Nigerian startup Sendbox, which provides delivery, escrow payments and authentic reviews for people who use social media platforms for e-commerce, has secured funding from early-stage fund Microtraction.
Founded by Emotu Balogun and Olusegun Afolahan, Sendbox is building a platform that provides shipping, escrow payments, and discovery services to merchants and customers who carry out e-commerce transactions using social channels like Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.
The platform allows users to safely partake in e-commerce on distributed social platforms by providing a means to identify trustworthy merchants, securely pay for items, and ship to domestic and international destinations.
Sendbox has now raised funding from Nigerian early-stage investment fund Microtraction, which invests up to US$65,000 in startups at the very earliest stage of their development. The company has backed a host of Nigerian startups in the last year, including Accounteer, Riby, Thank U Cash, CowryWise, Bitkoin Africa, Wallet.ng, Allpro and Stack Dx. As ever, the exact amount invested by Microtraction remains undisclosed.
“The way e-commerce happens on social platforms like Instagram and Facebook in Africa is broken. These platforms aren’t originally built for e-commerce and even though they facilitate a lot of peer-to-peer e-commerce transactions, they lack the necessary infrastructure and support structures typically present in traditional e-commerce platforms like Amazon and AliExpress to coordinate and regulate these transactions for their users. This is especially prevalent in Nigeria and other emerging markets,” said Microtraction partner Dayo Koleowo.
Microtraction has invested in Sendbox with a view to tackling these issues, but Koleowo said when the firm originally met the startup’s founders they were focusing on selling their software to delivery service partners and integrating with e-commerce websites, banks and other large organisations that required delivery services.
“They quickly realised that the sales cycle for the customer categories was too long and it didn’t appear they really needed their software,” he said. “After some interactions with them and also thinking through the product value, market problem and business model, they decided to focus on finding and providing real value to their users as well as identifying a new target audience – merchants who sell via social channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.”
Sendbox has already signed up over 4,000 merchants, and gained approximately 1,000 users in the last six months.