Really stoked and extremely honoured to be able to officially announce that Real Time Wine (my little drinking hobby turned startup) has closed an Angel Investment round.
What you see up on the website at the moment is the content pilot, an early proof of traction attempt more than anything else. What's cooking up at Prezence (our dev partners) is a full mobile, tablet and smartphone experience. Glad I can finally announce it. Should be cool :)
We wanted to announce this for a couple of reasons...
- To give the local funding ecosystem something to talk about. Plenty of angel deals happen, but they don't get talked about, which leads to this weird belief that either there is no funding available for tech startups, or that the money isn't getting invested. Both are untrue. With a pitch and a plan (provided they're great) there is every chance of getting a concept funded to prototype stage.
- To let you know that a blog-on-steroids (pretty much what you find on the site at the moment) is not all we've got in us. Plenty more to come.
- To lay the groundwork for when I come hunting for early adopters and alpha testers. Your wine site needs you people. Get in touch!
- Because we've got some amazing investors - who have confidence in a crazy idea. At least confidence enough to try hard and fail fast. That's not something we get in SA much.
On another note, just a word on how this fits in with Mzansi Gold (the angel network / entrepreneur community started by Colette Symanovitz and myself a while back). The project is definitely still on the boiler. There is a huge amount of work we want to do (especially on the pitch and plan side of the equation - where South Africa is lacking). We just need to get the structure in place to execute it properly. I hate promising and not delivery. So rather promise slowly. Couple of reasons why this didn't go through Mzansi Gold:
- Collaboration is awesome - and something we need more of in the local funding ecosystem
- It's a bit nepotistic (is that even a word?). Seriously, the first Mzansi deal is one of the cofounders? Would sound naf.
- Our experience is not in structuring deals (where AngelHub does have specific experience), but more in selecting and connecting entrepreneurs to angels
- We're taking the foot off the accelerator just a leeeetle. Mostly to focus on our startups, but more importantly to nail down some crucial industry partnerships
Anyhoo. Lots of song and dance but the really tough stuff starts now. Just got the first set of UX wireframes from Prezence and I am extremely excited about where the project is going. I hope you'll like it as much as I do. More on this in about 2 months. For now, heads down. Product product product.
Remember to get in touch if you want early access / be an alpha tester / get an awesome bottle (we hope) of Real Time Wine that we're bottling at the moment (hell, one has to have promo items, doesn't one?)
Official release below...
Real Time Wine chooses AngelHub to help it shake up the wine industry
Real Time Wine (www.realtimewine.com), the cheeky 140-character wine review site that is shaking up the local industry, has partnered with business angel investment group AngelHub to grow the business.
“The wine discovery and review system is broken,” says Real Time Wine founder Andy Hadfield (@andyhadfield), a digital industry veteran and colourful web personality. “It’s pretty snobby and full of inner-circle jargon, which makes choosing wine a daunting business for the 75% of us who buy it in supermarkets. Real Time Wine is about making wine fun again, and helping the guys and girls without a training certificate find the good stuff.”
Having secured interest and private angel funding from Angel investors Michael Jordaan (@michaeljordaan) and Mike Ratcliffe (@mikeratcliffe / @warwickwine) to develop a working pilot, Hadfield turned to AngelHub to structure the deal and provide supporting infrastructure for growing the business.
“AngelHub co-founder Keet van Zyl (@poweredbyVC) is one of the most experienced tech industry venture capitalists in South Africa,” says Hadfield. “When the time comes for us to seek a second round of funding, he’s definitely someone we want in our corner. His knowledge and expertise, combined with his access to international networks, is priceless.”
In addition, says Hadfield, “AngelHub offers us discounted access to some of the best professional suppliers around, including Bowman Gilfillan Attorneys and Mazars Accountants. That’s a huge advantage and frees me up to concentrate on developing the site and the business.”
AngelHub’s Brett Commaille (@brettcommaille) says the purpose of the manager-led angel group is to bridge the funding gap that has long bedevilled South Africa’s tech industry: “There is plenty of money around but no formal access to angel funding for early-stage startups (companies needing between R1m and R10m to get going). We believe this is a very good opportunity for us to fund long-term sustainable growth.”
Hadfield says the AngelHub model is well tailored to South African needs: “The funding ecosystem here is relatively immature, and because both sides of a funding deal need more protection, there tends to be a lot more legal documentation involved here than in, say, the US. AngelHub have developed a flexible model that can adapt to the huge diversity of potential investees – I’m glad to be among their first set of investments and help grow the funding ecosystem. Entrepreneurs out there need to know that funding is possible. Solid business plans and great pitches do actually work!”
Real Time Wine is AngelHub’s second paid out deal in six months. “We offer expertise, networks and mentorship in addition to funding. We manage demand from entrepreneurs needing funding but also from Angels needing somebody to find them deals and walk them through the process and manage their new investment,” says Commaille. “The time is right to create a hub that connects would-be angel investors with entrepreneurs who need funding, and then managing the startup growth path all the way through to create sustainable South African businesses.”