440 is a Joint Venture between 88mph (South Africa and Kenya) and L5Lab (Lagos). They will be launching an accelerator programme in Lagos this September.
440 looks to invest in 10 startups building products and services targeted at the African market. These startups will undergo a 3-month (September 10th – December 10th) accelerator programme with 440 and stand to receive between $20k – $110k in financing.
Applications are currently open so if you are interested, apply now on the 440 website. Applications close on the 1st of August while shortlisted candidates will be informed by the 31st of August.
440 Accelerator Programme 2014
- 440 is a JV between 88mph and L5Lab. We provide startups with between $20k-110k investment for 10-25% equity in their businesses. See investment terms here.
- We invest in startups that target the African markets and are scalable via web/mobile. We accept up to 10 startups per program who will spend 3 months with us, refining their products, business models, and go-to-market. Applications close August 1st. All startups will be notified by August 31st. Program runs from September 10th till December 10th. See here for more information on how it works
Why should I apply to 440?
- If you are a startup with a mobile product or service targeting African markets, chances are you won’t find a better way to start your company. Besides offering funding, we have partnerships with multinationals, OEMs, and operators to facilitate go-to-market, networks to investors and prominent business leaders, and a team that has experience creating and growing businesses.
How does this work?
- We open for applications about 3 months before a program starts. The dates are set on an ongoing basis. This year applications are open from May 15th until August 1st. You can also see on the home page if applications are open at any time. You have to apply before the application deadline to be considered for funding. Only companies that receive funding can join the program. If we like your application, we invite you in for an interview about 3 weeks before program start. If the interview was successful, you will be notified minimum 10 days before program start. The program starts on September 10th. If you are offered funding and invited to join the program, you will need to agree to the general investment terms as well as individual terms prior to the program starting. If you join, your startup will spend 3 months fulltime with us at the Lagos Startup Garage.
Are investment terms negotiable?
- No. For us to be able to do this many investments, we can’t have flexible terms – apart from the individual terms like investment amount and % equity we ask for, which will vary across startups. The amount and percentage will depend on your team and your progress so far.
How do I prepare an application?
- We accept applications online. We run 1 program per location per year. Hereare the 17 questions you will be asked on our application form. You will also have the possibility to submit a video.
We receive hundreds of applications for every program, and the ones that have stood out, have:
- Described the relevant backgrounds of all founders, and how they compliment each other
- Convinced us that there is a sizeable market for their product/service
- Indicated that they understand this market
- Noted what they’ve done so far to build the product and attract users, including the things that have failed
- Shown that they are hungry.
I don’t live in Lagos, can I still apply?
- Yes. The program aims to attract applicants from all over Africa, and beyond. See FAQs for international applicants below.
Do we have to be physically present for an interview?
- We have accepted skype/hangout interviews in the past, but to date, have not made an investment where the startup chose to use this format. And only once, where one of the founders had to call in for the interview.
Do you invest in social entrepreneurs?
- We invest in startups that can scale. We don’t put entrepreneurs in categories. Entrepreneurs are people who want to create something new and in doing so, create competition, jobs, better products for consumers, and ultimately a profit. Companies without profits find it difficult to scale.
- I have a job and am doing my startup on the side. Can I keep my job if I get accepted?
- No. Only in extreme cases will we accept startups that don’t have all the founders present during the program. Building a startup is a team effort that requires full focus and commitment.
What if I have an idea, but no team?
- We very rarely invest in one-man shows so we definitely encourage you to find and build a team before applying.
What if I fail?
- 440 invests against equity in your startup, so you are not liable in any way if you should fail.
Do you expect a certain return on investment within a set timeframe?
- No. We don’t set a specific target or time frame at this early stage.
Can I apply if I have funding already?
- Yes. Many startups use acceleration programs to gain networks, exposure and mentorship. In many cases these can be more important than capital. We have invested in 1 week old startups and 5 year old startups. What’s important is that the startup needs and wants to make huge progress on their company in a very short time. The key is a commitment to listening to and understanding the advice provided.
What do you invest in?
- Our focus is purely businesses that scale well through web/mobile and target African markets.
Do you give grants?
- No. If 440 doesn’t get any equity, there is no incentive for us to help you succeed and no business model that makes this initiative sustainable in the long-term.
What happens after the program?
- We continue to work with and support the startups if and when they ask. Hopefully you used the program to experiment and test your products and business models, and will spend the year after the program closing a follow-on round, executing your business and increasing traction. Building a company takes many years; the accelerator program is just the beginning.
Do you sign NDAs?
- No. We see a lot of ideas and we don’t want to get into legal trouble. Odds are that you are not the only one with that idea and someone else might pitch the same (or similar) idea with a stronger team. Or maybe you pitch something that is very close to something we are already working on.
Do the startups get free office space during the program?
- Yes. For 3 months all the startups we invest in are hosted at the Lagos Startup Garage.
Can I quit the program before the 3 months are over?
- It is your choice to leave it if you want. However, the investment is tied to your participation in the program and you may not receive the full investment if you do not complete the program.
How can I become an investor?
- If you are interested in investing, sign up to our demo days at the end of the program, or come to our offices to see our teams during the program. If you are not local, you can contact us by emailing [email protected]
How can I become a Mentor?
- We find most of the people we work with via referral or at our events and, occasionally, twitter.
I would like to bring my MBA class to visit 440
- While our programs are ongoing we don’t have the bandwidth to accommodate visitors who are not directly involved in helping our startups. If you’d like to visit one of the Startup Garages outside of the 3-month programs, please contact them directly.
I would like to partner with 440
- We are approached by many organisations and companies that would like to partner with 440, and try to make room for all serious requests. A request is serious if it can help the startups in one way or another, has the intention to a commit money, time or equivalent, and intends to get something in return for the commitment. We never partner, just to partner.
Application Closing Date
1st August, 2014.
How to Apply
Interested candidates should:
Click Here To Apply