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Serena Williams Raises $111 Million For New Venture Firm

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Fan-favourite tennis star, Serena Williams, has raised $111 million for her new venture capital company, Serena Ventures.

The early-stage venture capital firm made this information available via a blog post on Thursday, 3rd March. Serena Williams, via her VC firm, had invested in notable fintech platforms like Propel, Cointracker and edtech platform, Masterclass, among others.

According to the company, over 60 portfolios of angel investments had happened since launch – thirteen of which are unicorns. Serena Ventures is currently headed by Serena Williams alongside Alison Rapaport, former staff at J.P. Morgan, Wasserman and Melo7Tech.

While announcing the update on the website, Serena Ventures, however, did not disclose if its next set of investments on early-stage companies would be focused on any particular sector. It simply revealed, “Today we’re excited to share that we’ve raised an inaugural fund of $111M to continue pursuing our mission…”

With the ongoing pressure in capital valuation for private companies and startups, many venture capital firms are looking to raise more funds for investment and it makes it more important for Serena Ventures to play into this reason for raising funds in this period.

This pressure on capital valuation is leading to more and more acquisitions and sell-offs for many startups.

However, the largest investors like SoftBank, Tiger Global and Andreessen Horowitz are still betting on valuations to recover later in the year. Although these firms are more accustomed to investing in fintech companies, cryptocurrency companies and virtual space companies, bigger opportunities lie beyond these sectors and a few of them have come to recognise this.

Fintech investment in Africa is growing rapidly with Flutterwave being the highest-valued startup with a $3 billion valuation that came with a new $250 million Series D round of funding.

In 2021, SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led a $400 million funding round for OPay Nigeria – an investment that raised the startup’s value to $2 billion and marked its first bet on an Africa-focused startup. In 2022, OPay is currently valued at over $2 billion. Although Serena Ventures have made a few investments in African companies – notably, Adela, Wave and Esusu – the company still has a strong portfolio across a wide demographic.

Serena Ventures currently has nine years of angel investing under its belt, and investments with 13 unicorns and with six exits.

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Fund Raising

Lagos-Based Tech Startups Raised $750 million in 2022

Lagos now ranks 81 globally as one of the leading hubs for startups

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Tech Start-up operating in Lagos State has so far raised $750 million in 2022, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Innovation and Technology, Tunbosun Alake stated on Thursday at the opening of the 4th Art of Lagos (AOT) Conference. 

While noting that the state has become the number one startup capital in Africa, Alake said Lagos now ranks 81 globally as one of the leading hubs for startups.

He added that Lagos is also number one in Africa in terms of the volume of deals that have been sealed from 2019 to date.

Also speaking at the conference, Lagos State Deputy Governor, Obafemi Hamzat noted that Lagos State has been able to provide an enabling environment where startups and small businesses could thrive. 

Similarly, speaking further, Alake revealed that the increasing number of investors putting their money in Lagos state is a result of the conducive environment for investment and not because of the large population. 

“Investors are coming to Lagos because there have been many things we have been doing to encourage and to make sure the ecosystem is right for these investments. And Lagos is a place investor love to come to, not just because of the size of the market but also because of the potential of the returns on their investments,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Lagos State has disclosed that it has plans to enter into the venture market, thereby launching a venture fund of its own. Investors King learnt.

The special adviser noted that the soon-to-be-launched capital venture fund will “write bigger equity cheques for Nigerian startups than most privately-owned VC”.

“We are working to launch a Lagos venture fund of bigger ticket sizes,” Alake said. “Where normal VCs expect to cash in returns in 5 to 10 years, we are going to be able to do more time because we need more mission-critical products that would serve the citizens.” 

“The fund would be cross-sectoral including fintech, agriculture, health, and most importantly, “research and development startups,” he added. 

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Fund Raising

Property Tech Company, VENCO Secures $670,000 Pre-Seed Funding

The company stated that the fund will be deployed to scale its all-in-one technology platform

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Nigeria property technology company, VENCO has secured $670,000 in an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round.

The company stated that the fund will be deployed to scale its all-in-one technology platform that manages collections, service charge administration, utilities, and visitor access, among other services associated with multi-unit property developments across Africa.

Founded by Chude Osiegbu (CEO), Reagan Mbitiru (CTO), and Uzochukwu Alor (COO), VENCO already has a growing presence in both Nigeria and Kenya with the plan to expand to other cities and countries in Africa. 

The CEO, Chude Osiegbu stated that VENCO was used by 100 estates on about 4000 property units in 2021. He added that the startup is currently in 186 estates with about 12,000 property units and now has larger estates like Banana Island and 1004 in its roster.

Although Osiegbu noted that the company presently relies on subscription fees that it charges for the deployment of its software solution, he nevertheless stated that VENCO has a long-term plan to introduce a number of monetised operations.

He added that the startup already helped finance the purchase of prepaid energy meters for the Primewater View Gardens estate, and the Tejuosho Market, a shopping mall.

In the last 9 months, VENCO says it has recorded over 200 percent growth, currently in 6 cities in Nigeria and Kenya. 

Dating from the beginning of this year, VENCO noted that it has processed more than $10 million in transaction value via its platform. The company added that it is already in talks with e-commerce platforms to enable easier access to merchants within and around the community. 

Investors King learnt that some of the investors that participated in the pre-seed funding round include Zrosk Investment Management, Voltron Capital, Decimal Point Ventures, Fast Forward Fund, Tayo Oviosu (CEO of Paga), Odun Eweniyi (COO of Piggyvest), Oo Nwoye, Desigan Chinniah, Dakar Network Angels and Viktoria Business Angel Network.

Speaking at the event, Samson Esemuede, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer at  Zrosk Investment Management, said, “ We view VENCO as both a SaaS and a financial inclusion play with a potential for strong multiplicative impact across the continent.”

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Fund Raising

Nigerian Based Food Tech Startup, Orda Raises $3.4 Million in Seed Funding

Orda Africa has now raised a combined $4.5 million raised by the African-centric food tech company. 

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Nigerian-based food tech startup, Orda announced it has raised a sum of $3.4 million in seed funding after it raised $1.1 million in pre-seed funding at the beginning of this year. This makes it a total of $4.5 million raised by the African-centric food tech company. 

Investors King understands that Orda is an African restaurant cloud operating system that helps restaurants to move from pen and paper to a fully automated digital platform. 

According to the startup, it aims to help more African restaurants maximize their business operations and expand distribution. 

The tech company added that it plans to improve on some new features which include loan, credit, and payment options which will eventually enable its clients to maximize the potential of their business. 

Investors King learnt that this new round of funding was co-led by Quona Capital and FinTech Collective. Other institutional investors which participated in the seed funding include Far Out Ventures, Lofty Inc Capital, Enza Capital, and Outside VC.

In the last one year, Orda has been able to increase its customer base to more than 600 restaurants across Nigeria and Kenya while its weekly processing orders has increased by more than 500 percent. 

Speaking about the growth and focus of the company, Orda’s CEO and co-founder, Guy Futi said “From day one, Orda has been focused on building solutions for small and medium-sized restaurants”.

“These businesses operate with slim profit margins and the power of Orda’s software and financial solutions can catapult their business. Our goal is to provide end-to-end solutions that help them optimize their operations so they become more prosperous”. 

Founded in 2020 by Guy Futi, Fikayo Akinwale, Mark Edomwande, Kunle Ogungbamila, and Namir El-Khouri, Orda has the vision to help small-sized African restaurants optimize their business and achieve sustainable growth.

Meanwhile, the company has attributed its growth over the last 12 months to the excellent team it has put together, a trend it hopes to continue in the coming months. 

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