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FlexClub secures $5m funding to scale its unique car subscription marketplace

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FlexClub Founders; Tinashe Ruzane, Marlon Gallardo and Rudolf Vavruch (Source: JNPR)

As consumer behaviour has been reshaped by the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce has fast become the new ‘high street’, with customers now buying everything from groceries and medicine to electronics and even houses all online.  While vehicle purchases are not excluded from these quickly shifting consumer preferences for online retail, the traditional process of buying, insuring and financing a car still remains a major challenge to building a simple digital car shopping experience, given the multiple parties required for the transaction – until FlexClub arrived that is.

Established in 2019, by co-founders Marlon Gallardo, Rudolf Vavruch and Tinashe Ruzane, FlexClub is an online marketplace that connects customers looking for flexible access to long-term cars with its partners offering car subscriptions. FlexClub’s innovative rewards technology enhances the experience for its members, while reducing risk for its partners.

Through this technology, FlexClub is able to assess the risk profile of its members using several alternative data sources and rewards its members for responsible vehicle usage.

Since it collaborated with Uber in Mexico and South Africa in 2019, helping their community of drivers subscribe for cars that become cheaper to purchase every month through rewards, the FlexClub model of all inclusive car subscriptions has gained significant traction. Their unique car subscription marketplace is now also being extended to retail consumers, who are also rewarded for safer driving while subscribing for the vehicle thanks to their ‘Club Rewards Program’.

And it’s not just prospective vehicle buyers who love the FlexClub approach; several leading global tech investors are recognising the value and scalability of the model, which resulted in FlexClub attracting a further US$5 million in equity and debt funding in 2020, significantly bolstering the $US1.2 million it had already raised in 2019.

According to FlexClub co-founder and CEO, Tinashe Ruzane, their latest fundraising round, led by Kindred Ventures, early backers of global technology businesses such as Uber, Postmates, Virgin Hyperloop and Coinbase, demonstrates the recognition by some of the world’s foremost venture investors of the potential for the FlexClub model and the confidence in the strength of its leadership team deeply experienced in mobility.

“With seasoned and highly respected VC investors like Kindred Ventures, CRE Venture Capital and Endeavor getting behind our mission, we’re well placed to usher in the future of how people get cars in markets like Mexico and South Africa” Ruzane says, “and the support from prominent angel investors, like Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress), Federico Ranero (COO of KAVAK), Tariq Zaid (formerly of Shopify and Getaround) and Ron Pragides (formerly of Twitter and Salesforce), further validates the incredible global opportunity for our technology to reimagine commerce in the automotive industry.”

Accordingto Ruzane, the expected transformation of how people acquire their vehicles is not unlike the evolution that happened over the past decade in other consumer sectors such as music retail.

“10 years ago, most people would struggle to imagine a world in which CDs were not the dominant driver of music industry revenues,” he explains, “but today, thanks to the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, streaming accounts for more than 80% of all music revenues generated in the U.S. The industry successfully transitioned from product-led distribution to service-led distribution.” Ruzane is adamant that car subscriptions will drive the same radical transformation of the automotive industry distribution model and he believes that the early traction found by FlexClub with its unique car subscription marketplace points to a much larger opportunity to catalyze this transformation for its partners and members.

“Our partners recognise the opportunity to work with FlexClub to look beyond just driving unit sales of vehicles and transition towards building deeper relationships with customers through this service-driven approach. All while diversifying away from the reliance the auto industry now has on consumer vehicle financing to drive revenue,” he explains, “and the buy-in we have seen from partners like Avis and other major automotive distributors, demonstrates that car subscriptions are finally emerging into the automotive zeitgeist.”

Ruzanesays that FlexClub’s partners are quite diverse, ranging from small fleet owners to multinational fleet operators looking to easily launch car subscription offers on the FlexClub marketplace without requiring significant investment in new technology, infrastructure or operations. Just two years ago, FlexClub’s partners were predominantly individuals looking to earn passive income from owning one or two cars offered on subscription to members. A year ago, private debt funds entered the scene with an interest in the yield opportunity from funding car subscription fleets. Today, partners on FlexClub also include major brands like Avis with tens of thousands of vehicles in their fleet and the operational wherewithal to scale across multiple cities on the FlexClub marketplace.

