“Find an investor who supplies not only capital, but strategic support. An investor that genuinely understands your vision, as well as how to build a company like yours, and then grow together.”
This advice to African startups comes from Seni Sulyman, country director of Andela Nigeria. It is worth taking, as Andela this week became one of the most funded African startups ever, to the tune of over US$80 million.
The pan-African coding school announced this week it had secured US$40 million in Series C funding from a host of investors in a landmark round, adding to the US$24 million Series B funding round led by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in June of last year and previous capital raised.
Sulyman said money was not the only consideration, however, and welcomed the arrival on Andela’s board of Pule Taukobong, the founder of CRE Venture Capital, which led the latest round. Taukobong, Sulyman said, had been part of the Andela story from the very beginning back in 2014.
“Through Africa Angels Network, Pule was our first institutional investor from the continent. Now, together with his partner Pardon Makumbe, he’s grown CRE into one of the most significant venture funds based in Africa, with the ability to lead a round of this calibre,” he said. “CRE, like our other investors, understands the potential of Andela – investing in African talent and connecting them with the world – and that we’re only just getting started.”
Sulyman’s further advice to startups raising funds was to build a startup “that looks at the world and wants to solve a problem that exists globally”.
“And then put your head down and build. When your business looks attractive and promising, investors will come looking for you,” he said.
All of Andela’s previous institutional investors participated in the US$40 million round, with Sulyman saying the company was fortunate to already have investors that know the business and understood what it is building.
“Their ongoing support has been amazing. It was great also to bring on another Africa-focused investor, TLCom, and welcome Omobola Johnson, TLcom senior partner and former ICT minister of Nigeria, to Andela’s board,” he said.
The company now plans to launch offices in two additional African countries over the next year and double its developer base from 500 to 1,000.
“We’ll keep investing in our ability to attract and retain many of Africa’s future technology leaders. We will also continue to expand our Distributed Learning Community to support developer ecosystems across Africa,” Sulyman said.
Becoming one of the best funded African tech startups ever, he said, was a “major validation” of all the work that had gone into building the ecosystem, and specifically a pat on the back for every team member that has given their all to make the company successful so far.
“The tech ecosystem is still in its very early days, but momentum is gathering. Today’s announcement, and others that have taken place recently, are the strongest indication yet that Africa is here to do business – with Africa, and with the world,” Sulyman said.