Tosin Eniolorunda and TeamApt are in the news, and for the right reasons.
Tosin is the Managing Director of TeamApt Limited, a Nigerian finance technology company that provides digital banking business solutions and payment architecture for businesses. He and his company are making headlines for successfully bootstrapping their operations from zero to a profit-making enterprise, and topping their feat with a $5.5 million Series A investment from one of Nigeria’s shrewdest investors.
What is bootstrapping? How did Tosin bootstrap TeamApt into a multi-million dollar money-making enterprise? What does TeamApt plan to do with its new-found equity? What can you learn from Tosin and TeamApt as you set out to finance your own start-up?
Bootstrapping, in entrepreneurship, is a situation in which an entrepreneur starts a company with little capital. An entrepreneur is bootstrapping when he or she attempts to found and build a company from personal finances and/or the operating revenues of the company.
Bootstrap financing, one of the best and least expensive ways an entrepreneur can raise capital, pulls the entrepreneur up with little or no help from outside sources.
In 2015, when Tosin and some colleagues at Interswitch decided to strike out on their own, they had no money and had no friends in high places. All they had was desire, a desire to bootstrap TeamApt into profitability. As a matter of choice, Tosin and his team chose not to get external funding at the early stage of their business.
As senior executives at Interswitch, a Lagos-based, Africa-focused digital payments and commerce company that facilitates electronic circulation of money, and exchange of value between individuals and organisations, they saw a gap in the market.
In few months of operations, Tosin and his founding team set a goal to provide end-to-end service, system automation, credit/debit reconciliation and related digital products to help banks move their transactions, from merchants to banks and vice versa.
TeamApt’s first client was Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) for which it built a payment solution. It developed and launched its first Point of Sale (PoS) solution for Fidelity Bank in 2016 and, two years later, 26 Nigerian banks had adopted its PoS solution.
TeamApt followed with Moneytor, a digital banking solution that enables financial institutions to track transactions on mobile and web platforms, and Monnify, an enterprise software targeted at small and medium enterprises.
Today, not fewer than 98 percent of Nigerian banks use TeamApt’s payments solutions. It has deployed 55 solutions, records 100,000 monthly users, a 4,500 percent revenue growth and $160 million in monthly transactions. It has 71 staff.
After achieving the foregoing without outside money, Tosin and TeamApt knew it was time to scale. They attracted a $5.5 million Series A investment from Lagos-based Quantum Capital Partners, which is the sole investor in this financing round.
A Series A round is a company’s first significant round of venture capital financing, and represents preferred stock sold to investors in exchange for the investment.
Quantum Capital Partners, a private equity firm owned by Jim Ovia, who is also Chairman of Zenith Bank, focuses primarily on investing in or acquiring privately-owned companies trading in consumer goods, agri-business, financial services, energy, telecommunications, resources and manufacturing. Target companies must have established operating history, strong revenue and earnings growth, sustainable profit margins, steady cash flow, and attractive valuations.
TeamApt fitted the bill and plans to use its new funding to build its AptPay App, and other business and consumer products. It also plans to expand its operations to Europe and Canada during this year.
The story of Tosin (who is in his early 30s) and TeamApt (which is barely four years in business) provides inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs. It underlines the fact that Bootstrapping is a financing option in many start-up situations. The Tosin-TeamApt narrative also provides a template for aspiring bootstrappers: Find a market; form your team; leverage your resources; create products and services; watch your cash; and seek outside investors only when your business is already making money and looking for more money to expand.
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