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Bettr goes big at African TechCrunch startup battle

Bettr, the South African virtual banking platform set to launch in 2019, was one of 15 startups to pitch at Africa’s edition of TechCrunch Startup Battlefield in Lagos this week. And it came away with one of the top honours. 

Some of Africa’s most promising tech newcomers took to the stage to present their ideas in the hopes of winning the $25,000 equity-free cash prize, a trip for two to TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco 2019.

After the success of the 2017 event in Nairobi, Kenya, the Lagos event was the second TechCrunch Startup Battlefield to take place in Sub-Saharan Africa. This time around, the organisers reviewed hundreds of African startups to arrive at a list of 15 semi-finalists. With TechCrunch Startup Battlefield’s 2% acceptance rate, it was stated by one of the organisers that it is easier to get into Harvard.

“We came as a small team. The process was intense,” said Tobie Van Zyl, Chief Innovation Officer of Bettr. “The level of performance required to compete I’d compare to the training of an Olympic Athlete. Every company at this event deserved to win. They are world-class innovators solving real human problems. We came as competitors, and we have left with friends from 15 different countries, Lagos contacts and a community that wants to see us expand here next.”

Each company was given 6-minutes to pitch and share a live demo to a sold-out venue and panel of judges. Van Zyl delivered a presentation commenting on the shortcomings of the traditional banking industry and how Bettr will reinvent this ‘broken system’. Andrzej Stempowski, Chief Technical Officer, conducted a live demonstration, showcasing how an account can be opened using only a South African identification document. The full pitch, with more details about the soon-to-be-released product, can be watched on the TechCrunch website.

The resulted in Bettr being selected as one of the five finalists.

The startups delivered their same pitches a second time to a new panel of judges, followed by a thorough Q & A.

The final-round judges included Dapo Olagunju, head of West Africa JP Morgan, and Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, director of developer platforms and programs for Facebook. The winner was M-SCAN, a Ugandan based startup that has invented a mobile ultrasound that is portable and compatible with basic devices, including a mobile phone. Second place went to Bettr.

Bettr is a virtual banking platform powered by a smartphone and a transactional card. The startup is set to launch to the public in 2019.

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