Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley headquartered corporate innovation platform, start-up business development accelerator and venture capital company, is gearing up to formally open its Sub-Saharan Africa office in Johannesburg later this year. This was announced at the company’s recent COVID-19 webinar series (https://bit.ly/PNPSA0513playlist) titled Digital Solutions for Africa, which was held for start-ups and corporates on the African continent.
With an ecosystem of more than 20,000 start-ups, 400 major corporate partners and over 180 venture capital firms across 35 global locations, Plug and Play aims to connect entrepreneurs with some of South Africa’s biggest corporations, government departments and universities to build one of the highest quality innovation platforms in the country as well as for the rest of the African continent.
“We are an innovation platform bringing together an ecosystem of change makers with the aim of helping new technology get to market faster. When we formally launch our services in Johannesburg later this year, our initial focus will be centred around helping corporate South Africa work with start-ups in the execution of their innovation strategies. We want to help talented African start-ups to grow and become global companies that will help drive the economy, and create the jobs that we so desperately needed,” says former Goldman Sachs investment banker, Grace Legodi, who will be heading up Plug and Play’s South Africa office.
Former Goldman Sachs investment banker,
Grace Legodi will head Plug and Play’s
Johannesburg, South Africa office.
The company’s innovation platform consists of three pillars: venture capital, start-up business development accelerator as well as corporate innovation.
“Plug and Play has been playing in the early stage investment space for over 20 years. Today we invest in over 300 technology companies worldwide alongside our venture capital partners. Our key value proposition in the venture capital segment has been as a global investor for start-ups that have global ambitions. We have appetite to take a risk on entrepreneurs that are committed to taking a risk on themselves. Looking at the snapshot of our investment portfolio, we currently have over 900 active investments. Almost a dozen have grown to become unicorns exceeding a $1-billion valuation,” Legodi adds.
She says that in Africa, the company is currently invested in companies such as Flutterwave, WorldCover and HealthLane, amongst others. “We hope that our South Africa plans will be a springboard to invest further in African technologies that can be just as successful locally as on the global stage.”
Elaborating on the company’s accelerator programs, Legodi says they are fine tuned for start-up business development in particular. “Start-ups are at the very heart of our innovation model. Here, our key value proposition is toward assisting B2B enterprise start-ups to work with corporate companies in the pilot and scale of their product offerings. We also aim to assist start-ups to connect with investors and industry mentors. Uniquely, our model does not require start-ups to give up their equity as it ensures ‘corporate start-up stakeholder alignment’. The value proposition for the start-up is giving them a global avenue to generate revenue and gain broader market exposure.”
In terms of the corporate innovation pillar, Plug and Play is focused on finding and implementing technologies that address corporate innovation needs. “For Africa in particular, the value proposition is to provide a service offering that will help corporates learn how best to work with start-ups. Without the support and participation of corporates, start-ups cannot survive. Corporates can be leaders in ensuring a thriving ecosystem,” Legodi says.
She further adds that gone are the days of having to travel for exposure to innovative international ideas. “With a very custom tailored approach, we will leverage our global locations as well as our mature start-up platform and bring innovative solutions to the door step of South African companies. Some corporates in South Africa have informed us that local start-ups tend to be too early stage to work within a large corporate environment. Therefore, we want to promote talented South African start-ups to join our global platform and mature with our international corporate partners that have more appetite for early stage technology. For start-ups, this opens doors to engage with our global business development programmes.”
For more information about Plug and Play visit https://www.plugandplaytechcenter.com/about/