Lagos and Johannesburg, 8th June, 2020: Platform Capital (Platform), a leading growth markets investor, is pleased to announce its investment in Merge Tech (Merge), a leading South African digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, through its technology vehicle, Unicorn Group. Merge is a transactional marketplace platform that allows start-ups and investors to connect, communicate and collaborate seamlessly. It matches entrepreneurs & start-ups with a network of investors that are best suited to their funding needs; and provides high-quality deal flow to investors through an app and web-based platform.
Merge creates greater efficiency and access for both entrepreneurs and investors through its innovative technology and design first thinking to enable more meaningful connections and fast decision making on the go. The platform creates more opportunity for both the investor and the entrepreneur to interact and engage on a deeper level that results in a higher conversion rate from connection to deal closure based on its mutual interest system to create a match or “merge”. This is changing the current entrepreneur-investor landscape by creating equal opportunity for all parties to access the market and funding.
The company currently operates in South Africa and has 1,000+ entrepreneurs, 200+ investors and 300+ ventures funded (“merges”) since its app launch in September 2019. Merge’s goal is to be the leading investment marketplace bringing together a curated selection of the continent’s most promising firms directly into contact with a global investor ecosystem, matching pre-qualified, high-growth companies to international corporate and individual investors. The MSME market in Africa is large and underserved with over formal 44 million MSMEs and a $331 billion financing gap, Merge is positioned to solve a deeply entrenched problem by expanding its operations to Nigeria & West Africa in 2020, then across sub-Saharan Africa and into other markets in 2021.
Leveraging Unicorn’s global network, Merge has partnered with Silicon Valley based firms Aspenify, a leading technology company that is evolving how people work together by automating the process of connecting people, innovating new ideas and performing as a collective virtual team to deliver results; and WhiteSpace X, the first global network of leading accelerators that provides an unrivalled network, infrastructure and access to global markets & investors. Through these partnerships, Merge will support entrepreneurs on their platform by automating the process of innovating new ideas & initiatives and providing expansion into new international markets.
Merge is currently backed by other early stage investors such as Jason Levin, early-stage angel investor and the author of Unicorns, Leapfrogs and Gazelles: Fast-tracking the South African Ecosystem as well as Chris Peters, Founder of Fibre Compare, South Africa’s first fibre internet comparison site. As part of Platform’s investment, Dr. Akintoye Akindele, Chairman of Platform Capital will join the board as Chairman; and Steve Hanney, Founder & CEO of Aspenify will join the advisory board as a technical advisor.
Zander Mathee, Co-Founder, Merge said, “This investment from Platform Capital is the partnership that we have been waiting for. The synergies are unparalleled and the access to international markets will definitely put us in a stronger position going forward. Platform has already taken us to Silicon Valley where they exposed us to its tech ecosystem and deep network; we are now partnering with leading technology companies to accelerate our growth. Dr. Akindele joining our board as Chairman is one of the most valuable additions we can make as a start-up; learning from his business experience, and accessing his insights & general views on life are a privilege that we will not take for granted. Working together, we will change the African narrative and create a more connected world in which access to funding and mentorship opportunities are available to all. Together, we will inspire others to ‘Dream Big’.”
Dr. Ponmile Osibo, Partner, Platform Capital said, “Globally, sub-Saharan Africa has the greatest disparity in finance supply for MSMEs, with a gap 4.5x the current supply of $70 billion. Merge provides an excellent opportunity to close this gap by providing a level playing field for entrepreneurs in Africa and around the globe to have access to finance. Democratising access to finance via technology is the next frontier for the investment space and Merge is leading the charge. We are delighted to partner with Zander and Brandon, two young, passionate, and driven entrepreneurs with a knack for problem-solving. We are certain that Merge will become the ‘Tinder’ of investments – matching innovative founders to willing investors.”
Steve Hanney, CEO and Founder, Aspenify said “Aspenify is excited to be teaming with Merge to co-develop the world’s first global hub for Entrepreneurs, Investors and Accelerators to connect, collaborate, innovate and grow together. As joint-partners with Unicorn and Platform Capital we have a bright future together.”
Merge is an app and web-based platform that acts as a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors. Entrepreneurs and Investors can connect, communicate, and collaborate with one another based on their needs.
About Unicorn Group
Unicorn Group is a pan-African, first-mover investment company targeting innovative ideas, start-ups and early stage companies in the technology and technology-enabled sectors across Africa; that have the potential to emerge as unicorns. Unicorn provides education, training, mentorship, infrastructure, and long-term capital to entrepreneurs, start-ups and early stage in the technology and technology-enabled sector through its ecosystem strategy.
About Platform Capital
Platform Capital is a growth markets focused, sector agnostic, principal investment and advisory firm. We deploy patient, value accretive capital alongside international and local value investors to create champion businesses with the potential for regional or global scale. Platform also provides end-to-end bespoke Corporate Finance & Capital Markets advisory services. What makes us different is our obsession with changing the African narrative.
Aspenify is a leading technology company that is evolving how people work together by automating the process of connecting people, innovating new ideas and performing as a collective virtual team. At the core of the new way to work are the Interactive Playbooks ( iPlaybooks™). iPlaybooks™ automate the process of converting your ideas and initiatives into results. In one place, they bring together your content, workflow and teams. They’re where you create once and reuse many times to make repeatable, scalable practices easier and more consistent.