Show me the money: A quick guide to Africa’s early stage tech capital

Over the last 6 years, our team at TLcom met dozens of African entrepreneurs. While there are many challenges facing most of these founders and teams – one appeared to be common to all: access to capital.

Most teams we met didn’t even know where to start outside the 2–3 obvious names or local accelerators. Now, while some may claim this is a ‘good filter’ to those who can overcome, the fact of the matter is that Africa is one of the toughest and least forgiving capital raising environments, and the time and effort spent on it has ‘killed’ or at least really held back many great teams and ideas.

While TLcom has no ability to change reality in that sense, and no intent to invest in everyone, we did try to learn what are the key challenges entrepreneurs meet when going out to fundraise. Here is what we came up with:

– Who is investing?

– In what sectors / areas are they investing in when they invest?

– At what stage do they like to invest? How much do they invest on average?

– Do they have any geographic focus?

– What would they like to know when we approach?

– And most importantly – how do we get to them?

Well, as we are not in the business of re-inventing the wheel, we looked for potential solutions. We came across a very relevant one in Israel – created by friends at AlephVC.

So, we are starting a community project. BY the community FOR the community.

We decided to initiate an open source platform (google doc) – to help all of us make sense of the ‘mystified’ investor landscape. We reached out to some investor friends – and were amazed by their willingness to help (thanks everyone! you know who you are!).

So, with no further ado, we are happy to introduce THE SPREADSHEET.

A couple of quick answers – before you ask:

– Why do we need it? There are already platforms such as VC4A, and others, aren’t there?
Well – you are right. But this is a bit easier to access and edit, and gives, YOU, all entrepreneurs and investors, power to edit, add, manage and control the data from anywhere, at anytime.

– Are you sure that open source is the right platform? What about spam? And fake data?

First, the entire world of tech and innovation is massively moving to open access. This is rapidly becoming the ‘new normal’ in attacking the biggest problems and capturing the biggest opportunities.

Second, we believe in trust, and seeing a lot of it in the African tech community, it’s an advantage we want to leverage. We are sure there will be abusers, like in any community, but we hope it will be a small and disappearing minority. That you all be smart about using it, and editing it, and nudging or approaching people based on it. Just as you can email every investor – every investor can delete his data, or signal you out to all the investors as spammer. It works both ways, and we believe it will work very well.

And a few quick thoughts – to help us moving forward:

– We will help to manage this tool a little bit in the early days, but, if you are an active investor and want to be added

– Just add yourself. If you are an entrepreneur and know of investors not on the list – please add them, or update missing details as you come across.

– Before you send anything – please read the etiquette tab. It’s key. Investors get dozens of pitches a week, and are selective. Be relevant. Target the ones you have a chance with, in terms of area of interest, stage and geography. Get a warm intro if you can – it’s worth the effort and can make the difference. Always spend serious time before you pitch to someone. Respect him/her as you wish that he/she respects you.

– There are additional tabs on the file: Incubators, Accelerators, Service Providers (lawyers, accountants etc.) and you can add as you wish. The more data you share — the faster the tech community will grow. And at this stage — growing and sharing is fundamental.

– SPREAD THE WORD. Share the link (here: Blog, twit or Facebook post about it. The more people know about it, the better and more useful data it will have.

– When you SHARE – use the link above.

– When you want to EDIT – use this link: It’s a google doc issue – so please respect that for all of us.

One last note from us at TLcom.

As some of you may know, we recently completed the first close of our Africa tech fund, TIDE Africa. It was a long journey, and we are excited to become more actively involved in the growing community of Africa focused tech investors. We are launching this as a first ‘community project’ out of a few we are planning for the year. More to come. If you have a great idea for such projects that can help the community at large, please speak to us. If we find it relevant and possible, we might try to pull it off together.

We really hope this will ignite a smoother, more transparent and above all more open African entrepreneurs-investors communication channel.

Can’t wait to hear your feedback and thoughts, and more importantly, more great teams being funded.

Ido, Andreata, Maurizio and Omobola