A Year in Review at Meltwater Incubator in Accra – Ghana

Meltwater Incubator in AccraThe MEST Incubator in Accra, Ghana was an exciting place to be in 2012.  This incubator provides seed funding and world class advisors to graduates of the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) who are successful at their final pitch. MEST’s mission is to create the next generation of African technology entrepreneurs who will innovate to find solutions to real problems facing the world today.

MEST is a two year graduate program that equips Ghanaians with the entrepreneurial and technological skills necessary to successfully develop, launch and operate their own technology companies. MEST was launched in 2008 and is currently invested in eleven startups:  AdsBrookClaimSyncDropifiFreelanceProLeti GamesmPawaNandimobileNevaholdRetail TowerSaya and Streemio. AdsBrook, FreeLancePro, mPawa and Nevahold are the newest members of the incubator since graduating in June 2012.

Meltwater Companies

Over the course of the year, the companies worked tirelessly to offer excellent services to consumers on a global scale. Here’s a look at some of the achievements of Ghana’s top technology startups over the past year:

In September, Sayaa web based chat app, became the first African company to compete in the TechCrunch Disrupt Startup Battlefield in San Francisco. Along the way they made a ton of great connections that led to meetings with potential investors and others interested in partnerships.

mPawaan app connecting employers and blue collar workers, was chosen as one of 40 companies to pitch at DEMO Africa in October, advanced to become one of the 5 companies to make it into the inaugural group of DEMO Africa Lions and will be heading to San Francisco in the fall of this year to participate in DEMO. Back at home, Maxwell Donkor, CEO and co-founder, was busy being interviewed by numerous news stations, including Joy 99.7 FM, BusinessNews and Vibe.

Dropifia fully customizable contact widget, was named the Best IT Startup in the world by the US based Kauffman Foundation’s Global Startup Open for 2012. They officially launched during the opening event for Global Entrepreneurship Week in Ghana in November. In addition, the company racked up a whole slew of accolades including being named one of Forbes’ Top 20 Startups in Africa, one of the World’s Most Promising New Companies by Yahoo Finance / CNBC, the TopApp Award in Ghana, and one of 30 Brilliant African Tech Startups by Ventureburn, along with another MEST company, Nandimobile.

Speaking of Nandimobile, its Head of Business Development, Edward Tagoe was invited to speak at TEDx Uganda and its CEO, Anne Amuzu was asked to be a panel member at the Women’s Forum in Paris. Anne, along with the founders of Saya, was also highlighted as one of the 20 Most Influential People of 2012 by Nigeria’s leading technology blog, TechLoy.

RetailTowera service helping online retailers list their stores on price comparison engines, was tapped by Big Commerce to build a customized API for their platform and was named one of Amazon’s Top 6 preferred partners.

Awards and accolades aside, the companies made real measureable progress throughout the year.

From its inception in July 2012 through the end of the year, AdsBrook signed up 120 advertisers and 96 publishers while serving 3 million impressions monthly. The company achieved revenue growth of roughly 13x times in just 5 months.

Retail Tower grew its number of users by an average of 20% month over month and Nevahold accumulated 15,000 shouts thanks in part to a complete overhaul of its website. FreelancePro, in private beta, achieved over 100% growth in users from September through November.

Dropifi garnered 1,690 active users in the two months since its beta unveiling and experienced 2,600 downloads of its WordPress plugin since launching last month. The company’s top 5 customer locations (US, UK, India, Canada and Australia) are now outside of Africa, making it one of the first truly global startups coming out of the MEST program.

Additionally, Saya, AdsBrook, and Dropifi have all expanded their teams to handle the growth of their companies.

Needless to say the companies ended the year strong, proving through solid performance that their recognition has been well deserved. 2012 ended with a lot of momentum and it seems the companies fully intend to continue the trend in 2013 as they hit the ground running after the New Year.

Many of the companies reached their January milestones by mid-month and there are some exciting developments already in the pipeline. Dropifi has been selected for the Europas Awards in the Best Business, Recruitment and Enterprise Startup category and was also in the running for the People’s Choice AwardClaimSync, an electronic medical claims processing solution, has been invited to the HealthXL Selection Day in London, which is an accelerator program for startups that are using disruptive technology to solve issues in healthcare; and FreelancePro is currently preparing to push out a new interface and valuable features for its customers.

Their intense focus and passion for offering game-changing solutions in Ghana and the global market, coupled with world class mentorship from the incubator and MEST have been key drivers behind their successes.

Looking ahead, I expect the Meltwater Incubator to play a significant role in creating jobs in the Ghanaian economy as well as in developing the story of entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa.

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