EatOut Kenya CEO Mikul Shah has been appointed advisor to Safaricom Spark Venture Fund. Mikul, who is also the co-founder of the accommodation portal SleepOut, is revered in the start-up circles having founded EatOut four years ago with a staff of one and growing it to the leading online restaurant guide in Kenya and beyond. In his capacity, Mikul will advise the team in Nairobi on new investments by way of giving reference checks for individuals or entities which the Fund intends to transact with, advice on deals for the Fund as well as provide mentorship or sit on the Board of one or more Investees. The Ksh 90 million fund is managed by TBL who have the obligation of providing equity, hands on involvement, mentorship and technical assistance from and exposure to Safaricom. The venture capital fund targets Kenyan post revenue mobile technology start-ups and seeks to give techpreneurs access to the much needed financing, mentoring and access to resources.
Safaricom Spark Fund is an equity fund or debt instrument, not a grant. Entrepreneurs after applying and qualifying will get access to the fund either in form of equity investment, convertible debt or debt that can be refunded that will allow the entrepreneur access much needed finance to develop. Start-ups are eligible to receive amounts between USD 75,000 and USD 250,000 in the fund for an initial 2 year period, upon which evaluation of success will be made and demand from start-ups will see the Safaricom board avail more funds in the future. To qualify for the fund, start-ups must have a working product or service with an active user base that demonstrate their ability to create transformative solutions, be based within Kenya, provide a use case demonstrating local market potential, have an identified market segment and have adequate talent to see the project through its goals. The start-ups will, under the program access marketing tools from Safaricom as an investor and other resources like M-PESA, API, USSD, Bulk SMS and Safaricom cloud hosting. Administration of the finance will be done by TBL Invest which is Safaricom advisor for this project.
Mikul has previously worked with Safaricom when the mobile technology giant partnered with EatOut to launch Lipa Na Mpesa for restaurants. The company has received several awards including CIO 100 Runner UP 2011, Vision 2030 ICT Innovation for Tourism 2011, Pivot East 25 Finalist 2011, Tandaa World Bank/Kenya ICT Board Grant Winner 2012 as well as Kenya Tourism Award for Digital Media 2012. Mikul is also the co-founder of Mauritius based accommodation market place SleepOut.com that was voted by CNN as one of the top African startups in 2014.