Johannesburg - Less than a year after launching, South African creative technology startup delvv.io has successfully concluded first-round funding, securing R6.5 million to further develop its business in South Africa and abroad.
A world first, delvv.io crowdsources professional feedback on advertising and marketing campaigns. The platform provides advertising agencies and brands the ability to get meaningful early-stage input on creative concepts, storyboards, apps and websites from an extensive network of independent specialists. This dramatically reduces the costs of testing new campaigns, and taking existing campaigns to new markets, while improving campaign performance.
Investment is led by African boutique investment and advisory firm HAVAIC, together with funding from UK-based investor Kevin Gaskell.
“We identify scalable early-stage businesses like delvv.io that have international potential – something that isn’t perceptible just by scrutinising a balance sheet,” says Ian Lessem, 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.”
“These are characteristics we recognise by spending time with entrepreneurs, learning about their industries and proposing financing arrangements that will drive long-term business growth –ultimately, this is what delivers favourable returns to long-term investors.”
Delvv.io’s founders, Trevor Wolfe and Remon Geyser, are no strangers to the sometimes-fraught process of attracting the venture capital that many tech startups must secure to transform a concept into a profit-generating company.
“It is rare that an emerging company with global aspirations does not require some kind of cash injection,” says Wolfe. “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.”
Wolfe explains that 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. This is where venture capital investment that doesn’t focus just on historical financial performance is vital for tech startups looking to bring their product to market and expand.
“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 prefermature and steady businesses while investing at an early-stage valuation,” says Wolfe, reflecting on the venture capital process in South Africa.
“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 that South Africa is on the brink of an entrepreneurial revolution thanks to homegrown talent, established infrastructure such as high-speed internet, and fewearly-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 delvv.io several advantages so they can hire more South Africans faster, attract offshore revenue, and scale internationally,” he says.
Delvv.io has had a significant first year, signing 25 brand clients in South Africa, Asia and North America while increasing revenue by 150% in that time, and staff complement to seven.
The startup was a finalist in this year’s FNB Business Innovation Awards and the winner of the Ventureburn Pitching Den that took place at the 2016 Innovation Summit in September. As a result, itwill compete in Silicon Valley’s Startup World Cup in 2017, for a US$1-million investment prize.
In the meantime, delvv.io is eyeing multinational FCMG, tech and automotive clients, an expanded product suite and compound annual growth over 50% within five years of opening its doors.
delvv.io is a creative and marketing technology platform that allows brands to crowdsource feedback on their creative concepts, campaigns, brands and products from a global panel of creative and advertising professionals. Using best practices in qualitative research, advertising testing and new advances in data processing, it is challenging an 80-year-old market research industry and allowing brands to quickly tap into on-the-ground insights.
HAVAIC is a boutique African advisory and investment solutions firm that specialises in partnering with businesses to scale them locally and abroad. By combining its advisory expertise with tailor-made capital solutions, HAVAIC is well placed to grow such businesses while protecting founders’ interests, and delivering returns of a targeted IRR of 30-40% to its investors.