African unicorn 🦄

Last week, Nigerian fintech company, Flutterwave, announced a mega Series C round of $170 million. This wasn’t just a monumental fund raise for an African startup, but more importantly it made Flutterwave just the fourth African startup to achieve unicorn status of being valued at over $1 billion.

Of the three unicorn predecessors, two of them, namely Interswitch and Fawry are also payments companies, while the third, Jumia, is an e-commerce juggernaut. This speaks to the clout of fintech across the African continent.

But Flutterwave’s unicorn status is a little different from the other three. Both Interswitch and Fawry took 17 and 13 years respectively to reach their billion dollar valuations hardly making them startups at this point.

Flutterwave has done it in less than 5 years. Although Jumia took only 4 years to reach unicorn status via an IPO, its African heritage looks a little tenuous with it being headquartered in Germany. Needless to say, Flutterwave is the first startup founded by Africans in Africa to reach a $1 billion valuation.

Like so many other African startup success stories, Flutterwave passed through the doors of YCombinator’s accelerator program back in 2016. Then in 2017 they were one of a handful of African startups to get accepted into Google’s Launchpad Accelerator, now called Google for Startups where they received top-tier mentoring from the best in the business.

That stamp of approval from such established brands in the tech world opens up a raft of meaningful investment opportunities outside of your typical angel rounds.

Capital from prestigious VC’s, hedge funds and investment firms. Capital that can really move the needle when it comes to scale, expansion and revenue growth.

An so the capital came - $225 million to be exact. First the Series A of $20 million in 2018, followed shortly after by a Series B of $35 million in 2020. Bringing us to Flutterwave’s Series C round last week of $170 million which was led by New York-based private investment firm Avenir Growth Capital and hedge fund and investment firm Tiger Global.

But Flutterwave aren’t letting their newfound unicorn status waylay them from the metrics that really matter. Their CEO, Olugbenga Agboola believes that company valuations sit at the confluence of art and science making it more of a vanity metric. “Our key metrics have always been revenue, customer growth and retention.”

In the News 🚀

🇲🇺 Mauritian-based, Savannah Fund has pledged to invest another $25 million into early stage African startups this year.

🇪🇪 ‌Estonian ride-hailing company, Bolt is planning to launch a food delivery service in Nigeria imminently.

🇳🇬 Flutterwave has partnered with Paypal to allow PayPal customers globally to pay African merchants through its platform. Here’s how it works.

🇿🇦 South African delivery app, Quench, has secured secured an undisclosed round of funding from Imvelo Ventures.