IntellaSphere launches "Rise Above It" Program to help Small Businesses

Cision PR Newswire | August 21, 2020

Today IntellaSphere, the leading Collaborative Marketing Platform and Business Marketing Cooperative provider, announced the launch of its Rise Above It program, to help small businesses rebuild sales. The coronavirus pandemic has profoundly impacted lives, communities, and businesses and has hit small businesses particularly hard. Businesses are struggling to cut costs, keep existing customers, and find new customers online to rebuild sales in the wake of COVID-19. Designed specifically to help small businesses work together to leverage their combined marketing clout, IntellaSphere's Marketing Cooperative makes it easier to build brand awareness, sales, and loyalty.

Spotlight

South Africa’s funding scene is cagey. It’s really hard to find concrete information, but it’s no surprise really, considering all the non-disclosure agreements. Silicon Cape has been running a survey in an effort to unlock some funding information which it hopes will enlighten the country’s tech startup community.


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FINANCE

OPay and Mastercard announce strategic partnership to grow cashless ecosystem and advance digital financial inclusion for millions

OPay & Mastercard | May 19, 2022

Fintech giant OPay and Mastercard today announced a strategic partnership, which marks a significant boost for wider financial inclusion and economic prosperity by opening up digital commerce to millions of people across Middle East and Africa. The collaboration enables OPay consumers and merchants in the region - including Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa and the UAE - to engage with brands and businesses anywhere across the globe, thanks to a Mastercard virtual payment solution linked to the OPay eWallet. This partnership is the latest milestone in Mastercard's emerging market strategy where the technology company is collaborating with growing Fintech's such as OPay to expand access to digital payments, enable multiple lifestyle services, create new pathways to financial inclusion and support the next generation of super-apps. Consumers are increasingly looking for seamless user experiences on a single platform offering easier interactions to complete various day-to-day needs, including sending and receiving money, ordering food and groceries, organizing transport, lending, investing and listing items they wish to sell. In the initial phase of this partnership, OPay customers will benefit from the Mastercard virtual payment solution linked to their OPay wallets, to shop at well-known global brands for leisure, travel, accommodation, entertainment, streaming services and more. The service is available regardless of whether or not the customer has a bank account. It also allows small business owners to purchase from suppliers abroad and pay with the secure virtual payment solution. "At Mastercard, our innovation strategy is rooted in partnerships to support inclusion at scale. Our partnership with OPay demonstrates our commitment to supporting payments providers across the world to create an interconnected global payments ecosystem that benefits an array of consumers with unique needs." -Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President for Market Development, Mastercard EEMEA Yahui Zhou, CEO of OPay,said: As the leading fintech in the Middle East and Africa, we are delighted to be partnering with Mastercard as we continue on our journey to promote financial inclusion, helping to open up the global economy to more consumers and businesses across Middle East and Africa. Since its operations started in 2018, OPay's active users have grown to 15 million in dozens of markets in which it operates. The company processes millions of transactions per day on average. In Nigeria alone, where OPay takes significant market share, users have saved billions of US dollars in the last four years through credit-linked savings accounts from their mobile wallets and small loans from lenders that use its platform. Plans are in place to launch OPay services in other markets in the next three to five years, significantly driving the growth of digital inclusion and digital commerce, while at the same time widening OPay customer inclusion into the global economy. Mastercard has made a worldwide commitment to financial inclusion, pledging to bring 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses – with a focus on 25 million women entrepreneurs – into the digital economy by 2025. About OPay: OPay is a fast-growing mobile payment fintech company. OPay has achieved significant growth in the past three years and has become one of the largest fintech companies in Africa and Middle East with a decent market share in key markets including Nigeria, Egypt, and Pakistan among others. OPay offers bespoke services to different clients in order to suit their needs; some of these services include offline payment, online payment, digital wallet service through AI and other fintech innovations. OPay boasts over 15 million registered wallet users, 600,000 merchants nationwide and surpassed $6 billion in monthly transaction value. About Mastercard Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

