SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017 #SMESABestOf2017

Updated on 18 December 2017

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“We have seen tremendous growth in all the corridors. Our business has tripled in size since March this year and we now have 100 000 customers,” said Raphael Grojnowski, co-founder of mobile payment platform Mama Money, following an announcement earlier this year that the startup would be expanding its footprint across the African continent.

Mama Money is just one of several South African tech startups that have penetrated foreign markets in 2017.

These startups on the move range from IOT and legal tech to cybersecurity and mobile payments, with the rest of Africa, the US and the UK being the most popular markets for SA tech startups to move into.

Here are 10 of 2017’s biggest tech startup expansions. 

SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
Yoco founders Bradley Wattrus, Katlego Maphai, Carl Wazen and Lungisa Matshoba.

1. Yoco
Cape Town-based startup Yoco’s integrated card payment and point-of-sale system enables small businesses and entrepreneurs to securely accept card payments wherever they are. The fintech business was founded in 2013 by Katlego Maphai, Bradley Wattrus, Carl Wazen and Lungisa Matshoba.

Earlier this year, Wazen revealed that they were expanding further into Africa, specifically East and West Africa. The company already has a presence in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The expansion follows successfully securing funding from US-based Quona Capital and Velocity Capital of the Netherlands.



SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
Mama Money co-founders Raphael Grojnowski and Mathieu Coquillon.

2. Mama Money
Raphael Grojnowski and Mathieu Coquillon are the brains behind Mama Money. The Cape Town-based mobile payments startup launched in 2015.

Mama Money gives the continent’s largely unbanked and migrant population the ability to transfer money via mobile.

Earlier this year the founders announced that they were expanding into Mozambique, Malawi and Kenya, and had their sights on eventually expanding beyond Africa. They also revealed plans to grow the number of agents they employ to 1000 by the end of 2017, from 783.



SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
Libryo Chief Legal Officer Garth Watson (far right).

3. Libryo
After a major funding round this year, Libryo announced their plans for expansion. Libryo offers its users (who are often not legally trained), intuitive search, real-time updates and site and context specific regulatory information, anywhere, at any time.

The legal tech platform, based in Cape Town and London, was founded in 2016 by three South African entrepreneurs, Peter Flynn, Garth Watson and Malcolm Gray.

Libryo has expanded from a global reach of five to 50 countries (45 across Sub-Saharan Africa). The $1 million seed round will enable further expansion across four continents; Africa, Europe, North America and Australia – in the next 18 to 24 months.



SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
Entersekt co-founder and CEO of Entersekt.

4. Entersekt
Stellenbosch-based Entersekt offers authentication solutions used by global enterprises which require user-friendly and solid authentication and security products for interactions with their customers.

Their most recent funding round was led by Silicon Valley investors Endeavor, who support entrepreneurs who are in the scale-up phase of their company’s growth.

The investment allowed for expansion mostly into Africa. Co-founder Schalk Nolte in an interview with SME South Africa said the continent is a priority market for them. Other locations they will be expanding to include Europe, the US, and 45 other countries.



SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
The team at Luno.

5. Luno
Luno, a bitcoin platform, this year announced their launch across Europe due to the increasing demand for cryptocurrency.

The fintech startup, co-founded by Marcus Swanepoel, Timothy Stranex, Pieter Heyns and Carel van Wyk, is a Cape Town and London-based bitcoin platform that allows people to buy, sell and learn about digital currencies.

The business has this year concluded two funding rounds, both of which the startup said would be used for global expansion, product refinement and development. Their most recent funding round was led by Balderton Capital, one of Europe’s top venture capital firms.



SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
Head of Sales at FNB Business Marcel Klaassen, BrandsEye founders JP Kloppers and Craig Raw, FNB Innovation Awards judge Romeo Khumalo and FNB provincial head of Gauteng North Danny Zandamela.

6. BrandsEye
BrandsEye is a data-mining company founded by JP Kloppers and Craig Raw in 2012. Based in Cape Town, the company uses a social analytics approach integrated with BrandsEye Crowd, a crowdsourcing platform, which assigns microtasks to trained contributors around the world to correctly allocate sentiment to social conversations.

The company had a particularly exciting 2016 and 2017. Earlier this year, Kloppers revealed to SME South Africa that they were opening branches in Dubai and London, as they had market traction in both those markets. The company was put on the map by correctly predicting the outcome of some of the biggest world’s events in the last two years, including the Brexit vote and analysis of the 2016 U.S presidential election.





SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
Co-founder, Bodo Sieber Image:

7. Tagmarshal
Golf startup Tagmarshal was co-founded Bodo Sieber, Craig Kleu, and John Willmore. They developed a pace-of-play and revenue-optimizing system that alerts golf courses of slow play and allows golf course managers to actively pursue a faster pace of play.

The startup earlier this year announced their expansion into the US market. The startup has also had a good 2016 and 2017 as far as funding goes, having raised an angel round from European investors early last year, and earlier this year a second funding round led by Berlin-based lead investor Christian Vollmann, Disrupt Africa reports.




SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
Quicket founders Michael Kennedy, James Tagg, and James Hedley.

8. Quicket
The South African online ticketing startup which was launched in 2011 by James Tagg, James Hedley and Michael Kennedy, sells tickets both online and offline.

The Cape Town-based startup announced plans to further expand into the rest of Africa next year as part of their goal to address the fragmented and mostly unaddressed ticketing landscape in more developed African countries.

They have already established a footprint in Uganda as one of the first step towards that goal.




SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
Co-founder, Nico Steyn Image:

9. IoT.nxt
Pretoria-based IoT startup IoT.nxt, which launched in 2016, has big plans going into 2018.

The startup, which was founded by Nico Steyn Bertus Jacobs and Terje Moen, recently opened offices in The Hague region of the Netherlands as their first move expanding into Europe, according to a Disrupt Africa article.

The expansion follows the startup successfully securing R100 million ($7.7 million) in funding earlier this year, according to a Fin24 article. They will also be expanding to London, according to the same article.




SA Tech Startups That Took The World By Storm In 2017
Hendrik Kotze, product development director, CE Willie Pienaar, and Maruis Conradie, strategy director Image:

10. NuvaLaw
Cape Town-based legal tech startup NuvaLaw also earlier this year opened offices in The Hague, Netherlands. The company, co-founded by Willie Pienaar, Maruis Conradie and Hendrik Kotze, is working to transforming the way legal information is managed and how disputes are settled.

The company is also looking to expand locally, and has an eye on the UK and Australia, according to CoCreateSA.

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