Port-Harcourt Startup Innovation Seefinish

Port Harcourt Startup Innovation Ecosystem Tour Hangout

Port Harcourt Startup & Innovation Tour / Hangout was a 2 day event to understand, as well as bolster the Port Harcourt innovation ecosystem. The organizers engaged with innovation hubs, work spaces, investors, startups, programmers, media brands, digital marketing brands, technologist, entrepreneurs, business owners, as well as mentees and mentors. The main organizers were StartupSouth and Afrilabs.

Port Harcourt Startup Event Activities

The Port-Harcourt Startup event hosted a series of activities which were both educating and engaging. The main activities were:

  • Port-Harcourt Innovation Ecosystem Tour
  • Hub Leaders Seminar (Starting and Running a Sustainable Innovation Hub) : Watch on Youtube
  • Port-Harcourt Startup and Innovation Hangout

Events Partners

The main events partners amongst the many other associate business and startup brands that attended the event includes;

Innovation Hubs Visited in Port-Harcourt

Watch YouTube Videos of Innovation Hub Tour

Main Speakers / Personalities :

  • Anna Ekeledo (Exec. Dir. AfriLabs)
  • Ikechukwu Uche (SSEAN Investor)
  • Uki Asemota-Osifo (Regional Lead Digiclan)
  • Uche Aniche ( Convener #StartupSouth )

Conclusion

The Port Harcourt Startup Innovation Ecosystem Hub Tour and Hangout thought stakeholders that hubs have to be domain specific in other to create value for the kind of target clients or investors expected.

(Watch on YouTube – Hub 101: Starting And Running A Innovation Hub).

Noteworthy Keys to Building a Startup or Innovation Hub;

  • Develop on “Ideas” that solves a niche problem and can scale fast.
  • Startups are innovative solution providers that develop products or services to solve a problem and scale fast to attract investors looking for quick win businesses.
  • Incubation Hubs are where to go to for mentorship and guidance on how to build on your startup business ideas.
  • Innovation Hubs creates workspace and conducive ecosystem to interaction with like minds
  • Angel Investors
  • Mentor-Angel Investors
  • Venture Capitalist
  • Communities for Collaboration
  • Hub Leaders or Managers

There is an investment opportunity for everyone, take your pick and contribute to society as an advocate, a social entrepreneur or a capital gains investor.

Top 5 Factors that Make Startup Succeed (IdeaLab)

  • Ideas (28%)
  • Team / Execution (32%)
  • Business Model ( generate customer revenue) (24%)
  • Funding (14%)
  • Timing (42%) – are consumers really ready for what you are offering

The single biggest reason why start-ups succeed | Bill Gross (Watch on YouTube)

8 founders, leaders highlight fintech and deep tech as Bristol’s top sectors

The U.K. is gaining in popularity as a great place to start a tech firm. The country is quickly catching up to China on the tech investment front, with VC investments reaching a record of $15 billion in 2020, according to TechNation. A global health crisis notwithstanding, London remained a favorite for investors. U.K. cities made up a fifth of the top 20 European cities, with names such as Oxford, Dublin, Edinburgh and Cambridge rising to the fore in 2020.

Bristol proved especially popular among tech investors last year — local businesses raked in an impressive $414 million in 2020, making it the third-largest U.K. city for tech investment. The city also has the most fintech startups per head in the U.K. outside London, according to Whitecap’s 2019-2020 Ecosystem Report.

Efforts by the city’s private and public sectors to modernize the city have helped it rank among the top smart cities in the U.K., attracting a bevy of tech entrepreneurs. Its proximity to London has meant that it is a good alternative for founders looking for a more affordable stay while letting them tap the capital’s financial resources. The University of Bristol also has the largest robotics department in Europe.


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Bristol is also home to an important startup accelerator, SETsquared. A collaborative effort by the five universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey, the accelerator has supported over 4,000 entrepreneurs and helped their startups raise a total of £1.8 billion. Other startup support players include the new Science Creates VC fund, set up by entrepreneur Harry Destecroix, and TechSPARK Engine Shed.

Key emerging startups from Bristol include Graphcore, Open Bionics, Ultraleap, Immersive Labs and Five AI.

To get a better idea of the state of the tech ecosystem and the investor outlook for this city, we surveyed founders, leaders and executives involved in nurturing Bristol’s startup ecosystem.

The survey revealed that the city has a robust renewable, zero-carbon and fintech startup landscape. Robotics, VR, bio, quantum, digital and deep tech are also areas showing promise. As for the investing scene, although Bristol has a healthy angel network, the city lacks institutional VC, but with London only a drive or train ride away, this has not proved a significant problem.

We surveyed:


Coralie Hassanaly, innovation consultant, DRIAD

Which sectors is Bristol’s tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Bristol is strong in renewable and zero-carbon innovation, fintech and robotics. It’s weak in industry 4.0.