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TECHNOLOGY

Aryaka Launches Accelerate Global Partner Program

Aryaka | January 28, 2022

Aryaka®, the leader in fully managed SD-WAN and SASE, announced today the launch of its Accelerate Global Partner Program, which unifies the company’s partner-led go-to-market strategy under a single comprehensive program for channel partners of all types worldwide. The new program empowers them to tap into an expanded revenue opportunity made possible by Aryaka’s new all-in-one SD-WAN and secure access service edge (SASE) solutions packaged and priced for businesses of all sizes. “Strong channel partnerships have been part of Aryaka’s success from day one. With the launch of the Aryaka Accelerate Global Partner Program, we’re putting a stake in the ground as a partner-led organization with the breakthrough solutions, simplified packaging and go-to-market alignment they need to seize the rising revenue opportunity in secure cloud-first networks and fast-track their business growth.” Ian McEwan, chief revenue officer at Aryaka The global launch builds on the November 1, 2021, introduction of the Aryaka Accelerate Agent Partner Program for commission-based sales agents and technology services brokerages (TSBs) by extending benefits tailored to match partner business strategies across North America; Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EMEA); and Asia-Pacific (APAC). These include margin-based value-added resellers (VARs), managed services providers (MSPs) and IT distributors; white-label service providers and systems integrators (SIs); and IT marketplaces and strategic alliances. The Aryaka Accelerate Global Partner Program begins with a top-down commitment to the channel that has enabled innovations and resources with partners in mind, including: Expanded Channel Team – Aryaka has added highly experienced channel specialists to its team, including new leaders Craig Patterson, channel chief and vice president of sales – Americas, and Ed Pearce, national channel director – North America. They join Rich Farbman, regional vice president – Americas, and Lisette Sens, vice president of channel sales – International. Increased Total Addressable Market (TAM) – Aryaka’s new all-in-one SD-WAN and SASE services are based on the company’s new, industry-leading FlexCore™ technology that combines Layer 2 and 3 networking, enabling partners to deliver services optimized for performance or cost. This flexibility also expands the total addressable market for Aryaka’s services to include businesses of all sizes – from global enterprises to regional small and medium businesses (SMBs). Simplified Packaging and Pricing – Aryaka’s new SmartConnect EZ + SmartConnect Pro and Prime EZ solutions are easy to quote, sell and consume with “T-shirt” sized pricing and standard service tiers, speeding time to revenue for partners. New Co-managed Network Option – Aryaka’s new AppAssure™ application enables VAR, MSP and white-label partners with the network visibility required to co-manage their clients’ networks, increasing their value and wallet share. Last-Mile Services Revenue – Uniquely, Aryaka can offer its network-as-a-service solution with the last-mile connections included, offering partners an additional revenue opportunity. Training and Certification – Aryaka has a self-paced, online training program for sales and technical competencies. An updated certification program for the new solutions will be rolled out in 2022. Sales and Marketing Alignment – As a channel-led company, Aryaka works in lockstep with partners to align and enable sales and marketing activities, such as strategic account mapping, marketing resources, co-investment in co-marketing and co-selling, and all-new account-based sales and marketing programs to generate leads for qualified partners. Lucrative Incentives – Aryaka offers a range of sales incentives tailored to partner types, such as commission multipliers and increased margin opportunities. Customer Success – In addition to two levels of expert support, Aryaka provides customer success managers (CSMs) devoted to retaining and growing partners’ accounts. “Aryaka has made good on its promises to invest in a partner-led strategy by introducing SD-WAN and SASE solutions that are easy for partners to sell,” said Craig Patterson, channel chief and vice president of sales – Americas. “With the launch of the Aryaka Accelerate Global Partner Program, we’re now wrapping that with alignment, enablement, incentives and support resources to drive success for agents, VARs and MSPs worldwide.” "Aryaka's success in EMEA and APAC has always been driven by a mutually beneficial, partner-led approach,” Lisette Sens, vice president of channel sales – International. “We're delighted to continue the great work we've done in EMEA and APAC by extending the Aryaka Accelerate Global Partner Program to supplement our all-in-one SD-WAN and SASE offerings with additional investment into training, alignment and incentives."

