There is no shortage of hype when it comes to the blockchain industry and the promises of what decentralization can deliver to the world. We’ve seen huge inflows of funding going in and out of ICOs, the world’s first decentralized digital currency hitting all-time highs and lows, and the emerging idea of smart contracts radically changing our notion of the future. As with any disruptive technology, there are challenges—and opportunities.
There are a number of hurdles for blockchain technology to overcome before it becomes mainstream, including scaling, UI/UX, cost efficiencies, regulatory uncertainty, security, token economics, and the industry is still seeking its killer use cases that deliver a 10x improvement on what was there before.
At Techstars, we’ve spent the past nine months searching the globe for founders who are passionate about building a more open internet and financial system, and are working day and night to tackle these blockchain challenges head on.
Today, I’m excited to announce the inaugural class of the Alchemist Blockchain Techstars Accelerator. With applicants from over 45 countries, we selected 10 that stood out, from cities like Indianapolis, Prague, Cape Town, Toronto, New Orleans, and more. After countless hours in interviews, meetings, and discussions, these entrepreneurs proved to us why their startups are the ones that will shape the future.
Our one and only goal is to support and grow these 10 companies. Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and we’re able to do that thanks to strong global partners and mentors who help make this happen. I would like to thank our mentors, global network partners, and alumni for their generous support. And a special thanks to the team at Alchemist for their true commitment to the success of our partnership and these companies.
Without further ado, here are the Alchemist Blockchain Techstars Accelerator 2019 companies:
Alkemi offers a community-based liquidity solution in the form of a crypto savings account to address the significant crypto-market price inefficiencies amidst fragmented centralized exchange markets.
Founders: Ryan Breen & Aristotle Andrulakis | Toronto, Canada | https://alkemi.network/
AnyLedger allows companies to easily build IoT-Blockchain applications by offering them infrastructure as a service.
Founder: Lorenzo Pieri | Berlin, Germany | http://anyledger.io/
Autom(8) is the world’s first decentralized Function as a Service (FaaS) marketplace.
Founders: Gregg Altschul, Samuel Strauch & Will McLeod | New York, NY | http://autom8.network/
Blockade Games specializes in integrating blockchain and alternate reality components into puzzles and games to create experiences that transcend the digital world.
Founders: Marguerite deCourcelle, Benjamin Heidorn & Diego Rodriguez | Indianapolis, IN | http://blockade.games/
Embleema empowers patients with rare and chronic diseases to accelerate medicine by sharing their health data.
Founder: Robert Chu, Alexis Normand & Nicolas Schmidt | Metuchen, NJ | https://www.embleema.com/
Gilded provides essential accounting tools for crypto businesses—everything from bookkeeping to invoicing, payments, financial reports, tax compliance, and security.
Founders: Gil Hildebrand & Ken Gaulter | New Orleans, LA | https://gilded.finance/
Paperchain helps media companies unlock and accelerate media revenue by turning daily streaming & consumption data into tradable assets, and connecting them to a global investment marketplace.
Founders: Daniel Dewar, Rahul Rumalla, & Dave Tomaselli | Staten Island, NY | https://paperchain.io/
Paperstreet connects retail investors with alternative investment opportunities typically reserved for VCs and institutions.
Founders: Matt deCourcelle, Carter Lathrop, David Younts, & Alex Ratner | Indianapolis, IN | https://paperstreet.vc/
Trixta is building the most efficient way to develop great software for decentralized organizations.
Founders: Mark Levitt & Roger Norton | Phoenix, AZ | http://trixta.com/
Veracity Protocol is the ultimate bridge between physical things & the digital world. We allow anyone to guarantee the identity, authenticity and condition of physical items using our new AoT standard and infrastructure.
Founders: Roman Komarek, Jakub Krcmar, & Kamil Behun | Prague, Czech Republic | https://www.veracityprotocol.org/
Today, we are very excited to announce the second class of the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Cape Town. After the success of the first program, our applications extended to 52 countries across the globe and across a wide array of innovative Fintech companies. After a rigorous and competitive process, ten companies were carefully selected.
