SOUTH AFRICA – Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, is preparing to open a Sub-Saharan Africa office situated in Johannesburg and is calling for launch partners to help it support innovative African startups.  

Former Goldman Sachs investment banker, Grace Legodi, who will be heading up Plug and Play’s South Africa office, explains that the firm is an innovation platform bringing together an ecosystem of change-makers.  

Legodi says when Plug and Play launch its services in Johannesburg later this year, the initial focus will be centred around helping corporate South Africa 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,” he said.  

Plug and Play oversees an ecosystem of over 20 000 start-ups, 400 corporate partners and more than 180 venture capital firms from 35 locations worldwide.  

Plug and Play is a core innovation platform centred around venture capital, accelerator programs and corporate innovation. The firm has more than 900 active investments and carries a portfolio valuation of US$1 billion.  

Its key value proposition is geared to help B2B start-ups work with corporates while also aiming to assist start-ups in connecting with investors. In addition, the team is focused on finding innovative tech solutions to address corporate needs.  

The venture capital firm will assist the South African market through customised offerings, deal flows, round-table events and innovation sessions, business development and expos.  

The firm will be aiming to connect entrepreneurs with corporate and public enterprise partners to build a high-quality innovation platform for South Africa and Africa as a whole.  

Legodi adds that Plug and Play have been “playing in the early-stage investment space” for more than two decades, and currently invests in more than 300 tech companies worldwide, in conjunction with venture capital partners.  

She adds that Plug and Play’s “key proposition in the venture capital segment has been as a global investor for start-ups that have global ambitions”.  

“We have an 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.”  

The Plug and Play innovation platform is built around three pillars; venture capital, start-up business development accelerator and corporate innovation.  

Legodi adds that the firm leverages its global locations and mature start-up platform with every tailored approach to bring innovative solutions to the doorstep 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.”  

The firm is currently invested in companies such as Flutterwave, WorldCover and HealthLine. The challenge for Plug and Play will be to continue to find and implement innovative technologies that address corporate needs.