African data collection startup Bamba has announced today that it has closed its first seed investment round after raising US$1.1 million (Kes. 110 million) in investment funds, making it one of the most successful seed rounds completed by an East African startup.
Bamba is a boutique data collection agency that specializes in innovative solutions for rapidly gathering cost-effective and high-quality consumer insights from emerging markets that can be otherwise challenging to reach. One such solution is Bamba’s unique tool that allows the building of highly targeted and responsive panels for data collection.
With humble beginnings in Nairobi, the company started with just its 3 co-founders, Al Ismaili, CEO, Shehzad Tejani, COO and Faiz Hirani, CTO and had a core workforce of 7 full-time employees in 2015.
“Since then, we’ve further expanded to employ 21 full-time staff, along with numerous other field consultants around the world. It’s incredible; we’ve established a global reach, spanning Canada, US, UK, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria. This is in large part thanks to ongoing support from our investors,” says Al Ismaili, co-founder and CEO.
Consumers in emerging markets have become more engaged and connected through widespread adoption of smartphone or feature phone technology, presenting the opportunity to finally tap into the wants, needs and opinions of these consumers for companies agile and innovative enough to build the right tools.
Bamba came through the TechStars accelerator program in 2016, where they gained access to a well-established network that provided them with business development mentorship, customer acquisition, capital, talent recruitment, as well as a sizable initial financial investment as part of the accelerator program.
Bamba’s cutting-edge data collection software also attracted some attention from within Africa. In November 2016, Bamba was invited to participate in Lions’ Den, the Kenyan equivalent to popular TV programs Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank, where Bamba pitched to the show’s panel of 5 venture capitalists (also known as Lions). They successfully won over Darshan Chandaria, CEO and director of the Chandaria Industries Group, who invested US$250,000 (Kes. 25 million) to be used to expand Bamba’s operations throughout Africa.
Having achieved its investment goal for the first seed round, Bamba now looks to the future with plans to put the US$1.1 million towards developing new innovative data collection solutions, supporting a larger number of clients, and expanding its team and geographical reach. Of course, this will all be done while continuing to lend a voice to people in emerging markets so that they can play a bigger role in shaping their world.