SA’s anti-piracy startup Custos raises $420k from TIA


Stellenbosch-based bitcoin bounty startup Custos Media Technologies has raised another round of funding, this time from South Africa’s Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), which will provide an injection of ZAR5.9 million (US$420,000) into the startup over the next two years.

Custos – founded by staff at Stellenbosch University and based at the LaunchLab – combats digital piracy by embedding bitcoin bounties as watermarks within videos and movies.

These bounties can then be collected by downloaders using a free tool if the media passes out of the control of the intended recipient, allowing media producers to identify pirated versions of their content.

The funding round from the TIA is the third in total for Custos, which earlier this year concluded a round of financing with investors that including Innovus Technology Transfer and the New York-based Digital Currency Group. Innovus, owned by Stellenbosch University, also provided a funding round last year. In total Cusos has raised ZAR12 million (US$850,000).

“TIA has again shown their commitment to support early-­stage technology businesses in South Africa. The funding agreement will allow Custos to accelerate product development, while simultaneously freeing up resources to spend on bringing the product to the widest possible market,” said G­J van Rooyen, chief executive officer (CEO) of Custos.

“Custos is a good example of the kind of innovation ventures for which TIA was established to provide support, where science and technology advancements are the basis for creating new products, services and global enterprises,” said Segopotso Moshapo, head of ICT strategic technology area at TIA.

The startup is targeting the global content protection market, using bitcoin blockchain to create a “tracking technology” for media piracy. It is currently serving clients in the film industry, and is collaborating with the United Kingdom (UK)-­based Erudition Digital to bring its solution to e-book publishing.


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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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