Kenyan e-commerce startup Sky.Garden has raised US$1.2 million in a round led by Jesper Drescher, the Norway-based TRK Group, The Katapult Accelerator Follow-up Fund, and a syndicate of Danish business angels led by Futuristic.vc.
Sky.Garden is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for mobile commerce that is built specifically for African businesses. Its easy-to-use online marketplace allows informal traders, SMEs and established businesses to sell their products.
Launched nine months ago, the startup has registered over 3,000 unique sellers who now have access to their very own Sky.Garden web shops. These web shop owners have more than 23,000 unique products uploaded across 30 different categories.
“We are thrilled to be receiving the continued support and recognition for our platform from such influential investors, especially in the highly competitive market that we are in. The positive impact we have had on small and medium sized businesses across the region encourages us to continue to build the very best e-commerce platform our market has seen,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Daniel Maison.
Kenya’s online commerce space is seeing more and more players joining the fight in 2018, with small and medium sized businesses turning to e-commerce to expand their sales radius.
Martin Majlund, Sky.Garden’s co-founder and chief operations officer (COO), said the company had seen a huge opportunity in Kenya with its rapidly growing smartphone penetration and access to reliable data connectivity.
“Every one of these sellers have a smartphone in their pockets, huge followings on social media platforms, and amazing products to sell. Sky.Garden is simply putting all these pieces together to produce an amazing e-commerce tool for them to grow their businesses and increase their earnings,” he said.
Their next stage of development will see the company launch its next generation merchant platform later this year, to bring disruptive e-commerce management to its rapidly growing merchant base.
“An important reason for us investing early in Sky.Garden was their strong team with complimentary experience from large retail, venture building, tech and their local markets,” said Haakon Brunell, managing director at Oslo-based Katapult Accelerator, which took Sky.Garden into one of its programmes last year.
“Further, their large market potential of African e-commerce and how they are tackling this using a novel way of distributed transporters and reaching small-medium businesses, creating important social and economic impact in the region in the process. They grew their business in an impressive way during the Katapult programme and have continued on this trajectory, and we are excited to follow up with an investment in their recent round.”
TRK Group was attracted to Sky.Garden by the first-rate team of hands-on African e-commerce talent and global consumer executives with anchoring passion, said founder and CEO Trond Riiber Knudsen.
“Sky.Garden is uniquely tailored to the fast growing African e-commerce scene, where bringing existing retailers online with a “Shopify for Africa” theme is key to unlocking growth,” he said.
Futuristic.vc founding partner Christian Jantzen described Sky.Garden as “hands-down one of the most interesting startups in Kenya right now, and on the African continent”.
“We’re thrilled to support Sky.Garden in their quest to empower local merchants in the age of technology. They’re on the rise when it comes to technology. Therefore, we see this as the perfect time to enter one of fastest growing markets on the planet,” he said.