Startup accelerator, 88mph welcomes 8 new startups; Nigeria’s Gamsole, Kenya’s M-Pepea, others make the cut

This week, 88mph welcomed 8 new startups to the two run of its accelerator program, bringing the total portfolio to 15 of investments, representing around $500k of capital investment. Nikolai Barnwell, program manager, says, “88mph is making a bet on the mobile web industry in Africa and with over 400 applications to our program it’s safe to say that we are not alone in thinking that there’s opportunity here.” About 85% of applications originated in Kenya, with about 10% from the rest of the African continent, and 5% from the rest of the world. “We have brought in some super interesting startups,” says Kresten Buch, founder of 88mph, “And now we would like to entice the local community of investors to support our demo day in mid-December.”


The 8 startups have received up to a $24k investment in exchange of  6 – 18% equity, and started their 3-month program on Monday. In brief, they are:
Mdundo: A music distribution platform for mobile phones, working closely with some of the most popular artists in Kenya.

M-Pepea: A mobile money quick loan advance service.

Closet49: A fashion portal that allows local Kenyan women to buy, sell, and swap designer clothes.

Manyatta Rent: A service that allows landlords to receive tenant payments via mobile money.

Gamsole: A Nigerian startup building mobile games specifically for the  African mobile market.

…And an airtime credit company, a sports competition software and a mobile dating site that are currently in beta testing mode.


More than 15 tech entrepreneurs and other business executives joined  the 88mph team in attending a kick-off dinner on Wednesday the 19th.  A link to the photographs from this dinner is provided at the bottom of this press release. These mentors, including Johanna Kollar, from Startup Support Africa at Google, Larry Madowo, Anchor at CNBC Africa, and Ranjith Cherickel, Head of Services Sales, Nokia Siemens Africa, will be working closely with the start-ups in the next three months to provide expert insight and guidance in ramping up their start-up efforts. Gustaf Hertsius, Estonian entrepreneur, says of his experience here, “It’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to apply one’s knowledge and experience in a completely different environment. It’s truly rewarding to see how much the startups benefited from what I bring to the table, but even more so to know how much I’ve learned from them as well.”


An important new element of the program was the introduction of 7 entrepreneurs-in-residence. Hailing from multinational and multi-industry backgrounds, Jacob Lennheden, from Denmark, noted, “It’s fantastic to be  working in such a vibrant and energetic environment, and I’m very optimistic about the future progress of these innovative startups.” The seven are:

Alice Wang (US): Business Developer – Entrepreneurship, Communication and Design
Jacob Lennheden (Denmark): Business Developer – Entrepreneurship, Team Management and Communication
JB Woodruff (US): Business Developer – Strategy, Graphic Design and Web Development
Jura Sidorenko (Russia): Senior Coder – Software Development
Martin Nielsen (Denmark): Business Developer – Sales, Marketing and Project Management.
Raphael Mutiso (Kenya): UX/UI Designer – Illustration, Graphic Design and Web Development.
Steve Gitau (Kenya): Software Developer – Graphic Design and Software Development.


88mph was set up in August 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya to provide seed funding for early-stage mobile/web internet startups targeting the African market. Based on a funding model pioneered by San Francisco based Y-Combinator, the company focuses purely on ideas with a potential to
scale across Africa. The 88mph accelerator program is first of this kind and still unique on the continent. In the next three months, the startups will be working with the entrepreneurs-in-residence and mentors to test their assumptions, refine their business model, raise more capital and bring their ideas to the next level. Additionally, start-ups have access to 88mph tech hubs in Nairobi, and Cape Town as well as to their partner tech hubs across Africa.


The team behind 88mph has previously hosted two IPO48 competitions in Kenya. The 48-hour investment boot camp event was designed as a weekend-long pitch competition, where 15-20 teams spend the weekend working with investors and mentors to show their skills. The first one in 2010 resulted in an investment in MFarm, a startup using mobile phones to connect farmers and markets, and the second one in August 2011, resulted in the creation of 88mph and 3 investments in local companies. Since its creation, 88mph has invested in a total of 15 startups – all targeting the African mobile/web markets. One of the 88mph portfolio companies, Futaa, has raised follow-on funding.

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