Which are the most interesting startups in Bristol?
Graphcore, LettUs Grow, Open Bionics, Ultraleap and YellowDog.

What are the tech investors like in Bristol? What’s their focus?
A lot of focus on fintech, I think.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Bristol or will they move out? Will others move in?
Bristol is a great middle ground between a large dynamic city (plus it’s not far from London) and access to nice countryside area. With remote working we can expect it will attract new residents in the next few years.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Aimee Skinner, Abigail Frear and Stuart Harrison.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
Second major city in U.K. innovation.

Pete Read, CEO and founder, Persona Education

Which sectors is Bristol’s tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Bristol is strong in media/animation, edtech, social impact, health and science. I’m most excited by edtech and the possibility to reach and positively impact millions of students via online learning. It’s weaker in hardware and fintech.

Which are the most interesting startups in Bristol?
Kaedim, Persona Education and One Big Circle.

What are the tech investors like in Bristol? What’s their focus?
There are several very active tech investment networks coming from several angles, e.g., university-led, groups of private angels and tech incubators. The great thing is they all collaborate and share resources, ideas and expertise in initiatives such as The Engine Shed and Silicon Gorge.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Bristol or will they move out? Will others move in?
More people are moving in, as Bristol has a great urban lifestyle with easy access to the countryside and Southwest/Wales holiday spots, and an international airport 20 minutes from the center.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Jerry Barnes at Bristol PE Club; Abby Frear at TechSPARK; Briony Phillips at Rocketmakers; Jack Jordan-Connelly at SETsquared.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
It’s developing rapidly with lots of support, so it will be bigger, attracting more investment and definitely more on the international scene five years from now.

Kiran Krishnamurthy, CEO, AI Labs

Which sectors is Bristol’s tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Our tech ecosystem is strong in the aerospace and defense sector. We are excited by the scope and scale of digital transformation opportunities with AI available in this sector. The main weakness in this sector is the slow pace of transformation, especially now due to the pandemic.

Which are the most interesting startups in Bristol?
Graphcore and YellowDog.

What are the tech investors like in Bristol? What’s their focus?
Compared to the U.K. tech sector average, Bristol has a very low proportion of established companies (4% versus 8%), a higher proportion of seed stage companies (42% versus 37%), and a higher death rate (21% versus 17%). It’s a particularly young ecosystem.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Bristol or will they move out? Will others move in?
It is possible that people moving out of London will come into Bristol due to the transport links, strong ecosystem and beautiful nature of the city.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
I wouldn’t be surprised if Bristol turns out to be San Francisco of Europe!

Simon Hall, director, Airway Medical

Which sectors is Bristol’s tech ecosystem strong in? What does it lack?
Bristol is strong in the medtech, veterinary, industrial sectors.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Bristol or will they move out? Will others move in?
Others have moved in.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
SETsquared.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
We will see massive growth in five years.

Ben Miles, CEO, Spin Up Science

Which sectors is Bristol’s tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Our sector is weak in entrepreneurial ambition among researchers, and so suffers from low rates of deep tech spinout activity from leading universities. We are most excited by the step change in activity we have seen in the past two years and culture shift towards innovation.

Which are the most interesting startups in Bristol?
Rosa Biotech, Albotherm and CytoSeek.

What are the tech investors like in Bristol? What’s their focus?
Medium strength in shallow tech; currently weak in deep tech.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Bristol or will they move out? Will others move in?
People are moving in.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Spin Up Science, Science Creates and Science Angel Syndicate.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
Very strong in deep tech with an invested local community of entrepreneurs, incubators and investors.

Rupert Baines, ex-CEO, UltraSoC

Which sectors is Bristol’s tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Bristol is strong in wireless (5G, 60 GHz, etc.), semiconductors (especially processors, AI/ML and parallel architectures), robotics and other hard tech/deep tech.

Which are the most interesting startups in Bristol?
Graphcore, Ultraleap, Blu Wireless and Five AI.

What are the tech investors like in Bristol? What’s their focus?
It’s limited. There are some angels, but few locally focused funds.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Bristol or will they move out? Will others move in?
Much the same: People choose to live in Bristol/Bath for quality of life. Much of the work is already external — commuting to London.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Nigel Toon, Simon Knowles, Stan Boland, David May and Nick Sturge.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
Much stronger, with more processor and hardware activity.

Mathieu Johnsson, CEO and co-founder, Marble

Which sectors is Bristol’s tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Bristol has a strong robotics, aerospace and renewables scene. I’m most excited to see how the legacy in aerospace in Bristol will translate to future industry-defining companies. The ecosystem is weak on the investor side, though London VCs are less than a two-hour train journey away.

