18-year-old secures record $435k Dragons’ Den SA investment

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The first series of Dragons’ Den SA ended last night with 18-year-old entrepreneur Emile McLennan gaining ZAR5 million (US$435,000) in funding from Vinny Lingham for his eShip business.

eShip connect shippers with local transporters, allowing a consignor to create a listing for what needs shipping before transporters place competing. Once a winning bidder is selected, the consignor pays 50 per cent of the fee through eShip, after which the delivery takes place and final fees and feedback are exchanged through the site.

McLennan arrived on the television show asking for ZAR5 million for a 30 per cent stake in eShip, with the dragons initially showing concern over his young age. McLennan countered this by saying he had sold his first online store business for ZAR250,000 (US$22,000) in order to fund eShip.

Lingham subsequently offered him the full ZAR5 million, but over a longer period of time, with the Gyft and Silicon Cape co-founder saying he would pay ZAR1 million (US$87,000) for 35 per cent of the business upfront, followed by ZAR4 million (US$348,000) at a to-be-determined equity share in two year intervals. He also opened the deal up to Gil Oved and Polo Leteka Radebe, with the former accepting.

McLennan accepted the offer, saying: “I’m very happy to have got two dragons who are very well respected in their respective fields working with me.”

Disrupt Africa has reported in recent weeks on other tech startups obtaining funding on the programme. Flowers marketplace SA Florist won ZAR3 million (US$270,000) in funding from all five investors, while rental listings platform Ekaya secured ZAR500,000 (US$45,000) from Lingham.

Two other tech-based companies appeared on last night’s finale, though they were unsuccessful in their bids for funding.

Shopstar, a platform that allows anyone to create and manage their own online shop, failed in its bid for ZAR1 million (US$87,000), with Lingham citing conflicts of interest and Oved saying he felt the idea was not original enough for a competitive market.

Thabo Moyake was also unsuccessful with his pitch for funding for his office administration software, which looks to create a paperless office. The dragons were unconvinced about his assertions around the competitiveness of the market, and all were out.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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