Fundraising: Mobiflock, used in 160 countries, makes smartphones and tablets safe for kids

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Learn more about the entrepreneurs selected to fundraise in VC4Africa’s June Cohort. Below we interview VC4Africa member and DEMO Africa 2012 laureate Vanessa Clark of MobiflockSouth Africa’s successful mobile safety and security company.

What’s the business opportunity you address and the essence of your business plan?

“Mobiflock makes smartphones and tablets safe for kids. This means children get to benefit from all the amazing advantages of mobile communications technology, without being at risk of the very real dangers that are out there. Parents learn about how their children are using their mobile devices, and have peace of mind that appropriate safety measures and early warning systems are in place on their child’s first smartphone or tablet.

Mobiflock is flexible enough to suit varying family requirements for online safety, and can also “grow up” with the child, so restrictions can be reduced as the child gets older. It is the antidote to the big on/off internet safety switch and doesn’t ruin all the fun – and all the benefits – of having a smartphone or tablet.”

How can you proof your business will deliver?

“We are already being used in 160 countries around the world and have been endorsed by child safety experts internationally. We’re also in the process of closing a number of partnerships with edtech companies in the US and Europe that will put Mobiflock into the hands of hundreds of thousands of children.

Finally, and most importantly, we regularly get feedback from parents using the service to tell us that we are keeping their kids safe. Most recently, the mom of a child with ADHD told us how much Mobiflock had helped her daughter get enough sleep at night and avoid too many distractions.”

How do you look back at your participation in DEMO Africa 2012?

“Personally DEMO Africa was one of the highlights of this startup journey I’m on. I strongly suspect that many of the people I met at DEMO Africa and have kept in touch with are going to become global technology superstars in the not too distant future!

From Mobiflock’s point of view the endorsement, awareness and feedback was very important. Our involvement in DEMO Africa was a big credential builder. Since DEMO we have launched Mobiflock My Child for BlackBerry and iOS, launched the geo-fencing component of the location service, launched a fleet of personal and device security services, and we’re about to launch what we believe to be the first safe browser for BlackBerry … so the tech is coming along nicely, as are the number of signups for the service.

More recently I got to pitch Mobiflock as one of the top 20 entrepreneurs at the Worldbank and Infodev’s Global Forum in South Africa, on the back of our DEMO Africa involvement – where I also participated in a panel discussing women in tech in Africa.”

How have you financed the business to date?

“We’re privately funded to date, and also have been revenue-generating since commercial launch more than a year ago.”

What kind of investor(s) are you looking for, and which milestones do you want to reach with the investment?

“The current round will be with private investors again, and will allow us to complete the necessary technical work required to fulfill the partnership agreements we are signing. We are also working on an edtech service – for schools and other organizations – and will need to develop and market this. This will bring us to a healthy position to look at additional funding or alternative next steps.”

How do you use VC4Africa, as a platform and as a community?

“We use VC4Africa to raise awareness of the Mobiflock service to potential funders, partners and customers. Personally, I use it to find out what else is happening in the startup scene in Africa too.”

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs who are considering to apply for DEMO Africa 2013?

Smiling: “Do it! Prepare your company story, go with a strong pitch, and be passionate. When you are there, spend as much time with the other startups as you can, sharing war stories and experiences, making friends and getting input on your idea. Top tip: the judges and audience will hear amazing stories from around 40 incredible entrepreneurs at Demo. What makes you stand out and be memorable?”

For more information see Mobiflock’s VC4Africa venture profile. Only investors registered on VC4Africa can get access to private documents and all other details of the ventures, and express their interest to invest. 

Inspired to launch your product in front of a global audience? Apply to be a part of DEMO Africa 2013!