These companies will now have the opportunity to work together with Barclays Africa Group and potentially gain access to their footprint comprising close to 12 million customers in ten African markets, while gaining access to the Techstars worldwide network to help accelerate their growth and global expansion.
Each of the ten successful companies have an amazing founding team and unique solution that we believe has the potential to become a significant and relevant player on a global scale. We are extremely impressed with the quality of this class’ founders, many of whom are on their second or third business.
We’d like to extend thanks to our expert mentors, Rise partners in Tel Aviv, London and New York and Techstars Alumni for helping us find such an incredible group of founders.
We genuinely believe that these are the most promising startups in Fintech.
Without further ado, here is the 2017 Barclays Accelerator Cape Town Class:
Designs artificial intelligence solutions for the banking industry, helping banks better engage and support their customers at scale; significantly reducing the costs of servicing and acquiring customers through the use of chatbots.
FOMO Group (SA):
Africa’s first B2B, B2C company that facilities the travel industry by providing an alternative payment solution for keen travellers who wish to travel without the use of credit or immediate payment
Designed a digital trading platform based on blockchain technology, modernising agricultural trade by connecting food wholesalers to food producers directly, reducing distribution costs, creating financial security, and providing chain transparency.
|Byte Money (SA):
Provides solutions that help avoid mismanagement of payments in the ‘informal finance sector’. Byte Money taps into and revolutionises existing third-world payment channels and integrates them with first-world technologies.
Provides an automated and secured layaway system that manages the purchase of goods. Customers can choose to pay for goods over varying periods of time.
Provides an event commerce platform. Howler is the consolidation of three powerful events and entertainment platforms, designed at the highest benchmark of service and technology, helping consumers and event organisers to make moments that matter.
Focused on consumer analytics and targeting. Using a proprietary consumer database, Spatialedge enriches and verifies clients’ customers by spatially locating them, mapping them, and use advanced analytics to help clients locate and target new customers.
Simplifies the investment process for millennials by automating their investment decisions using machine learning and predictive analytics.
eCOIDA is an online insurance technology platform; a central database that connects all role players in real-time, creating an accurate workflow, fraud-free, paperless claims-processing platform.
|The Sun Exchange (SA):
The Sun Exchange enables anyone anywhere to own and earn from solar panels powering Africa, India and other developing economies. The exchange allows for collaborative solar finance using blockchain.
Our founders are some of the hardest working jack-of-all-trades type of people you’ll ever meet. But we also know that no one can know everything about business development, design or even software development. Therefore we often bring on awesome and accomplished contractors, which we call “Associates,” to come on board during the program to help our companies in their areas of expertise.
But being an Associate doesn’t only benefit our companies and in fact we see the Associates often times gain the most from the relationship. Becoming an Associate at Techstars is a fantastic stepping stone for great entrepreneurs, designers or developers who are figuring out their next move. The program gives you an unfair advantage by cultivating an environment where you are surrounded with incredible talent, i.e the other Associates, the ten invested teams, the 100+ mentors, the weekly founder stories, the MDs & PMs and being part of the Techstars family.
The Associate program is your ticket into Techstars. Associates are integral to the success of the program, which you get to live and breathe for three months. You will take part in the mentor sessions, weekly founder stories, the mini MBAs and the weekly show and tells. You get to learn a huge amount and are surrounded by amazing people. You will get to work with the ten incredible teams, bringing a fresh perspective to the table and really see your hard work pay off through your programming, marketing or business development skills.
The Associate program in Cape Town is a paid position, and Techstars Associates generally go on to do incredible things. If you are willing to ‘get your hands dirty,’ then you will reap the rewards. Some Associates go on to join the teams that are in program. Some build their own companies. Some go to work with the mentors that they’ve met through the program, and some join Techstars.
We’re hiring nine very talented entrepreneurs to join the Associate program for Techstars Cape Town – starting from the beginning of May – August.