“Our members are drawn to the fact that, in just a few clicks, they can get flexible access to a car that suits their needs in under a week. Members can choose vehicles from an array of reputable partners, without the need for large upfront deposits, high balloon payment obligations, or rigid long-term vehicle finance contracts; and they always have the freedom to buy the car, return it, or swap it at any time, without incurring any penalties or unexpected costs.”

“By enhancing and simplifying the car shopping experience for our members, and better managing the risk for our partners, FlexClub is supporting the redesign of the auto commerce landscape,” Ruzane concludes, “and we firmly believe that car subscriptions will be one of the fastest-growing segments of automotive retail over the next decade, especially as a growing number of car rental groups, car manufacturers, car dealer groups, leasing companies and even vehicle financiers start to invest more meaningfully in launching their own car subscription offers across the globe. FlexClub is a powerful bridge between the fleets our partners control and the digital car shopping experienceo our members desire.”

 

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Press Release

Dream VC Launches Its 2024 Venture Capital Fellowship Program

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Dream VC, Africa’s foremost venture capital institute and investor accelerator announces the commencement of applications for the 2024 cohorts of their flagship African-focused Venture Capital training programs. Founded in 2021, Dream VC has trained more than 170 African and Africa-focused investment professionals across 3x successive cohorts and 5x programs, many of whom are currently leading and operating in different investment roles across over 65x African investment firms.

The annual remote venture capital fellowship programs provide the ideal launchpad for all aspiring and current investors to break into the African venture space, with an extensive curriculum, practical training, and direct exposure to world-class investors provided to both junior and more venture enthusiasts.

Dream VC’s tailored educational investor training programs are dedicated to creating the necessary pipeline of talent, the next generation of African-focused investors. Investor Acceleratorand Launch into VC are Dream VC’s remotely delivered flagship venture capital fellowship programs, both run entirely virtually. The two concurrently running programs provide an ideal launchpad for all aspiring and current investors to learn, practice, and sharpen the skills needed to successfully find, invest in, and grow African technology businesses.

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“The Dream VC fellowship was a big part of my journey into Venture Capital, it allows you to work alongside enthusiastic venture capitalists in the African VC ecosystem, gain hands-on experience in due diligence and deal sourcing, and build a strong network in the industry,” said Cinderella Alinaitwe, now an Investment Analyst at Pearl Capital Partners, a Dream VC alumni (2021 cohort).

“Dream VC is what I wished I had access to when I started my VC journey. The barrier to entry is high for anyone looking to break into the African VC industry, and going through Dream VC equips individuals with the necessary skills set needed to land that entry-level role at an African VC firm. With more African funds springing up every year, there is a huge opportunity to fill positions and get the best talent. The current gaps in the market for talent are huge, and Dream VC is plugging into a critical pain point. With Dream VC, you are sure of the best talents to hire from.” echoes Dayo Koleowo, General Partner at Microtraction and a past speaker at Dream VC’s venture capital training programs.

This year, Dream VC is back in full force with an expanded team and a success rate evidenced by the many funds that count Dream VC alumni on their teams. In 2024, the investor accelerator will accept applications for their now-familiar venture capital training programs from today, the 27th of February 2024. The two programs running for this year are:

Dream VC’s focus on accessibility continues, and Dream VC is proud to share that they have once again secured a round of commitments from their partners and alumni to enable the Dream VC Access Foundation (Dream VC’s scholarship arm) to provide much-needed support and financial assistance to any aspiring investor-in-training, who makes it through the application process but cannot cover a portion of the program costs.

“Our commitment at Dream VC extends far beyond merely churning out a set number of investors within a specific timeframe. We’re dedicated teachers and builders, meticulously identifying and bridging gaps within the investor ecosystem across Africa. We firmly believe in the immense potential of African talent. Through our programs, we’re shaping future leaders poised to enter various roles within the venture capital landscape, from joining VCs and launching funds of their own to becoming angels, venture builders, and ecosystem enablers at ESOs,” remarked Mark Kleyner, Co-Founder of Dream VC, highlighting Dream VC’s pivotal role and continued success rate in nurturing and empowering investors, funds, and corporate entities to actively participate in Africa’s burgeoning startup scene.

Applications for the 2024 cohort for “Launch into VC (LIVC)’’ and “Investor Accelerator” programs open on Tuesday, February 27th, and will close at 23:59 GMT on the 14th of April 2024.

Both programs will run concurrently from summer to autumn. Launch into VC runs for 4 months from June to Late September. The Investor Accelerator program commences in June and runs until October for a total of 5 months.

