SA marketing tech startup closes $457k round


Johannesburg-based marketing technology startup has concluded first-round funding, securing ZAR6.5 million (US$457,000) to further develop its business in South Africa and abroad.

Launched earlier this year, crowdsources professional feedback on advertising and marketing campaigns, providing advertising agencies and brands with the ability to get meaningful early-stage input on creative concepts, storyboards, apps and websites from an extensive network of independent specialists.

The startup began fundraising in May, but has now concluded the round with investment from African boutique investment and advisory firm HAVAIC and UK-based investor Kevin Gaskell.

“We identify scalable early-stage businesses like that have international potential – something that isn’t perceptible just by scrutinising a balance sheet,” says Ian Lessem, chief executive officer (CEO) of HAVAIC. “Enthusiastic management, consistent delivery, servicing globally-relevant markets, as well as a culture that attracts the best talent, are the hallmarks of a startup that will result in funding becoming a smart investment.” co-founder Trevor Wolfe said it is rare that an emerging company with global aspirations does not require some kind of cash injection.

“Technology moves at such a rapid pace and the barrier to market entry is comparatively low, so tech-based startups need investment to experiment, test new versions and refine their platforms,” he said.

Wolfe said early stage businesses are often still defining their sales and pricing models, which means they may not have the proven profits that traditional financiers such as banks, private equity investors and even some of the more established venture capital funds want to see before considering funding.

“Entering the funding phase is exciting because it means we can go-to-market faster and start international expansion. It is also frustrating as most venture capital funders in South Africa prefer mature and steady businesses while investing at an early-stage valuation,” he said.

“Throughout the initial discovery process, HAVAIC was the most ‘founder-friendly’. We wanted investors that would genuinely back our team, vision and product while bringing more to the table than just capital.”

Grant Rock, co-founder of HAVAIC, believes South Africa is on the brink of an entrepreneurial revolution thanks to homegrown talent, established infrastructure such as high-speed internet, and few early-stage barriers to entry, creating an environment that is good for emerging businesses.

“Compared to launching in the US or Europe, South Africa offers startups like several advantages so they can hire more South Africans faster, attract offshore revenue, and scale internationally,” he said. has signed 25 brand clients in South Africa, Asia and North America, increasing revenue by 150 per cent in that time. It is eyeing multinational FCMG, tech and automotive clients, an expanded product suite and compound annual growth over 50 per cent within five years.


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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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