Financial institution Standard Bank has attributed the success of its recent direct minority equity investment into technology-enabled logistics solution Tripplo to its ability as a large, established corporate to work effectively with small, agile start-ups.
The bank says this is the key to unlocking value chains, particularly among tech start-ups.
Standard Bank says big corporations partnering with start-ups was an untested and undeveloped space, with few models having been developed to date and few examples of successful collaborations.
The success of the investment Tripplo “highlights the power of both Standard Bank’s future-ready strategy, as well as its ecosystems approach in building and managing successful partnerships with start-ups,” Standard Bank Moonshots innovation division Founders Factory Partnership head Sacheen Kala says.
The Moonshots division was established in 2017 and was tasked with starting new products or businesses that drive growth and create jobs across Africa, while also generating material new revenue streams for the bank.
The Moonshots team develops ideas and sometimes also partners with innovative local and international businesses to deliver improved client solutions.
To this end, Standard Bank entered into a relationship with tech business accelerator Founders Factory Africa (FFA), a venture development company that designs, builds and scales tech-enabled businesses across Africa.
Recognising the challenges of intra-African logistics and trade, Tripplo was started in 2018 by Victor Chaitezvi who sought a reimagining of the movement of African cargo by building a digital platform that enabled real-time road freight cargo booking integration and management across the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
“Chaitezvi effectively transformed the regions’ long-established manually operated cargo logistics industry, in just three months,” Moonshots head Darren Segal says. The Tripplo platform also proved useful for the domestic logistics sector during Covid-19 lockdowns.
Kala says the partnership shows how a large platform organisation can deploy technology to leverage its own value chains for growth, while working successfully with comparatively small independent start-ups.
Standard Bank says its work with FFA, and Tripplo in particular, had informed the development of a two-stage corporate/start-up cooperation model.
In the first stage, the FFA tech incubator partnership would enable access through the identification and development of concepts, including how the bank could deploy its networks and abilities to solve for the start-up.
The second or venture-led stage integrated the bank’s ability and networks to co-build the business with the start-up partner.
Standard Bank says this model has allowed the bank to support entrepreneurship and grow new businesses, “while gaining insight into the growth cycle of tech start-ups and highlighting opportunities to deploy the bank’s own networks to unlock and participate in this growth”.
“Since the partnership also involves direct investment, the bank receives an additional return on investment commensurate with the success of the venture supported,” Kala adds.
Tripplo currently operates a digital logistics platform that facilitates the movement of road freight cargo across SADC, providing compliant transporters access to credible cargo owners and cargo brokers.
The platform enables clients to manage all transporter company documents, provides detailed kilometre-by-kilometre trip itineraries for trucks moving goods on any SADC route, while housing detailed information of trucks, trailers and drivers in one place to assist with licence, permit and fee compliance.
Standard Bank’s involvement also allowed it to extend some of the benefits of its ecosystem to the Tripplo platform, such as Truck Fuel Net and Instant Money.
The bank also provided Tripplo with foreign exchange rates, credit, and goods in transit insurance services. In addition, Tripplo gained access to Standard Bank clients needing transport solutions, with the bank in turn “offering Tripplo as a service to our own business banking clients as well as other entrepreneurs in our enterprise segment,” Kala points out.
By optimising and automating operations for small transporters across both its own and Standard Bank’s platforms, Tripplo increases profitability for cargo owners, cargo brokers and transporters.
This will also extend “Standard Bank’s own digital capability to a previously largely manually managed industry”, Kala says.
Standard Bank says its Tripplo investment shows how far its ecosystem approach has migrated away from traditional financial services thinking.
“Working with FFA has developed a more venture approach to start-ups, broadening thinking on what a bank is, what a bank can do and how a bank can relate to and integrate its abilities with start-ups,” Segal says.