This VC fund wants African startups to pitch online for $10k. Here’s what you need to know

June 5, 2020
4 min read
Ben Peter (Founding partner, Aptive Capital). Source: Supplied

Aptive Capital is a US-based $1M social impact portfolio fund. Launched in 2020, it has invested in four African and US-based startups.

However, it plans to invest $10,000 each in five startups in the coming months. In order to achieve this, Aptive Capital recently called out for applications from African startups in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, and Ethiopia that need funding.

Techpoint Africa caught up with Ben Peter, MBA, PhD, founding partner of the social impact fund to find out how they invest.

What does the term VC investment mean to Aptive Capital?

Venture capital investment for Aptive Capital involves providing support in terms of funding and capacity development for our portfolio companies. Aptive Capital is impact-focused, and, as such, our mission is to invest in businesses that have a direct economic impact on the communities they serve.


Who founded or runs Aptive Capital?

I founded Aptive Capital and I’m based in Frisco, Texas, USA. Brandon Gilpin, MBA, is the managing partner based in Waco, Texas, USA. He is experienced in startup development, investors' relations, and business scaling. Over the years, Gilpin has also invested significantly in African companies with me.

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Ben Peter (Founding Partner, Aptive Capital)

Finally, we have Adeshina Adewumi who is co-founder and CEO, One Kiosk Africa. He acts as our representative in Africa with One Kiosk Africa being one of our portfolio companies.

How did Aptive Capital come about?

Aptive Capital started in 2020 arising from the funding gap resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every VC keeps its eye on certain markets, what market is Aptive Capital interested in and why?

At Aptive Capital, we are particularly interested in emerging markets as most solutions are driven out of a real quest for impact and not just profit. We are sector indifferent as we invest equally in traditional manufacturing and service businesses as well as technology-driven ones. Far back in 2010 when I initially invested in Africa, we observed the great opportunity that the emerging markets represented there.

How do you determine that a startup is investible?

We invest in people, not just the business model. Business viability and profitability are essential factors, we are also driven by the passion and experience of the founders who have cultivated the business opportunity. We believe that once the business’ foundation, especially the team and drive, is established, leadership will develop strategies to meet market challenges by either pivoting or leveraging their networks to gain results. All we do is support them in their quest by providing capital to scale operations.

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By Aptive Capital’s standards, what shouldn't a startup be doing?

We believe that founders or entrepreneurs must not wait for investors to come looking for them, they must actively search for investors and meet them in the middle.

Brandon Gilpin (Managing Partner, Aptive Capital)

We have a keen eye for seeing what the entrepreneur has been doing before reaching out to us.

At what stage of growth do you usually invest in startups?

So far, we have invested in seed rounds but are capable of investing up to Series A rounds with ticket sizes from as little as $5k to as high as $1M.

How do you deal with bad investments?

We simply walk away. Between 2010 and 2012, before Uber and other ride-hailing service companies emerged in Nigeria, I invested over $50k on a Nigerian founder who was building a similar service. It was a bad investment decision which we had to walk away from.

What industries are of most interest to you?

We have invested in eCommerce, agriculture, and food sector companies. However, we are very interested in health, logistics, consumer goods, and technology-driven service companies.

Which startups are currently in your portfolio?

We currently maintain positions in Slab Deck, One Kiosk Africa, StatesMan.NG, and Regalo Kitchen and are actively looking to add another five companies at the end of this search round.

We are currently willing to invest $10,000 in five startups with the capacity to provide more funding should the company require a higher amount based on previous revenue and profitability records.

What is your average ticket size?

Our average, at the moment, is $10,000 for early-stage startups with potential injections as warranted.

How can startup founders reach you?

Startup founders can participate in our ongoing challenge call or simply send an email containing their deck and financial model to [email protected], and we would be in touch for further engagement should they be a right fit for the portfolio.

Endlessly amused by technology. @ulonnaya
Endlessly amused by technology. @ulonnaya
Endlessly amused by technology. @ulonnaya

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