Kenyan tourism-focused startup studio Purple Elephant Ventures raises $1M in pre-seed funding

A venture studio based in Kenya with a focus on tourism, Purple Elephant Ventures (PEV) has raised $1 million in pre-seed funding to build next-generation startups that use technology to modernize the tourism sector.

Investors participating in the round include Canadian investment firm Klister Credit Corp., The Untours Foundation, and a number of angel backers, including Playfair Capital founder Fede Pirzio-Biroli. Ian McCaig, former CEO of and board member of M-Kopa. Anthony Rock, President of Rock Impact Capital. Impact Capital executive his director Rich Hoops. He is Jim Villanueva, Managing Director of the Global Partnerships Social Venture Fund, and Helena Riese Harstad, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Optimizer Foundation.

The Venture Studio plans to launch about four startups each year at the intersection of tourism, climate and technology.

“I think what is exciting for the team is all the possibilities of digitizing tourism for a greener future. We organized an ideas session to have a very structured conversation about examining tourism in terms of building businesses that help reduce the carbon footprint of tourism in Africa. We do,” said the CEO. Ben Petersonco-founded a startup with Mikul ShahWhen Jan Van der Does de Willeboisearly 2020 – just before Covid hit.

Despite the uncertainty in the tourism sector due to the Covid pandemic, the PEV team did not slow down and launched two startups instead. Elephant Bookings, a software as a service (SaaS) product, and Nomad.Africa, a content. to commerce magazine.

Elephant Bookings is a B2B product that brings hospitality providers online and helps increase occupancy by enabling direct bookings. Nomad.Africa was founded by Shah, who is also the founder of restaurant discovery site EatOut Africa. Venture Studio is currently looking for a co-founder and CEO for two startups.

But why the emphasis on tourism?

“There are thousands of startups in agriculture, fintech, energy and health, all major sectors of the African economy, but very few in tourism, and only a handful have raised capital. This is despite the fact that tourism is one of the largest sectors on the continent,” said Peterson, also a former senior partner at AHL Venture Partners, an early stage African VC.

“It seemed a little strange to me, so I started looking into why that was the case, and ultimately came to the conclusion that this was a large industry with substantial profit margins, but in the 1970s, is completely stuck.The way it works.Most tourism organizations have very little online presence.You can go to the most expensive safari lodge website and still be able to book a room. You have to email or call an agent and it takes multiple steps to actually book,” he said, adding that Elephant Bookings is the solution to the first gap PEV has seen in the market. rice field.

Perterson said further research has revealed to PEV that the African industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, so it is ripe for disruption.

“I realized there was a problem with modernizing this industry and started looking a little more closely. I quickly came to the conclusion that there is more than one business opportunity to modernize the tourism sector. There were dozens of potential ways to do it.”

Africa’s tourism sector is expected to grow at a rate of 6.8% over the next decade, doubling the economic growth rate of the entire continent to reach $279 billion. This is according to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which also shows that 14 million new jobs will be created during this period.

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