BY TOM JACKSON
Nigerian-American Maya Horgan-Famodu always knew she wanted to run an Africa-focused VC firm. Yet the route she took in the end was a roundabout one.
Horgan-Famodu is founder of VC firm Ingressive Capital, which invests in pre-seed and seed-stage tech-enabled businesses in the B2B space in Africa. The company averages US$200,000 to US$400,000 ticket sizes and targets 10 per cent ownership into companies it funds.
Its portfolio includes Paystack, Tizeti, Jetstream, 54gene, OZÉ, Bamboo and many more high-growth startups, and last month Ingressive announced it had doubled the size of its investment fund to US$10 million. But it was a difficult road to get this far.
“At first I wanted to launch a US$30 million venture capital fund, and a US$50 million follow-on fund, but I started this when I was 23 and people didn’t really take me seriously. So my way of getting in the investment space was by launching the advisory company and convincing investors from around the world to get excited about Africa,” Horgan-Famodu told Disrupt Africa.
That advisory company was Ingressive LLC, launched in 2014. Horgan-Famodu, who grew up in Minnesota and had brief stints at JPMorgan Chase and in the private equity business before launching the company, said its bold premise took time to take hold.
“This was before tech in Africa was sexy, so this took me a lot of convincing and a lot of pestering. But after years of doing so we brought some of the top tech and VC people to Africa, and assisted them in making their first investments in the region,” she said.
Ingressive LLC has now worked with over 50 companies and funds, and its clients have done over 40 investments in Nigeria alone. In 2017, it partnered with many of these clients to launch the fund it recently doubled in size. Eighty per cent of its LPs are made up of individuals running later-stage investment vehicles, a sovereign wealth fund, and various funds of funds, while the other 20 per cent are industry people from across Africa.
As the names Paystack and Tizeti suggest, it seems to have backed some winners thus far.
“We’ve had a number of companies that are doing particularly well. We’re really impressed by and humbled by the success of the founders we have been working with,” said Horgan-Famodu.
Ingressive, which also recently launched a non-profit arm to empower African youth with micro-scholarships, is especially interested in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Egypt, but its founder said as it continues to develop it will be looking outside of those regions. It doesn’t only bring cash to the table, however. Horgan-Famodu said it has a 10,000-member developer network that it supports.
“So we can push talent and launch products through our platform. We also don’t just put in initial ticket, we do follow-on investments and then pass the deal on to our own limited partners and investors, who run some of the largest funds in the world. So we assist the company to get access to later stage growth capital and business development,” she said.
Active help is at hand if you are an Ingressive portfolio company.
“The whole team is young and hungry, and comes from an entrepreneurial background. Everyone is founder-friendly, we are in it to be partners and friends of the founders we work with. Talk to any of our portfolio companies – when we commit to working with a founder we are in it 150 per cent. Anything they need, any contacts they need access to, any sort of support, we are there to assist them through the life of their business,” said Horgan-Famodu.
Having taken two years to raise this fund, and with plans afoot to launch an additional, US$50 million fund by the end of the year, she says she is committed to the cause and sees a great opportunity on the continent.
“I’m pretty excited by Africa and pretty bullish on the opportunity,” she said, citing the high quality of founders and the fact capital is flooding in from both private and governmental sources – such as Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom (UK).
“So it is not just global investors allocating a portion of their fund to African investments, it is also the actual governments who see strategic opportunity in aligning with Africa. I’m honoured to be a part of this burgeoning ecosystem.”