FROM THE VENTURE GARDEN GROUP TO 500 STARTUPS
SureBids, the mother company of pioneer gifting platform Suregifts.com.ng has been admitted into the 500 Startups incubator. The startup which started as an online gifting platform has metamorphosed into a solution providing access to credit and ultimately trying to kill cash in Africa.
SureBids journey is all shades of amazing and is a lesson for many entrepreneurs. It is what you may call a learning startup. It is on a mission to replace cash with vouchers just the way many card issuers and payment companies have attempted to do with cards. The argument on whether this is possible due to the shopping habits of African consumers will deserve an article of its own.
Early Days As SureGifts And Relationship With The Venture Garden Group
SureBids started its journey as SureGifts.com.ng in 2014. It was founded by Adeoye Ojo, Babafemi Lawal and Olaoluwa Samuel-Biyi. They were all ex-employees of Jumia and must have come about the idea during their time at the E-commerce company. The founders and their team built a network of merchants with whom consumer could redeem Suregifts’ vouchers. The startup made money from its gifting platform by collecting five-to-thirty-percent commission from its merchants.
It later created a solution for corporate gifting. This allowed organizations gift their employees vouchers instead of products like rice, cooking oil etc. which they typically give as end of the year incentives.
SureGifts received an investment from the Venture Garden Group (VGG) and other angel investors. VGG is an holding company that creates and actively invests in early-stage fin-tech startups in Nigeria. SureGifts is one of its ventures. Others include Talentbase, CashEnvoy, Tutor.ng and Prepclass. VGG was founded by Bunmi Akinyemiju an ICT veteran with over 16 years of entrepreneurial experience.
ransformation To SureBids And Progress To 500 Startups
This article about SureBids’ transformation and progress is highly recommended. It clearly shows the startup’s journey and leaves a lesson for aspiring entrepreneurs. One thing you will notice is the level of detail in the article and the clarity with which the vision of the organization is outlined.
As the startup progressed, it gradually built more solutions around its core voucher system and its merchant network thereby delivering additional value for its users. SureCredit is quite interesting, it is an online voucher financing platform that allows employees from selected companies get voucher loans and then pay later, over a period of time. This model is a common one but the twist here is; the users get voucher loans and not cash.
SureBids got admitted into the 18th batch of 500 startups ‘incubatees’. The batch comprises 46 companies. This is a validation of the business model, the solution it is providing and and its potential. 500 Startups is an early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator founded by Dave McClure and Christine Tsai in 2010. It has locations in Mountain View and San Francisco both in California, USA. It provides a work-space, “Startup MBA education”, funds, connections etc. to its ‘incubatees’.
Startup Lessons From SureBid’s Story
You probably have figured all the lessons from this story already, we have created a list, anyway, we think might help:
- Always keep learning what works: SureBids’ journey from SureGifts shows a startup that keeps learning. This is what keeps a business alive.
- Be very clear about what your goal and business is. Many founders don’t even know what business they are in. SureBids demonstrates that it is clear on what it seeks to achieve. In one word for SureBids it is; KILL CASH.
- Always be moving! While this may not seem like a major key, founders always need to keep thinking of the next step that can move their business forward. Never rest on your laurels, always be moving. Don’t be so stuck on one single idea that you never see what’s possible.
- Understand your market. SureBids clearly understands its market. Credit is a big deal in the Nigerian market. People want it everywhere you go. It makes sense to somehow find a way to make it happen. In simple terms, give the market what it asks for.