Which are the most interesting startups in Bristol?
Graphcore, Ultraleap and Open Bionics.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Bristol or will they move out? Will others move in?
I believe Bristol will become more attractive.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
Tom Carter at Ultraleap, and Joel Gibbard at Open Bionics.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
Getting closer to London and Cambridge.

Chris Erven, CEO, KETS Quantum Security

Which sectors is Bristol’s tech ecosystem strong in? What are you most excited by? What does it lack?
Bristol has a strong biotech, quantum, digital, science-based/deep tech ecosystem. I’m excited by this eclectic city with exciting people that think differently.

Which are the most interesting startups in Bristol?
Any QTEC, SETsquared, or UnitDX members and alumni.

What are the tech investors like in Bristol? What’s their focus?
Very early/nascent, mostly angels.

With the shift to remote working, do you think people will stay in Bristol or will they move out? Will others move in?
Probably move in! Beautiful green spaces around, lots of interesting, independent shops. And (just about) commutable from London.

Who are the key startup people in the city (e.g., investors, founders, lawyers, designers)?
The incubators — QTEC, QTIC, SETsquared and UnitDX; Bristol Private Equity Club; Harry Destecroix.

Where do you think the city’s tech scene will be in five years?
Buzzing. More great startups and VCs moving in.

Mercuryo raises $7.5M for crypto-focused cross-border payments after crossing $50M in ARR

Mercuryo, a startup that has built a cross-border payments network, has raised $7.5 million in a Series A round of funding.

The London-based company describes itself as “a crypto infrastructure company” that aims to make blockchain useful for businesses via its “digital asset payment gateway.” Specifically, it aggregates various payment solutions and provides fiat and crypto payments and payouts for businesses. 

Put more simply, Mercuryo aims to use cryptocurrencies as a tool for putting in motion next-gen cross-border transfers or as it puts it, “to allow any business to become a fintech company without the need to keep up with its complications.”

“The need for fast and efficient international payments, especially for businesses, is as relevant as ever,” said Petr Kozyakov, Mercuryo’s co-founder and CEO. While there is no shortage of companies enabling cross-border payments, the startup’s emphasis on crypto is a differentiator.

“Our team has a clear plan on making crypto universally available by enabling cheap and straightforward transactions,” Kozyakov said. “Cryptocurrency assets can then be used to process global money transfers, mass payouts and facilitate acquiring services, among other things.” 

Mercuryo began onboarding customers at the beginning of 2019, and has seen impressive growth since with annual recurring revenue (ARR) in April surpassing over $50 million. Its customer base is approaching 1 million, and the company has partnerships with a number of large crypto players including Binance, Bitfinex, Trezor, Trust Wallet, Bithumb and Bybit. In 2020, the company said its turnover spiked by 50 times while run-rate turnover crossed $2.5 billion in April 2021.

To build on that momentum, Mercuryo has begun expanding to new markets, including the United States, where it launched its crypto payments offering for B2B customers in all states earlier this year. It also plans to “gradually” expand to Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.

Target Global led Mercuryo’s Series A, which also included participation from a group of angel investors and brings the startup’s total raised since its 2018 inception to over $10 million.

Image Credits: Left to right: Alexander Vasiliev, Greg Waisman, Petr Kozyakov / MercuryO

The company plans to use its new capital to launch a cryptocurrency debit card (spending globally directly from the crypto balance in the wallet) and continuing to expand to new markets, such as Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Mercuryo’s various products include a multicurrency wallet with a built-in crypto exchange and digital asset purchasing functionality, a widget and high-volume cryptocurrency acquiring and OTC services.

Kozyakov says the company doesn’t charge for currency conversion and has no other “hidden fees.”

“We enable instant and easy cross-border transactions for our partners and their customers,” he said. “Also, the money transfer services lack intermediaries and require no additional steps to finalize transactions. Instead, the process narrows down to only two operations: a fiat-to-crypto exchange when sending a transfer and a crypto-to-fiat conversion when receiving funds.”

Mercuryo also offers crypto SaaS products, giving customers a way to buy crypto via their fiat accounts while delegating digital asset management to the company. 

“Whether it be virtual accounts or third-party customer wallets, the company handles most cryptocurrency-related processes for banks, so they can focus more on their core operations,” Kozyakov said.

Mike Lobanov, Target Global’s co-founder, said that as an experiment, his firm tested numerous solutions to buy Bitcoin.

“Doing our diligence, we measured ‘time to crypto’ – how long it takes from going to the App Store and downloading the app until the digital assets arrive in the wallet,” he said.

Mercuryo came first with 6 minutes, including everything from KYC and funding to getting the cryptocurrency, according to Lobanov.

“The second-best result was 20 minutes, while some apps took forever to process our transaction,” he added. “This company is a game-changer in the field, and we are delighted to have been their supporters since the early days.”

Looking ahead, the startup plans to release a product that will give businesses a way to send instant mass payments to multiple customers and gig workers simultaneously, no matter where the receiver is located.