Seedstars is the world’s biggest startup competition in emerging markets. The Hague-based YAPILI competed in its local competition in Gaborone, Botswana, on 3 November – and won first prize. Congrats, YAPILI. They are now prepping to compete for the grand prize at the international Seedstars Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, in April next year. We checked in with YAPILI co-founder Sherzel Smith to share in the excitement.
“Competing in Seedstars was an excellent experience in many ways. Seedstars literally travels across the globe doing these pitch competitions, so it was great to feel a part of that network. It was also a nerve rush too, of course,” Sherzel explains. “We applied only twenty-four hours before the deadline, so we are pretty happy we made it to the top 10 and eventually won.”
“Of course we are very excited about winning the competition. Seedstars is one of the biggest startup competitions in the emerging markets, so winning is a great milestone and a great achievement and acknowledgement of the impact we are making,” she says.
Moving closer to end goals
“We enjoy being a part of the innovation community in Botswana, so we are all the more proud of the opportunity to represent Botswana in the Seedstars summit. We feel that YAPILI has value not only in Botswana, but also in the other markets in which we are live. We know that being able to expose YAPILI on an international stage is the next step to bringing Health at Hand for as many people as possible,” she adds.
“The atmosphere at Seedstars was a testament to the atmosphere in innovation in Botswana in general – everyone was supportive of each other and excited about the ideas and initiatives presented that evening. It was also nice to hear from other mhealth startups, who also pitched, to see how they are also contributing to improving health through technology.”
“Seedstars is one of the biggest startup competitions in the emerging markets, so winning is a great milestone and an acknowledgement of the impact we are making” – Sherzel Smith, co-founder at YAPILI
Next steps towards Seedstars Summit
“There will be over 65 competitors from startups in emerging markets all over the globe at the Seedstars Summit which will be held in Lausanne on April 12. In the week leading up to the summit, we will have the opportunity to be mentored, attend an investor forum, and lots of other exciting activities. There will also be a regional summit in December, which will be held in Maputo, Mozambique, for Seedstars winners from countries in Africa,” she elaborates on the next steps.
YAPILI has already gained a lot of attention in Botswana as a result of winning the competition. “Of course, while we are active in seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Botswana has always been one of our most exciting markets. We have garnered interest from many key players in innovation in the nation with whom we are working on partnerships for scaling our market,” Sherzel shares.
“Hopefully, we will win the grand prize next year in Switzerland,” Sherzel says. “But, regardless of whether we’ll win or not, the competition offers us an invaluable opportunity to meet other startups in emerging markets who can be potential partners, further hone YAPILI’s product under the mentorship of Seedstars, improve our pitching skills, and get exposed to investors who are interested in investing in emerging markets.”
“We are excited to be a nominee in this year’s The Hague Innovators Challenge, which will further deepen our involvement in ImpactCity” – Sherzel Smith, co-founder at YAPILI
YAPILI <3 ImpactCity
“Through ImpactCity, we received the seed investment that took us from idea to functioning product. We were able to build our team and create our functioning web app and Android application, and initiate our pilot to get to the approximately 1,000 users we have today,” Sherzel elaborates on YAPILI’s connection to the City of The Hague.
“We also attended lots of events hosted by ImpactCity within the past year-and-a-half. These events have helped us mature from the idea phase to where we are today in little over a year since we were established. We’re also really excited to be a nominee in the The Hague Innovators Challenge, which will further deepen our involvement in ImpactCity. The City of The Hague is indeed one of our many homes,” she adds.
Seedstars World is a Switzerland-based startup competition that takes place in emerging markets. It promotes, connects and invests up to $1 million in emerging market startups. “We run 65+ local competitions where we identify the best seed-stage startups, give them pitch training, and award the winners with an opportunity to compete in the Seedstars Summit where one of them will be crowned Seedstars World Global Winner,” the competition’s organizers explain.