Remember to apply with your CV and cover letter
For more information please take a look at our:
Watch our video about Techstars Africa program
Read our BLOG!
And have a read of some Associate testimonies below:
Minh Ha Duong – Being a Techstars Associate: The Amazing Things You Gain
Kelly McDonald – Learn More Faster
Anthony Marnell – Techstars New York: A Reflection
Dirk Lehmann – Techstars Associate Program: The Better Startup MBA?
Contact email@example.com with any questions
The Blockchain may be the more notable technological innovation that has come out of Cryptocurrency. In 2017, we will see a plethora of uses for the Blockchain. We’ve already seen the Blockchain being used for diamonds (Everledger) and land title registrations (BenBen). Expect to see even more startups going after new and currently unimagined uses for the Blockchain.
The Year of Mobile (again)
2016 saw monthly mobile money transactions exceeding one billion per month (more than double what PayPal processes). Expect to see even more proliferation of mobile, as a payment platform in both emerging and mature markets. Mobile wallets will become ubiquitous, while contactless and peer to peer payments on mobile will eat into credit card transactions.
Katlego Maphai, the founder of Yoco and a Techstars mentor remarked: “Money ‘electronification’ is getting a strong push globally, even at a policy level in some nations out of necessity. Sub-Saharan Africa will be active in this trend. It presents substantial growth opportunities for ambitious startups. Through this, I expect to see an increase in VC activity in the ubiquitous payments space, with expansion activities coming out of fintech ventures from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. It may include some potential ecosystem collaborations across these markets.”
The Rise of the Robots…AI
2016 saw a milestone breakthrough in AI with Google’s DeepMind beating the world number one at the extremely complex game of Go. Expect to see AI becoming more prolific in combating fraud, improving credit scoring, impacting insurance and a new stream of robo-advisory across multiple segments.
Barclays Rise is growing an ecosystem for fintech in Africa, leading this initiative is Yasaman Hadjibashi, Group Chief Creation Officer for Barclays Africa. She had this to say: “As one of the major opportunities for our continent to make a difference, I see alternative lending frameworks, products and experiences as a unique chance to help Africa’s emerging generation youth, customers, employees and entrepreneurs on their path to success. Therefore, fintech ventures, industry experts, researchers, advanced data scientists and innovators, who are actively focused on this opportunity, are my personal target for new exciting collaborations and solution execution.”
To apply to the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars in Cape Town complete the application here. Applications close on 5 February 2017.
Tanzanian micro-health insurance startup Jamii Africa has just raised US$750,000 seed funding for expanding across the country and into East and Central Africa.
Jamii launched in January 2015 and has built a mobile policy management platform that performs all the administration activities of an insurer, and allows users to access cheap insurance via USSD (starting at $1 per month).
Jamii plans to launch in five other African countries in 2017, and part of the plan will be to leverage their strategic partnerships with Jubilee Insurance and Vodacom Tanzania to enable mobile premium collection and a cashless facility from over 400 hospitals.
Interview with Lilian Makoi, Founder of Jamii
What inspired you to start Jamii?
Seeing the husband of my maid lose his life because they didn’t have $25 to access medical help, was a wake up call for me. I became curious to find out how big the problem was and how I could build a solution to cater for this underserved community: 50 million Tanzanians have no health insurance.
How did Jamii get to where it is today?
We started off with two people in the team, myself and Chris Rabi as my first angel investor. The team grew to 5 people while still struggling with company expenses and entrepreneurship experience. Our first break was forming a partnership with the biggest insurer in the country, Jubilee Insurance, and the biggest telecom, Vodacom Tanzania.
Our biggest break was getting into an accelerator program, the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars. It was there that we got to understand the value of our innovation, how to communicate it, build a financial model and test out as many strategies as we could.
This helped us go to market faster and the right way. In no time we were conversant with the startup world, started raising and grew valuable networks. This enabled us to raise our seed round $750k which now places us nicely for regional expansion.
How has the Barclays Techstars Accelerator helped shape the business?
