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Raising funding in Africa – the venture capitalists you need to know about

By Daniel Mpala for Ventureburn

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a tech startup founder who is looking to raise venture capital (VC) funding.

The good news is as Africa’s VC sector continues to grow the amount of VC funding raised by startups this year is likely to keep growing.

Last year 146 African tech startups raised over $1.1-billion in equity funding, according to a report by French VC Partech Africa (see this story).

Even given the significant challenges that the continent’s VC sector faces — such as a lack of follow-on funding and angel investors — some have predicted that this year African startups could raise as much as $1.5-billion this year (see this story).

In our 12-part series we will introduce you to some top venture capitalists who are active on the continent and asked them what they look for in tech startups, their investment philosophies and what they want you to know about them.

We’re starting the series with:

Dotun Olowoporoku, Novastar Ventures

Dotun Olowoporoku is an associate director at Novastar Ventures, a VC manager with two funds investing in early and growth-stage businesses that address some of the biggest problems that the continent faces.

Prior to joining Novastar, Olowoporoku founded Starta, a startup advisory firm for high-growth businesses in Africa. The firm recently re-branded as Growthlab, an online membership growth programme with a co-working space in Lagos.

Olowoporoku says he started his career as a research fellow on air quality and climate change in Bristol, England.

In 2012, he founded an on-demand food delivery platform which raised $1-million in seed capital and scaled across three cities in the UK. Olowoporoku left the company after he facilitated a strategic partnership with Just-Eat UK in 2015.

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He is also the host of the Building the Future Podcast where he holds one-one-one conversations with entrepreneurs, innovators and thought leaders that are shaping the future of the continent.

Novastar’s vision, he says, is to see sub-Saharan Africa populated with a growing number of entrepreneurs that are building and scaling innovative businesses that are serving the common good.

When approached by startups looking for investment, he and his team Novastar focus on three things — the founding team’s character, capacity and ambition.

“At that very early stage, we’re investing in people first and plan second, because the plan is bound to be wrong. The real question is, does the team have what it takes to know when to persevere and when to pivot,” he explains.

Novastar Ventures, Olowoporoku points out, has proven over the past five years that there is no absence of deal flow for its investment strategy.

“In fact, there’s been a big gap in the capital ladder for venture funding, that is, funding innovative businesses that are prioritising growth over profitability while seeking massive scale,” he says.

By Daniel Mpala for Ventureburn

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