Congratulations to Mobofree, Africa’s mobile ‘scam-free’ market place to buy, sell and swap products! Mobofree secured a significant growth funding from the Netherlands basedeVentures Africa Fund (eVA Fund), part of the VC4Africa Investor Network, and co-investorMillion Monkeys.
Around six month ago Mobofree joined the VC4Africa platform for their fundraising campaign. We had a chance to catch up with Mobofree’s CEO Neringa Pazusyte; read the interview below. “We expect to become Africa’s leading online marketplace”. “VC4Africa is a great platform allowing entrepreneurs to find investors… Just don’t forget – you must be an active VC4Africa community member”.
Congratulations with the investment you secured! What have you secured, how will you use it and will you raise more?
“Unfortunately we can’t disclose the investment sum. But the investment we got allows us to focus on our business and active expansion instead of fundraising. I believe it’s too early to speak about a next round; our main focus now is to achieve our targets and milestones with the funds we just got. The funds will be used to consolidate our positions in our target markets, strengthen our team and polish our product in order to deliver the most dynamic experience for our users.”
What makes Mobofree interesting for investors?
“MoboFree.com is a mobile social marketplace that allows meeting new friends and buying, selling, swapping stuff with trusted people quick and safely. Since we launched MoboFree in 2011, the concept quickly went viral, attracting immediate registrations from people that enjoyed the possibility to make online deals in a social and safe environment.
Currently we have over 3 million registered users from Africa, with the biggest share in Nigeria – over 1.5 million registered users. All those users make up to 5 million page views every day and upload hundreds of items to the marketplace. More than 3000 new members register to our project every day. The Opera State of Mobile Web report of June 2012 confirms that MoboFree is the 8th most visited site in Nigeria, 5th in Zimbabwe and also has a good following in other African countries like Malawi.
Mobofree started generating revenue in 6 months after the start and we are self-supportive now. We have a good traction, proven and working business model, and a product well adapted to the local market, which I believe makes us interesting for Africa targeted investors.”
How did you find your investors to date?
“Before the present investment we’ve attracted a small investment from a business angel and from the StartupHighway startup accelerator. We’ve approached them in quite a traditional way – sending introductions and arranging live meetings to make a pitch. Getting small investments in the first stage wasn’t hard, because we already had a product, a solid user base and revenue. For the present round we were very motivated to find “smart money” from investors focused on Africa.
We are very exited to have attracted investors like eVA Fund and Million Monkeys to get on board. They not only provide us with a solid financial injection, but also are adding a huge relevant business network and African market know-how to the equation. This investment will allow us to continue and speed up our growth in sub-Saharan Africa and deepen our focus on delivering the most dynamic experience for our users.”
For introductions you approached VC4Africa and other contacts. What would you recommend to other entrepreneurs who are wondering what the VC4Africa community can do for them?
“VC4Africa is a great platform allowing entrepreneurs to find investors, new partners and finally – get knowledge in specific areas like fundraising. Just don’t forget – you must be an active VC4Africa community member to extract the best value from it. It’s not enough to register, you must participate – build a network, search for mentors, update your profile etcetera.”
What points of advice do you have for entrepreneurs seeking investments?
“First, fund raising is a hard job and requires preparation – do not approach investors if you don’t have solid looking presentation and business plan. In most cases you will have only one chance to make a good impression, so do your best.
Second, get as far as possible without private investment. The more users/revenues your company has before looking for fund raise, the more it has proved to investors that the idea and business model works.
Third, don’t take the first money that is offered to you. Raising money is a two-way street. You need to make yourself attractive to investors, but you also need to select investors who are right for you. So it’s necessary to evaluate what investor gives besides money – does he have an appropriate network, expertise, etcetera.”
How did you get involved in the VC4Africa community?
“VC4Africa was a huge discovery for me. I’ve registered because I expected to find some tips and info about fundraising. However I’ve quickly discovered that VC4Africa can give much more value – it also helps at building a professional network and finding business partners.”
Brian Hirmanof eVA Fund: “Since we started eVA Fund early 2010, we were actively looking for interesting companies in the field of online market places and classifieds to invest in. The strategy of Mobofree to integrate social network elements into classifieds boards, makes buying and selling online more fun, personal and more important: safer. We all know that scam in online market places is a big problem. The severe measures MoboFree undertakes to avoid this scam on its platform is something we firmly believe in as a key driver for long term success.”
eVA Fund is one of the investors part of the VC4Africa Investor Network, the largest network of dedicated SME investors interested in supporting African based ventures. We recently profiled 40 investors from the VC4Africa network.
Investors who register a VC4Africa Pro Accounts can get access to private documents and all other details of the ventures registered on VC4Africa, and express their interest to invest.
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