Founded by Adrian Raisbeck, South Africa’s mbora, is an IoT firm creating connected sales and distribution outlets with access to advanced performance management data to the over 500,000 booths in Africa and more in Asia. Raisbeck says mbora’s important markets largely reside outside of South Africa.
“We’ve rolled out one proof of value pilot project and have recently been awarded two more. So it’s early days for us, our technology readiness levels are finally at a point where we can roll out pilots.” Raibeck told TechMoran. “We intend to secure our seed capital and another 3 pilot projects. We’re currently chatting to a small handful of interested seed investors, all of whom are impressive. We’ve also started looking to Asia, having recently been selected to join Matchi.biz’s Global Fintech Hackcelerator.”
Speaking to TechMoran, Raisbeck said Mbora’s value proposition resides in the data its IoT systems collect and the way it is disseminated to suit the needs of mbora’s customers. Though it has been incredibly challenging, expensive, and long-winded to design and build an IoT system from scratch that can withstand the environmental conditions, mbora has not looked back.
mbora’s system includes add-ons that enable customers to generate additional revenue streams that help pay for the service. So why wouldn’t MNOs, banks, micro-insurers, and mobile money operators want access to affordable actionable data to support efforts to optimise their existing sales and distribution networks and improve revenue? Asks Raisbeck adding that the market signals the firm has received thus far have been very positive indeed.
“We’ve reached an exciting juncture as a first-mover solving challenging data-gaps in this market. Our service is applicable to Asian businesses too,” he added.
The inspiration to start mbora came to Raisbeck just over a year ago, when an old friend of his took over as the COO of a mobile money service provider in South Africa and invited him to look around his new setup. One of their fiberglass mobile money booths was standing in the corner of their offices. Having had the business model explained to him reminded Raisbeck how important the low-cost sales & distribution infrastructure network was to local communities and to the businesses operating them. It also occurred to him that these booth-based networks operate very remotely and at ‘arms-length’ from their head offices in various African capitals. I started asking questions about the types of information and data they see from these booths. This exposed huge data gaps for service providers that he felt mbora could address with its in-house technical capabilities, so he gave it a shot and mbora was born.
mbora’s business model is either a rental model based on a monthly fee per booth, or, some customers may prefer to pay the hardware capex upfront to attract lower monthly service fees. mbora also offer additional add-ons that enable its customers to generate new revenue streams to offset the costs of its service.
“We value the experience and exposure tremendously and we’re primarily focused on becoming a recognised IoT player by the Seedstars community. It’ll be a bonus if we win,” said Raisbeck. “I’d love to see Seedstars turning things upside down and initiating a competition specifically for young social entrepreneurs in marginalised communities in Africa, particularly for young women. This is based on my belief that an alternative approach to sustainably developing marginalised African communities needs to be predicated on commercially viable partnerships between these communities and innovative ethical businesses.”
Raisbeck says the public sector and the development sector have done little over the last four decades to see increased GDP and increased overseas development aid trickle down to the last mile. So based on his experience thus far he’s certain Seedstars World can play a crucial role in the market.
Interested investors out there are welcome to contact him at [email protected].