The Safaricom’s USD 1 million Spark Venture Fund launched with great expectations, entrepreneurs eager to read about their first investments to be made by this corporate fund. Sendy Limited has become the first recipient to receive their investment and presents an interesting case study for more to come.
Sendy offers a marketplace for last-mile package delivery and logistics services, allowing customers to send packages and documents within Nairobi and its environs using a mobile application that connects them to motorcycle riders, and drivers of vans and pickup trucks.VC4A had the chance to connect Malaika Judd, the COO of Sendy. We asked her about the recent deal closed with the Safaricom Spark Venture Fund and her experiences raising capital.
Can you highlight the origins of the company and its inspiration?
“Meshack, Don, and Evanson (three Kenyan founders) all used to work together at MTL Systems where they worked on a parcel booking system for the intercity bus companies. When they implemented the system for Modern Coast, they realized that when people found out their package had arrived (say from Mombasa to Nairobi), the first thing they asked was… can I pay a bit more to get it delivered to my house? This need for door-to-door service was obvious from the start… They needed to build a company that could service the last mile / residential deliveries and pickup needs.”
What is special about Sendy, how are you creating value?
“We offer real-time tracking, 24/7 service, on-demand deliveries (vs. same day or next day), information about the service providers (riders & drivers), and then leverage our mobile platform to offer real time market pricing (the riders accept or reject the orders… so they basically set the value of each delivery).”
What is unique about your approach?
“We are not a courier business. Everyone thinks we are… but actually we are a marketplace for courier providers. Anyone who wants to do deliveries and passes our vetting process can ‘sell’ through our platform. Whether your on foot, ride a bicycle or a motorbike, drive a van or a pickup, manage a fleet of vehicles, or fly a plane… if you want to sell your services through Sendy – we’re happy to have you! We’re not trying to rebuild the existing vehicle / courier infrastructure. We’re trying to optimize and aggregate it to make it more transparent and efficient.
We’re perfectly tailored for E-commerce. With our easy to use API and our on-demand or scheduled delivery features, we make it easy for small e-commerce players to offer premium delivery services to their shoppers. Imagine… buy now, get delivered within an hour!”
Can you tell us about recent developments with the business?
“Lots of fun new stuff happening! We’ve integrated with the highly coveted Safaricom API to make customer payments and back-end processing of payments more seamless. We’ve launched services with vans, pickups, and 3Ton trucks! We have our first bicycle rider on the platform (and he’s killing it!!), and we’ve launched this week a special DONATE feature where we’ll pick up any clothing/gift donations for Hidden Talent Orphanage for FREE anywhere in the city.”
Why did you decide to raise capital and how will the money be used?
“Sendy was running for a year on Friends & Family money. We had small amounts of investment to help us pilot some ideas, buy gps trackers & phones, attend two events to market our app… we decided to raise money when we found the demand / traffic on the app was at the point where we’d need to hire an official team for the office to handle the business coming through. Product had been tested and proven and now we were ready to move from an idea to a business.”
Why did you choose Safaricom and the Spark Venture Fund as the investor right for your business?
“We chose a bunch of investors, and Safaricom was one of them. Our recent raise was a combination of local and international angels, corporate investors, and tech investment funds. We wanted some local knowledge, some corporate expertise, and the network of international tech investors…”
What are some of your early lessons learned? Any advice to other entrepreneurs out there?
“If the problem is clear and you can prove people will pay for your solution.. the investors will come. Prove people will buy once, and come back again. That’s what closes your investment deal in the end.”
The Safaricom USD 1 million Spark Venture Fund seeks to support mobile ICT startups in Kenya, and enabling the development of innovative mobile solutions. The fund offers equity investments and other debt instruments to Kenyan startups for values between USD 75,000 and US 250,000. See the Safaricom Spark Venture Fund page and Sendy Limited Profile on VC4Africa for more details.