DEMO Africa alumni ChopUp – Nigeria’s social gaming platform – secured USD 100K from investors

Congratulations to the ChopUp team! We had a chance to catch up with Chopup co-founder Bayo Puddicombe (DEMO Africa alumnus & VC4Africa member) after the company closed their Series A investment round from a group of local and international angel investors. “Over the next five years, we want to be one of the top five mobile game development companies by revenue operating in Africa.”

“Africa my Africa, Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs…” – starting their DEMO Africa 2013 pitch with the first lines from a famous poem by David Diop and unfolding their company’s success story convincingly and with humor, the ChopUp founders left a great impression on the DEMO Africa audience last year.

Before starting Chopup the co-founders Bayo Puddicombe & Zubair Abubakar already had a strong reputation in Nigeria’s developers scene, with one of their games reaching 350.000 downloads. Supported by Lagos incubator CCHub they developed in-game-payment platform Chopup “to help people across the continent monetize great ideas and turn them into profitable businesses”. Already 4 months after launch they reached 58.000 user activations, and they have been growing steadily ever since.

As a Chopup user you can see the games your friends are playing, apps they are downloading, levels they are finishing, and next to the developer the platform gets a percentage of transactions.

How much have you raised and are you still looking for more investors?

“This is our first round of actual funding; we had operated as a boot strapped business up to this point. The total investment amounts to just a little above 100,000 USD and in all, we have a total of five investors. We’re always in fund-raising mode so yes we are still seeking investors. However, any conversations at this point should be with regards to a series A deal.”

How did the investments come together?

“The investment came from a small group of private individuals from across Africa and also an international individual. We were lucky to find this group with experience across many diverse fields such as banking, telecom, and more.

We also have seasoned start-up entrepreneurs such as Tayo Oviosu of Paga and Ayodeji Adewunmi of Jobberman on board, who are obviously much further along on their journeys. The experience of this group really puts us in a very favorable position with regards to board composition and also on how to focus our energies with regards to execution.

Some of the investors we had been in discussions with for quite some time as advisors while seeking investment from other sources. We also met some of our investors via introductions from other advisors who happened to see a link between our vision and the interests of people within their networks.”

How was Chopup started?

“Chopup started when I met my co-founder Zubair Abubakar at the Institute for Venture Design (IVD), a premier incubation programme for start-up technology ventures. “We both had an interest in mobile and had already produced interesting applications as individuals before joining the program. From there we decided to join forces, as we were convinced that mobile will be the most pervasive and thus most powerful communication technology platform for Africa.”

Which milestones had you already reached before pitching at DEMO Africa last year, and what followed after this?

“Before pitching at DEMO Africa we had already successfully completed a pilot run of the Chopup platform using the Danfo Reloaded II game as a prototype. We were able to validate the market demand for local content and hit over 100,000 downloads in a period of about 6 months using only free user acquisition channels.

For us DEMO Africa was a once in a lifetime opportunity and the training camp before the event was also great in helping us fine-tune our story. Since then, we’ve refined and rebuilt the Chopup platform; release a new title called “Table Soccer” and also put together a full team to implement our game development.

It’s great to see that there are so many people striving to change the face of Africa. I don’t see us as being so far ahead, and as entrepreneurs you always have to be ready to tell your story. DEMO Africa happens to be the largest platform available to start-up companies in Africa to do just that.”

Which milestones do you want to reach now, and what do you hope to achieve with your company in the long run?

“We secured a seed round of funding to streamline our production, build up our games portfolio and to fine-tune our revenue generation strategies for the African market. With this investment we want to get the business operating in a scalable faction. Over the next five years, we want to be one of the top five mobile game development companies by revenue operating in Africa.”

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

“The VC4Africa network is significant part of how we keep in touch with the technology community. In fact, our journey to DEMO Africa started with our application on VC4Africa. Also, the platform gives us a channel to communicate with other entrepreneurs and also potential investors.

I think the VC4Africa network is providing a critical piece of the puzzle in building the African technology ecosystem and thus provides a significant lever that any entrepreneur operating in Africa would be wise to use in their favour.”

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