AlphaCode is the Rand Merchant Investment Holdings (RMI) incubation, acceleration and investment vehicle that identifies, partners and grows early stage financial service ventures, which each year selects eight disruptive financial services startups for its Incubate programme.
The year-long startup support initiative, run in partnership with RMI, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Royal Bafokeng Holdings, is looking for applications from solutions that could disrupt the financial services sector and grow rapidly locally or internationally to create the next OUTsurance or Discovery.
Each selected startup gains access to a package valued at ZAR2 million (US$140,000), including ZAR1 million (U$70,000) in grant funding and the same amount in support services. These include mentorship, monthly expert-led sessions, exclusive office space in Sandton, marketing, legal and other business support services, as well as access to like-minded entrepreneurs, and RMI’s network of thought leaders, potential clients and capital.
“Whilst the initial attraction is the money, we have had our previous participants say that they value the top rate mentorship and learnings they get even more. We’ve showcased key learning modules such as regulation in financial services, digital marketing basics and growth hacking with speakers from the Reserve Bank and Luno,” said Andile Maseko, head of ecosystem development at AlphaCode.
AlphaCode is looking for startups focused on insurtech, data analytics, lending, savings and investments, blockchain or any other area of financial services. It looks for strong entrepreneurial teams of two or more people with tech or financial services understanding and a business idea or model that they have validated a business case for, at least through some potential customer engagements. AlphaCode will also consider whether it can invest in this business over the longer term.
Last year more than 200 startups applied for the programme, which has so far disbursed ZAR21 million (US$1.47 million) in funding to 23 black-owned financial services businesses. Startups that took part last year included self-service credit life insurance platform Yalu and gamified savings tool Akiba Digital.
Applications for the programme close on June 18, after which there will be a rigorous selection process involving a bootcamp for those shortlisted. The final shortlist of 16 applicants will pitch in front of a judging panel on August 1 in order to secure one of the programme slots.