesting the road and providing a safe and convenient transport system for bus drivers.

In March 2021, Plentywaka got into Techstars Toronto Accelerator programme; and its growth trajectory was indeed boosted. Upon completion of the programme, Plentywaka set up its headquarters in Ontario, Canada.  

By July, Plentywaka announced that it had raised $1.2 million in a seed round led by Xchange — a Toronto-based fund. Techstars also participated, alongside SOSV, ShockVentures, Argentil Capital Partners, ODBA & Co Ventures, and other angel investors from the US, Canada, and Africa.

Barely a month later, Plentywaka acquired Stabus — a leading mobility startup in Ghana. Stabus became Plentywaka Ghana and its founder and CEO Isidore Kpotufe became the country manager for Plentywaka Ghana. The Stabus team at the time also joined him. (Surprisingly, as of press time, the former Stabus website does not redirect to the new Treepz Ghana website.)

In September 2021, Plentywaka announced its name change to Treepz Inc. to reflect its global and pan-African expansion ambition. "After we discovered the term 'WAKA' could mean different things across Africa, which may be completely different from travel or movement, we decided to change the name from Plentywaka to Treepz — pronounced as Trips", Onyeka said.

"The new name boldly states our mission to provide safe, convenient and comfortable trips across Africa with plans for our expansion to six countries in two years on the continent."

Treepz offers three service: Daily Treepz, Travel Treepz, and Corporate Treepz. Daily Treepz works like Uber/Bolt for buses and minivans. It allows riders to reserve seats on a bus which they would board at the nearest bus stop. With Travel Treepz, the company aggregates other bus travel companies to provide intercity service. And Corporate Treepz allows businesses to provide shuttle service for their employees and manage their corporate trips.

In Nigeria, all three services are provided. Treepz have been able to aggregate 12 bus travel companies including GUO, Efex Executive, Libra Motors and ABC Transport, to provide the intercity service.

In Ghana, however, only Daily and Corporate Treepz are provided. That's because of Stabus extant model. Launched in 2019, Stabus provides daily bus-stop to bus-stop transportation and staff bus solution. At the time of its acquisition, Isidore said they've moved over 100,000 people within Accra and worked with multinationals such as MTN Ghana and GB Foods.

Similarly, when Treepz Uganda launches on December 1, it would be providing only intercity (Travel Treepz) and corporate services (Corporate Treepz).

"We will look at the opportunity of doing Daily Treepz there in the future, but for now it’s easier for us to launch with what we already have and what the team is already used to", Akumah said.

Treepz Inc. closes $2.8 million seed round: Meet the investors

With the $2.8 million seed round closed, Treepz Inc. has raised a total of $3.22 million from 14 investors.

The recently closed seed round was led by Uncovered Fund — a Japanese venture capital firm founded in 2019 targeting early-stage startups in Africa and other emerging markets. It invests up between $50,000 and $500,000 in African startups in seed and Series A stages.

Other investors that participated in the seed round include Dubai-based Blandford Capital and Jonomi Ventures and Egypt-based Jedar Capital. Existing investors such as ShockVentures and Clara Og did a follow on their previous investment.

"Treepz has impressed us with their remarkable traction in the latter part of the year and are poised for even further expansion, particularly through strategic partnerships. Treepz is building the most important mobility infrastructure in Africa's megacities", Uncovered Fund CEO and General Partner Takuma Terakubo said.

"We look forward to their building the infrastructure for people's mobility through digital value. As a Japanese VC who places importance on the mobility industry, we would like to provide a lot of value to them."

The Founding Partner of Jedar Capital, Sherif Nessim, said: "Onyeka's reputation as an award winning entrepreneur and ex co-founder of successful startups as well as the strong team brought me to a strong conviction that this a team focused on executing a great vision to become the largest mobility and transportation provider in Africa, supporting in-country and intra-countries travel for Africans where many depends on travelling to neighboring countries for work every day, this round will help them boost and fuel their expansion plan in West and East Africa:

Treepz will continue to grow across these regions in the coming 12 to 18 months, he added.

Transport and logistics startups in Africa

Within two years, Treepz has positioned itself as a leading mobility startups in Africa. According to Baobab Insights, 65% of 430 transport and logistics startups in Africa were founded less than three years ago.

But it's not without competition. Quickbus, which recently launched in Nigeria, provides a ticketing solution for bus travel companies and a platform where people can easily book buses for their intercity travels. In essence, Quickbus — operational in Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia — is competing with Travel Treepz.

Similarly, Nigerian bus-sharing startup Shuttlers is competing with Corporate Treepz. Or vice versa since Treepz only recently launched its corporate service.

By and large, this year has been eventful for mobility startups across Africa. As of September 6, 2021, transport and logistics have secured $200.77 million over 37 funding rounds (excluding grants, non-equity fundraises, crowdfunding, and corporate rounds). This excludes recent funding announcements such as Shuttlers' $1.6 million seed funding.

Featured image credit: Treepz Inc. (L–R: Ronald Hakiza, co-founder & CEO of Ugabus with Onyeka Akumah, co-founder & CEO of Treepz Inc.)

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