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BUSINESS STRATEGY

Vejii Announces Definitive Purchase Agreement to Acquire VEDGEco USA Inc., a leading online B2B wholesale platform for plant-based products

Vejii Holdings Inc. | December 24, 2021

Vejii Holdings Ltd. ("Vejii" or the "Company"), a North American online marketplace for plant-based and sustainable products, is pleased to announce that it has entered into a share purchase agreement (the "Purchase Agreement") to acquire VEDGEco USA Inc. ("VEDGEco"), a leading online business-to-business ("B2B") wholesale platform for plant-based products. "VEDGEco launched as one of the first online wholesale platforms dedicated to providing restaurants and independent grocers with a large selection of high-quality plant-based options. This meant that small business owners could at last gain access to a large selection of plant-based products and ingredients without the requirements that typical larger national distributors have in place, such as large minimum order sizes." Kory Zelickson, CEO of Vejii Pursuant to the terms of the Purchase Agreement, the Company will acquire 100% of the issued and outstanding shares (the "Purchased Shares") of VEDGEco (the "Transaction") from the shareholders of VEDGEco (the "Vendors"). The total purchase price for the Purchased Shares will be US$6,250,000, payable as follows: (a) on the date of the closing of the Transaction (the "Closing"), the Company will issue such number of common shares of the Company (each, a "Common Share") with a deemed value of $3,500,000 (the "Consideration Shares") to the Vendors, as determined based on a price per Consideration Share of the greater of (i) C$0.35 per Consideration Share and (ii) the closing price of the Common Shares on the Canadian Securities Exchange on the date immediately preceding the announcement by the Company of the Transaction, converted into United States dollars at the Bank of Canada exchange rate on such date; and (b) earn-out payments up to a maximum of US$2,750,000, payable in Common Shares (the "Earn-Out Shares"), priced in the context of the market, to be issued to the Vendors upon VEDGEco meeting certain milestones as more particularly set out in the Purchase Agreement. The Consideration Shares and the Earn-Out Shares issued under the Purchase Agreement are subject to a statutory hold period of four months and one day, restrictions on transfer under applicable United States ("U.S.") securities laws and a contractual lock-up as set out in the Purchase Agreement (the "Voluntary Lock Up"). Subject to compliance with applicable securities laws, 12.5% of the Consideration Shares and the Earn-Out Shares will be released from the Voluntary Lock Up on a quarterly basis for a period of 24 months from the date of issuance. VEDGEco's key personnel are expected to continue to run the operations of VEDGEco following closing of the Transaction. The Transaction is expected to close on or around December 31, 2021. Closing of the Transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. The Transaction will significantly augment Vejii's offering of plant-based brands, which have, to date, through ShopVejii.com and VeganEssentials.com, leveraged Vejii's platform for sales, marketing and order fulfillment and distribution across the U.S. and Canada via Vejii Fulfillment Services. "We heard consistently from the brands that we serve that they were seeking to make the leap from e-commerce, to grocery and foodservice distribution. This could mean shipping samples, managing broker relationships, or gaining access to those restaurants and grocers not served by the larger wholesalers," added Zelickson. "We already work with our brand partners on a business-to-consumer ("B2C") strategy through our marketplace, but now we can also help our brand partners get access to distribution in local restaurants and grocers, expanding Vejii's capabilities from just B2C to also include B2B and food service." "I built VEDGEco out of a necessity, given the limited plant-based options available in the small and local grocers and restaurants where I live in Kailua, Hawaii," said Trevor Hitch, CEO of VEDGEco. "Most of us are likely to have our first experience trying new plant-based products at a restaurant before purchasing those items to enjoy at home. With VEDGEco, our mission is to make plant-based options more broadly available by making them accessible to thousands of local restaurants across America. This access gives owners the ability to test products on their menu through our easy-to-use platform, without the need for long-term commitments or high, minimum order volumes. Owners can then see what works for their customer base