The Barclays Accelerator equipped us with the required business design, management and growth skills we badly needed. Through the program we gained amazing connections and introductions that become investors and mentors. We were able to understand what kind of funding we needed, what percentage had to be donors, and what had to be a commercial raise. By associating with the brands Barclays Africa and Techstars, we’ve eased the journey to raising funds, and growing our partnerships.
How do you think as a startup you can get the most out of mentorship?
I strongly believe in mentors to be a vital part of a startup’s success. However, I personally believe it’s not so much about the number of mentors that you may have, but about the fit between the mentor and the company. Having a good fit allows you to make the most out of the relationship – build great partnerships, learn important lessons, and embrace opportunities.
How will you use the $750k and where do you hope to see the business by the end of 2018?
With our seed raise, we’ll take our marketing strategy to market and impact the lives of 720,000 by 2018. We have amazing partners, a great team and fantastic strategy that only needed funding to change the world!)
What advice do you have for startups who want to raise money?
Two words: great product!
There are fewer than three weeks before applications close for the second class of the Barclays Accelerator programme, powered by Techstars in Cape Town, an initiative aimed at uncovering the next M-Pesa or Paypal by working with exceptional fintech entrepreneurs innovating Africa’s financial services industry.
The Barclays Accelerator is a three-month intensive startup accelerator programme, focused on innovations in financial services. This partnership between Barclays and Techstars brings two global networks together into one to offer entrepreneurs unprecedented access not only to a leading international bank but also to Techstars’ mentor and investor relationships.
With applications open to startups from anywhere in the world, 10 companies will ultimately be selected to participate in our 13-week programme in Cape Town. The selected startups will also be able to leverage our Barclays Techstars Accelerator programme offices in London, New York and Tel Aviv as we connect fintech powerhouses across the major finance capitals.
We work with startups across the financial services sphere – payments, lending, financial inclusion, digital banking solutions, trading, cyber security, data analytics, machine learning, cryptocurrency, insurance, wealth management and more.
We have seen significant growth in some of the companies we have assisted through our Accelerator programme in recent months. Jamii Africa, for example, has just raised $750,000 of external funding. These funds will help scale the company, which offers a micro health insurance platform from as little as $1 a month, so that more low-income communities across Africa will be able to access the product.
Another startup that has participated in the Barclays Accelerator programme – Ghanaian venture Asoriba – has scaled to 70,000 users and expanded its geographic reach through a new partnership with Interswitch in Nigeria. Beyonic, the mass payments platform has entered three additional African markets in three months, and continues to grow their partnership base.
If your startup has the potential to grow exponentially in a short space of time with the right support, join the Barclays Accelerator and apply here.
We will accept the last applications on February 5th, following which 10 ventures will be selected to join the Accelerator programme in Cape Town from May 9th, 2017.
Alex Iskold, Managing Director of Techstars NYC, has written about Top 10 Reasons to Join (or not Join) an Accelerator.
In addition, here are 5 Reasons to join the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Cape Town programme:
Reason #1: You get access to INCREDIBLE mentors
Our mentors are a diverse and amazing collection of financial services executives, successful entrepreneurs, city power-brokers, top angel investors and venture capitalists, as well as experts with backgrounds in product, engineering, legal, marketing and finance.
In addition, you get instant access and mentorship to senior Barclays team members who define success as you being successful. Our mentors are well known to us and are trusted, connected and effective as evidenced by the qualitative and quantitative feedback we get back from our founders.
Reason #2: You really grow & accelerate your business
The program is rigorous and results driven. We help the companies make tangible progress and help grow and accelerate their business. 90 percent of the companies that joined our 2016 class were able to announce a proof-of-concept with Barclays on Demo Day.
At Demo Day, companies present their business to a curated group of investors and partners. Our last Demo Day was held at The Lookout in Cape Town’s Waterfront and 500 people were in attendance, of which over half were VC’s or angels.
The companies announced various deals, partnerships and proof of concepts that were initiated and agreed during the programme. These included deals with Barclays, Quirk, Sage, BermanBros, and many others.
