Fast Forward Venture Studio to build African startups from idea to scale • TechCrunch


Opeyemi Awoyemi, one of Nigeria’s popular series founders, is back with another outfit. This time it’s not a technology company – Awoyemi co-founded online jobs site Jobberman (acquired by ROAM Africa in 2016) and Whogohost, a bootstrapped hosting platform – but instead a venture studio: fast forward to Venture Studio.

It is interesting that Awoyemi chose this path, especially when many African founders start syndicates or raise capital funds post-post or during their entrepreneurial journeys. But if anything, he and his co-founder, Omolara Aweimi, bring much-needed operational expertise to scaling a venture studio, a rare feat in these parts. After leaving Jobberman, Awoimi, the managing partner of the deal, was actually a senior technical product manager. On the other hand, Omolara, his colleague, worked as the country manager of Jumia’s fintech arm in Nigeria and was a senior program manager at Facebook.

Including angel investors, it is inevitable to collect ideas and mention opportunities based on trends and trends in the field of technology (for example, Aweimi founded a digital bank for refugees last year, connecting customers with businesses) . However, with little or no capacity to pursue these ideas independently, opening a venture studio and bringing in skilled hands to run these projects was the next best thing.

Here’s how Fast Forward works, as Awaymi explained in an interview with TechCrunch. It starts with an “impact-oriented” idea that can build a strong business in the near future. Venture Studio Company’s selection of ideas is huge. As a founding partner, the firm is looking for interests that it believes can impact at least 10 million people and generate at least $10 million in annual recurring revenue over 3-5 years.

When the idea is established, the venture studio will find an experienced operator, achieve product market qualification, scale the product and run the company. Fast forward to working as the founder of the company.

Once the parties are on the same page, FastForward will provide the operator or founder with $100,000 – and support such as co-founder recruitment, engineering support, initial product strategy, implementation through development, administrative tasks such as accounting and legal – at 20% of the company’s turnover.

“We back entrepreneurs from day one, so on our own, we’re the company’s first money. Lara and I are entrepreneurs who have scaled up businesses in Africa, so we see ourselves not only as investors, but as builders,” said Aweimi, who started a digital bank for refugees last year, then transitioned from serving clients to businesses. “We understand the market and we believe that the best way to unlock some of these opportunities, which most people don’t even think about, is to put entrepreneurs at the center. The ideas may come from us, but they are a dime a dozen; the real work is execution.”

Fast Forward is interested in the following sectors: B2B and B2B2C services, infrastructure fintech, e-commerce, future of work, edtech, healthcare, logistics, deep tech, blockchain and globally scalable SaaS from Africa to name a few. Each year, FastForward plans to work with 10 ideas in these sectors and win 3-5 companies that will receive continued funding from other investors and be accepted by accelerators such as Y Combinator and Techstars.

Here are some of the startups in Venture Studio’s portfolio. Bumpa is a social commerce platform for over 100,000 small businesses (Lara is the founding CEO). It recently merged with the meta and closed its seed round. AltSchool is a platform powered by Techstars to learn coding and other technology-related skills. TalentQL, a subsidiary of AltSchool, is a platform that connects tech talent with employers (Awoyemi is a co-founder). Dojah, a YC-powered identity verification and KYC platform for African businesses, is also closing a round. and Buzzline, an exclusive mobile operating system for entrepreneurs.

Fast Forward runs a pool of $20,000 chosen by some companies from the studio — Bumppa is the only recipient, according to the site — at the pre-seed and seed stages. The fund, which includes deals done before its partners, has invested in startups such as Cassava, Convoy, Odigo and Reliance Health. “Early stage funding is to facilitate deals and pursue companies in the venture studio,” Awoimi said.

In addition to the progress achieved by Fastforward Venture Studio, another encouraging result of the studio is that it has entered exits and returned them in beta despite the general exit technology space. One of the points Awaimi made is that venture studios are typically positioned to help founders succeed rather than incubators, accelerators and funds. For Fast Forward, startups also value the partners’ background and relationships with previous global employers, as well as venture partners, which include investor relations, strategic relationships and portfolio company support, he said. TechCrunch’s former African journalist Jake Bright is one of his venture partners.

“First of all, we are more connected than funds and incubators or accelerators. We briefed the entrepreneurs and operators as we worked closely with them on our ideas,” said the managing partner. “The returns are also very high in liquidity. It’s better for the fans and better for us. In the checks we’ve written so far, in total, we have 64x multiples on investment capital that many smaller funds or seed funds can’t boast.

However, it should be noted that, while several venture studios have arguable advantages over other forms of investment, the model is not particularly effective and is of little interest to founders and operators. However, FastForward hopes to be a trailblazer that other courses can follow. And if the recent moves TechCrunch has covered from the industry are indicative of what’s to come, the model could be making a comeback. In the past two months, for example, Kenya-based Adani Labs said it is looking to build 300 startups over the next five years, and Purple Elephant Ventures, another Kenyan-based studio, raised $1 million in pre-seed funding. To build about four startups every year at the intersection of tourism, climate and technology.



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