Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Alpha Angels Scores big on first start-up investment

Published:Tuesday | September 6, 2016 | 9:00 AM

Perfect pick! Montego Bay-based Alpha Angels made an impressive selection for its very first start-up investment - mSurvey.

Just five months after the high-growth tech start-up won the attention and seed capital of the Jamaican-based angel investor group, it banked investment from a US$1-million investment arm of the mobile network operator, Safaricom, known for the successful creation of mobile money M-PESA, with over 21 million customers and over US$20 billion of transactions.

The company also secured capital from Cross Culture Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley, and other investors such as the CTO of Salesforce. mSurvey, founded by Caribbean national Kenfield Griffith, is the only global mobile-first research survey platform that uses SMS and mobile messaging technology to collect on-demand data from consumers.

The CEO, who migrated from Montserrat to Kenya to find an unsaturated market for his business idea, created a scalable business in the African country which now boasts 3.1 million customer engagements. mSurvey was also featured in an article by the leading technology media hub, TechCrunch, which is a big win for the start-up who has clients like Harvard, McKinsey, Safaricom and Digicel.

 

Entrepreneurial journey

 

Kenfield's entrepreneurial journey started during his PhD career at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied computer science and submitted a patent for his product. He wanted to launch a company based on what he discovered, but in an underserved market. His only connections to Kenya were the great colleagues he met while conducting his PhD research and the inherent problem he was solving with mSurvey in Kenya and other emerging economies, which became his next big move.

Chairman of Alpha Angels, Yoni Epstein, says "this is a major breakthrough for a business run by a Caribbean national. It brings to the fore the possibilities for Caribbean entrepreneurs to scale and grow outside the region, into markets with large, growing populations that are ripe with opportunity. Kenfield also saw the opportunity for Jamaican and Caribbean companies to access this disruptive technology and capitalise on the use of instant data, and has been actively courting customers in the region. As the product is not application- based and does not rely on data service, it is easily accessible by any consumer with a mobile phone with SMS and messaging capabilities."

mSurvey is working on scaling to the Caribbean market and further grow its business.