Reason #3: Companies have gone on to raise very successful funding rounds
Having paying customers helps generate investor interest, and this interest has translated into very successful funding rounds. Companies such as Post Quantum, Ravelin, Do Pay and Cutover are just a few examples.
Globally, Techstars has the highest success rates for follow-on funding, over 90 successful portfolio company exits and $2.4 Billion of combined portfolio financing.
Reason #4: You get a network for life
Techstars is not just an intensive programme. It is one of the largest and fastest growing networks of entrepreneurs around the world. Once you are a part of Techstars, you are a part of Techstars for life, and you get to be part of the network that helps you go faster and accelerate your current and future businesses.
For instance, Techstars has a team of seven people in the Valley that run partnerships and M&A, which companies tap into many months or years after they finish the programme.
Reason #5: In Cape Town, you are at one of the key hubs of the African global FinTech scene
Cape Town is a great place to build a startup and is a melting pot of rich culture, talent and energy.
You will be surrounded by a fantastic and supportive ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and corporate innovators.
Many of Africa’s top banks, corporates and asset managers are also located here in the Western Cape.
Africa is fertile ground for new fintech services which are leveraging the power of communities and social media to make financial services more relevant. The technological boom in the financial sector is not only making waves in innovation, but it’s also creating jobs and redefining employment roles within existing, traditional businesses.
And, of course, we boast the one and only ‘Table Mountain’!
What Founders Say
Founders appreciate and value our work. We received an incredibly high, 100% Net Promoter Score (NPS) score from the latest Techstars Barclays Africa 2016 programme. Here is what founders are saying about our program:
“The Techstars Accelerator Program took our company from an idea with potential into a growing business in just a few short months. The Techstars mantra of getting 12 months worth of growth done in 3 months really is true. During the crucial stage of our business where we had to decide which direction to focus on, we received invaluable feedback and input from a diverse and large number of experienced mentors. The Techstars network and reputation has also opened so many doors for us and has catapulted us forward with introductions to clients and investors. We would highly recommend it for start-up entrepreneurs that want to grow fast and have big ambitions for their business”.
Bradley – CEO, Wizzpass
“Unlike other companies in the accelerator, when entering the program BenBen was yet to launch our company. We were still working to finalize our development and narrow our focus for customer acquisition. The program was essential for these aspects as we were able to get introduced to Barclays executives, industry leaders, and mentors possessing valuable insight. These connections lead us to bringing on our first customer in Barclays, being able to validate our business model through existing similar companies, and find creative solutions to finalize our development. We are now leveraging the investor network as we are raising our next round of funding. We plan to continue to leverage this network as we scale BenBen throughout Ghana and the world”.
Daniel Bloch – CEO, BenBen
Being part of The BarclaysAccelerator Programme not only got us our 1st major investor but raised the profile of our company massively! We came in seeking to solve for an efficient and effective acquisition strategy and the Barclays Accelerator facilitated a controlled pilot, mentors with amazing ideas and experience and associates to help with the implementation. To top it all we had a ‘cofounder’ figure (Yossi) to assist us through decisions,negotiations and the stress that comes with entrepreneurship! Jamii is the beast it is because of The Barclays Accelerator Programme!
Lilian Makoi – CEO, Jamii
Apply before 5th February 2017 and join us for an incredible journey. Note, we review applications on a rolling basis so the earlier you apply, the better.
Want to know more?
- Check out the full re-cap and pitches from our recent Demo Day.
- Watch our webinar here
- Watch our video
- Stay updated on our blog
- Book an intro call with Yossi Hasson, MD of Techstars
- For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Check out Techstars’ FAQs
We are excited to announce that applications have opened for the second class of the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars in Cape Town!
We are looking for exceptional founders who are tackling difficult problems and big opportunities. We are specifically looking for founders who are beyond the MVP stage and working on applications of financial inclusion, mobile solutions, insure-tech, payments, big data, agri-tech and beyond. The most attractive applications are those that can have a major impact across Barclays globally.
