Kenyan incubator Nailab creates direct link between startups, investors

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Kenyan incubator Nailab last week held its first ever “VC carousel”, looking to create a direct link between startups and investors.

In what it claims is the first of its kind among local incubators and accelerators, the Nailab carousel saw entrepreneurs who have gone through the Nailab incubation programme pitch to and engage with early stage and growth investors.

The three-hour session, which took on a pitching and one-on-one engagement structure, saw Kejahunt, Kuhustle, Lipaplus, Mobu and Betsafi speak to investors. Three of these – Kejahunt, Lipaplus and Betsafi – received investment prospects from one of the investors.

“The session was an eye-opener for us startups to realise that the industry is real and investors are out there, and hence it is very key to put our houses in order,” said Kejahunt founder Joshua Mutua.

Nailab chief executive officer (CEO) Sam Gichuru said over the last five years he had been privileged to see the majority of Nailab startups grow from simply ideas into investable ventures.

“We have held a number of preliminary closed-door investor meetings as we continue to grow our network,” he said.

“We are focused on expanding similar sessions for any startup we come across that fits the criteria investors are looking for. This is a great opportunity to create linkages for startups and smart money in an effort to bridge the missing middle.”

The investors, who were largely institutional investors, comprised of Sarah Ngamau, vice president at Kuramo Capital Management, Ali Hussein, principal associate at Hussein & Associates, Kimathi Ikaio of Acumen Fund, and Peter Nakitare of Novastar Ventures.

Nailab will be putting out a call for businesses to pitch in the sessions in the coming months.

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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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