Interested applicants can apply for the 2024 cohort of Dream VC’s programs here before 23:59 GMT on April 14th, 2024: https://forms.gle/DJuY7QHsMMYxBEBZ9

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Press Release

Amila Africa Launches Amila Insights

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Amila Africa Founder, Lethabo Sithole 

Amila Africa is thrilled to announce the launch of Amila Insights, a revolutionary division that is committed to providing advanced analytics, research and comprehensive solutions for businesses, governments, and international organisations looking to achieve success in African markets. The company offers a range of services, including syndicated market intelligence reports, customized research solutions, high-level market access events, content development, and value communication. 

As a budding pan-African and women-led advisory firm specialising in policy, enterprise and infrastructure development within the trade, investment and energy sectors, Amila Africa brings unparalleled expertise to the forefront with the launch of Amila Insights. 

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“With a focus on demystifying development trends and delivering data-driven analyses of opportunities across Africa, Amila Insights serves as the strategic partner organisations need to thrive in the region” said Lethabo Sithole, Managing Director of Amila Africa. “Our suite of services is meticulously designed to empower clients with the tools and knowledge necessary to drive growth and achieve sustainable success.” 

With a steadfast commitment to collaboration and partnership, Amila Insights collaborates closely with clients to develop tailored solutions aligned with their specific goals and priorities. “By leveraging its extensive network and deep understanding of local dynamics, Amila Insights assists clients in identifying new opportunities, enhancing competitiveness, and optimising business strategies,” said Noluthando Mthonti-Mlambo, Executive Director at Amila Insights. 

Amila Insights strives to be more than just a provider of information and data to clients. It aims to challenge the existing narratives on Africa, African businesses, countries, and multilateral organizations and become a trusted source of inspiration and change. 

For businesses, governments, and international organisations seeking to unlock the vast potential of African markets, Amila Insights represents a compelling opportunity to gain useful insights into the complex, evolving and growing African market. With a focus on excellence and a dedication to delivering tangible results, Amila Insights stands ready to be the trusted partner organisation to rely on to navigate the dynamic landscape of African business.

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Press Release

Africa Finance Corporation Appoints Emeka Emuwa as Chairman of Board

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Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the continent’s leading instrumental infrastructure solutions provider, today announces the appointment of Mr. Emeka Emuwa as Chairman of its Board of Directors. Mr. Emuwa brings a wealth of experience spread over three decades leading and transforming banking institutions across Africa. After completing a sterling 25-year career with Citibank where he left as the Country Officer and Managing Director of Citibank in Nigeria, he went on to serve as the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank of Nigeria. 

In this role, he led the bank’s transformation and worked successfully with the new shareholders to transform and restore one of Nigeria’s oldest institutions back to its rightful position as a credible and strong provider of financial services. Mr. Emuwa’s extensive experience and unwavering dedication to the advancement of Africa make him a valuable asset to AFC at a time when the Corporation is rapidly expanding its operations across the continent and building partnerships through international collaborations.

He has been a part of AFC’s Board since 2015, previously serving as the Chairman of the Board Risk and Investment Committee, and as a member of the Board Nominations and Governance Committee. He is also the Chairman of Tangerine Financial (U.K.), the holding company for a financial services group providing insurance and pensions solutions across the continent. Mr Emuwa is thus well positioned to oversee and guide AFC on its future strategy and growth aspirations. The Corporation’s mission to accelerate development impact, foster industrialisation, and enhance value capture and retention across the continent through the provision of critical infrastructure, is crucial for African development and prosperity.

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Speaking on the appointment, Samaila Zubairu, President & CEO of AFC, said: “Mr. Emuwa’s considerable experience, insightful perspectives and immense dedication to Africa’s development seamlessly align with our mission. We are confident that under his continued guidance, AFC will continue to make significant strides in transforming the continent. He brings a deep understanding of Africa’s financial landscape within a global context, and has a clear vision for enabling AFC to further amplify its impact.”

Mr. Emuwa commented on his appointment, saying: “I am deeply honoured to be appointed Chairman of Africa Finance Corporation, an institution that has, over the past 16 years, evolved into the leading infrastructure investor in Africa, delivering transformational projects across pivotal sectors of the economy. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the board, management, and all stakeholders to advance AFC’s mission and strengthen its role as a driving force for economic growth and infrastructure development on the African continent.”

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