A few years ago, at the start of the fintech services boom in Africa, Oliver Blantern got an opportunity to work in the continent offering advisory services to high-growth startups. For slightly over three years his company, Riverhouse Technology, helped the emerging tech firms in talent sourcing and acquisition.
The trained lawyer did all this while running the Africa Payments Club, a platform that brought together a pool of founders, experts and investors in the tech space to connect and address common business challenges as well as to scout for opportunities in Africa.
The platform, born out of his experiences at Riverhouse, provided a light-bulb moment to Blantern, who in March this year launched Impact Rooms to provide solutions to some of the obstacles that founders, investors and executives regularly face.
Impact Rooms offers well-rounded solutions for startup problems, from ensuring that they are investor-ready and are matched with the right investors, to raising capital. To be investor-ready means that the startups have strong financial models, are sourcing the right kind of human capital, and comply with regulations.
Blantern said the Impact Rooms is also using data to help investors make decisions on which countries, industries or startups to invest in – giving an equal opportunity to startups across all markets in Africa.
“We want to encourage a high percentage of capital into regions outside the four main markets (South Africa, Kenya, Egypt and Nigeria) as much as we can. We want to encourage capital into African women-led businesses, and to support a high number of existing local and global investors to invest more capital in this market,” Impact Room CEO and founder Blantern told TechCrunch.
On Impact Rooms, startups also get access to a diverse range of services, including legal and marketing support, from the platform’s other partners. Impact Rooms is backed by US-based investment group Global Blockchain Ventures (GBV).
“Our job is to support startups and help them all the way to maturity. We conduct company evaluations through investor-readiness support and offer introductions to relevant service partners, and then support with capital raising.”
The Impact Rooms team is currently spread across the world with some of its experts in Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Australia, US, UK and Switzerland.
Blantern said that the startup has also built a database to provide insights on how investors are making investment decisions.
“It is the most comprehensive and intelligent investor database for Africa, and it allows us to understand why some companies raise capital and others don’t, as well as to improve their chances in the future,” he said.
Impact Rooms uses its proprietary algorithm, Cortex, to conduct company evaluations and in valuation benchmarking to understand trends.
The startup is planning to establish Smart Fund, an investor-matching program that uses algorithms to pick the best opportunities for funders. The fund will bring together investors with shared interests from across the world to expand their investment prospects in Africa.
“We work and partner with investors, incubators, companies, and all kinds of ecosystem players, including financial service providers –we are not a competitor. We are here to work with everyone in this ecosystem,” he said.
Impact Rooms is currently working with 14 startups from six countries across Africa, spanning different specialties from e-commerce to blockchain-based communications. The supported startups include Ghana’s Wala Digital Health, a SaaS Software connecting hospitals and donors for critical blood transfusions.
The startup has so far evaluated 85 companies and by the end of next year, it hopes to work with 5,000 companies across the continent and to directly, or indirectly create an additional 10,000 jobs. This in addition to helping 1,000 startups raise funds.