SwiftVee is a South African agricultural trading platform that first went live in 2019. It recently received $1.5 million investment from Subtropico Ltd, an investment company with a focus on the agricultural services sector and related value chain. Founder Russel Luck (35) answers our questions.
1. Give us your elevator pitch.
SwiftVee is an agri-tech livestock trading platform. It uses artificial intelligence technology to match buyers and sellers in real-time to optimise sales levels from anywhere in the world. Through the data gathered via online auctions, SwiftVee creates credit risk profiles and customer-use profiles which are used by the financial services industry to gain granular customer insights. SwiftVee aspires to become the Amazon of livestock trading and the Bloomberg of agricultural data.
2. How did you finance your startup?
A blend of government seed funding with a follow-on investment round by a consortium of tech investors for series A.
3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?
We have identified extremely high demand in other African countries, the UK and the US. We would invest money into product developers and engineers to scale and maintain excellent products. We would also invest in account managers and back-office support to maintain top levels of service throughout our expansion.
4. What risks does your business face?
Our only risks are macro-economic challenges experienced by all entrepreneurs across the continent. Issues like currency devaluations, corruption and mismanagement of public resources, lack of stable electricity and internet, all pose a risk to scaling a world-class company. However, African businesses breed resilience and creativity and we wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else in the world. The time and opportunity for innovation in Africa is now.
5. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
Becoming the biggest online livestock trading platform was a special moment in our business trajectory. However, raising over $2.5 million was an exciting moment as it signalled to South Africa that SwiftVee has arrived.
6. Tell us about your biggest mistake, and what you’ve learnt from it.
We haven’t made a mistake in this regard, but the biggest lesson is to believe in the people you work with. The more time you spend selecting a strong team and creating a culture of excellence, the better your company will do in the market.
7. In addition to your own company, name one untapped business opportunity in Africa.
The agri sector is replete with valuable data that is currently under-utilised. Readily available data can be used to create products such as farm-to-fork reporting, credit scores and risk analysis reporting. The data can also be used to forecast optimal times to farm.