Our Process

We designed a pre-seed process that works for Africa

Get to know us and apply.

We believe in the power of a founder-focused community. Alongside an open application, we leverage our scout network, made up of the best fintech founders in Africa, to refer and evaluate potential companies. After all, some of the best insights come from those who have successfully built businesses over several years in markets we invest in. Regardless of how we get to know you we’ll introduce you to the rest of our community of fintech builders, investors, and advisors.

Scout Referral

Our scouts are the best fintech founders in Africa. They help source and support teams in our portfolio, but they aren’t just advisors. We expect them to become angels in the companies they champion.

Open Application

We also field applicants through an open process with the belief that the thinking and determination that will usher in the next generation of fintech on the continent can and should come from anywhere. Sign up to be alerted by email once applications are open.

We’ll make an initial investment and prepare you for our bootcamp.

Our first check is $10,000 for 2.5% of your company 

Alongside the cash, we start you off on a path to prepare for our fintech bootcamp that kicks off a month after we invest. The bootcamp is a one week design sprint in a prototyping environment supported by our network of mentors.

Before the bootcamp, we’ll work with your team to make sure that you get the most out of it. You’ll also meet the rest of your cohort during the week and build long-lasting friendships with your peers.

Let’s build at the bootcamp together.

Our bootcamp week is structured as both a hands-on prototyping cycle and a strategy review. The days are oriented around a design sprint while the nights offer office hours with mentors.

By the end of the week, you’ll have pushed your product forward, tested it with customers, incorporated guidance from several mentors, and be introduced to the community that is your DFS Lab cohort.

Refine your strategy. We’ll lead your $100K pre-seed round.

Pre-seed is hard, especially in Africa. We know it takes African startup an average of 180 days to raise pre-seed. We’ll cut that timeline in half by ensuring that you come out of our bootcamp with strategic clarity on your fundraise and by leading your pre-seed round with a DFS Lab investment.

Each of our startups aim to raise approximately $100K between DFS Lab and other co-investors. We think that’s a good amount to build traction in your initial market and prove that your startup is worth larger bets.

We offer two ways for investors to get involved at pre-seed

DFS Lab Cohort SPV: Invest in the whole cohort at once with a zero carry SPV that buys standardized post-money SAFEs equally into each startup in the cohort. Investors only cover transaction costs and are automatically invited to our Silicon Valley event.

Direct: Invest directly into any of our cohort teams through SAFEs at individually negotiated caps.

Build traction in your market. We’ll help raise your seed round.

Your cohort will spend close to 6 months building, pivoting, and finding traction. DFS Lab will provide you day-to-day support, including perks like cloud credits and access to legal and PR help. We’ll communicate your updates when ready and help you start to build relationships with the best seed investors in the world. Some of our startups have gone through YC during this step.

At the tail end, we’ll gather in Silicon Valley so you can meet some of these investors in person. Our companies aim to raise $1-2 million for their seed rounds through a mix of diverse investors that can bring experienced guidance alongside capital.

A few of our teams who have proved the process