By combining Barclays’ 300+ years of financial services experience with the exceptional mentorship-driven model and entrepreneurial network of Techstars, we offer an unfair advantage to 10 startups. Since financial services is a global sector and Barclays is a global partner, we welcome applications from companies across the globe but with an African focus.
The programme will start on 9th of May and culminates with Demo Day on the 2nd of August 2017. Apply today.
We are holding open meetings in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch, Lagos, Accra and remotely through Google Hangouts. If you’d like to meet with us, please fill out this meeting request form.
Throughout November – February: Cape Town
Throughout November – February: remote Skype meetings
6 & 7 December: Lagos (Africa Tech Summit)
15 & 16 December: Accra (Women in Tech)
17 January: Johannesburg
19 January: Stellenbosch
We’re hosting an event during the application phase for interested startups that will give you a taste of the Techstars experience for a day. You will hear all about the programme from our alumni and executives from Barclays and Techstars.
January 25th: from 9am – 6pm in Cape Town. Please contact email@example.com if you’d like to attend.
We’ve created this webinar to answer some of the questions that you may have about our programme. Please ensure that you watch it before you meet with us so that we can make the most out of the time we have.
Also, we’ll be hosting two live, group information sessions. These are interactive sessions where participants will be able to ask questions and hear more about the specifics of the programme.
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Today we are excited to announce the first ever class of the Barclays Accelerator, Powered by Techstars on the African continent. It may be the most geographically diverse accelerator program ever for Techstars! Applicants from over 45 countries applied for the spots in the 3-month intensive program. The 10 companies who were selected join us from nine different countries (South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania, United States, Lebanon and the United Kingdom). The companies encompass a wide array of verticals within FinTech – including international payments, mobile medical insurance, land title registration via blockchain and financial inclusion. This diversity signifies the breadth and depth of the entrepreneurial talent that exists in this class.
By combining Barclays’ 300+ years of financial services experience with the mentorship-driven model and entrepreneurial network of Techstars, we offer a game-changing advantage to our startups.
We’re incredibly excited to announce and welcome the ten companies that will be joining and also want to take this opportunity to thank our mentors. Their time and support is essential for this accelerator. We couldn’t do it without you! 2016 is going to be an amazing year for both Techstars and Africa!
Here are the companies for the 2016 Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars in Cape Town:
iNuka Pap (Kenya) – A mobile platform that partners with credit co-operatives to allow their members to conveniently deposit, withdraw and access instant micro-loans as well as access other credit services.
BenBen (United States) – A solution for governments to convert physical land titles to digital copies on an irrefutable platform secured on the Blockchain. Additionally, they provide citizens with a mobile application, website, USSD platform for them to manage their properties.
Beyonic (United States) – Enable businesses to quickly deploy and manage two-way mobile money payments to eliminate the need to make payments using cash. Through the use of web services and APIs, businesses can access payee and workflow management systems that greatly reduce fraud.
SimbaPay (UK) – Send money to family and friends bank accounts or mobile wallets in Africa (from abroad) in a convenient and cheap way. Customers can also use their bill settlement technology to pay merchants in Africa (such as universities, utilities). You can also open a bank account back home using the app.
Asoriba (Ghana) – Simplifies church administration for leaders and improves engagement with members via mobile apps.
Social Lender (Nigeria) – A lending platform, licensed to financial institutions, that determines credit worthiness based on social reputation on social media platforms.
WizzPass (South Africa) – Complete parking solutions app allowing entry and exit to shopping malls, airports, commercial property, office parks, residential property and gated communities via your smartphone.
Tech4Farmers (Uganda) – Provides farmers with real-time access to market information through an electronic commodity exchange and electronic warehouse receipt system.
Re-Able (Lebanon) – Provides tools and apps that empower the financial literacy and inclusion of people with special needs.
Edge Point (Tanzania) – Micro-health insurance that is administered from the mobile handset. From cover registration, options browsing, premium payment (via mobile money), profile management, benefits wallet (ledger) management to claim (hospital) payments.