and then return to re-order or test new options." The Transaction is expected to drive synergies across purchasing, customer service, technology, and logistics for Vejii and VEDGEco. Vejii will also be able to leverage VEDGEco's existing facilities in Hawaii, Northern California and Georgia, while providing VEDGEco with access to its facilities in Texas, Wisconsin, and its soon-to-be operational third-party logistics operation in Southern California. "The acquisition of VEDGEco will allow us to add a new revenue stream while increasing our buying power and margins with large brands, and also adding tremendous value for the brands on our platform. As restaurants and grocers expand their plant-based offerings, we will be strategically positioned to serve them while helping plant-based brands scale their businesses by offering those brands access to national distribution through the VEDGEco wholesale platform." Darren Gill, COO of Vejii In addition to providing VEDGEco's existing offering of wholesale plant-based products, Vejii will now have the ability to significantly expand VEDGEco's product selection by leveraging its existing case-lot purchasing and expanding the range of products on its platform through VEDGEco. VEDGEco operates its distribution centers from Hawaii and California, which will further expand Vejii's distribution network, reducing shipping costs and expanding the Company's offering of regionalized same-day delivery. About VEDGEco USA Inc. Headquartered in Kailua Hawaii, and launched in 2020 VEDGEco, the first nationwide plant-based foodservice distributor, helps restaurants go vegan by offering a selection of uncompromisingly delicious plant-based options that are easy to prepare. With a goal of bringing the freedom of food choice to all restaurants and businesses, VEDGEco distributes plant-based products in bulk to the restaurant and wholesale food industry, as well as to consumers across the U.S. Carrying a carefully curated selection of the best plant-based meat, dairy, and egg alternatives, VEDGEco ships frozen and in recyclable and compostable packaging to reduce our carbon footprint. About Vejii Holdings Inc. Headquartered in Kelowna B.C, Vejii is a unified digital marketplace and fulfillment platform featuring thousands of plant-based and sustainable-living products from a growing list of hundreds of vendors. The platform offers an easy-to-use, omnichannel experience for both vendors and buyers, leveraging big data and artificial intelligence to elegantly connect brands with a targeted consumer base, both organically and through specialized marketing programs. Dynamic fulfillment services empower brands to offer tier-one service, with ongoing engagement being driven through features like smart lists, subscription programs, reordering functions, sampling programs, and more. The Company also owns and operates U.S.-based Veg Essentials LLC ("Vegan Essentials"), which operates VeganEssentials.com. A staple of the plant-based community, Vegan Essentials was established in 1997 and contributes more than 20 years of consumer insight, data, and buying power. VeganEssentials.com was awarded best online vegan store from 2005-2018, as well as best online vegan grocer from 2018-2021 by VegNews Magazine.

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BUSINESS STRATEGY

Amber Solutions Closes 2020 With Series B Funding Totaling More Than $8.5 Million

Amber Solutions | January 25, 2021

Company's advances in technology, patent portfolio, industry awards and partner discussions drive increased investor interest. DUBLIN, CALIFORNIA , Jan 25, 2021 - (ACN Newswire) - Amber Solutions, the young Silicon Valley company that is making the digital control of electricity in solid-state architecture a commercial reality, today announced that its 2020 series B funding round raised more than $8.5 million from new and existing investors, following a successful year of secured patents, partner discussions and multiple industry award wins. According to Amber Founder and CEO Thar Casey, the company's progress in 2020 is all the more remarkable given the challenges posed to the business by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns that prevented most, if not all, in person product demonstrations. "2020 presented a challenging business climate, but our commitment to revolutionize the world's building electrical infrastructure helped Amber enter 2021 with increased investment, new patents, as well as multiple industry award wins and nominations," Casey said. "Amber's progress is a sign of the accelerating demand from major electrical product manufacturers for solid-state electrification technologies and its ability to completely disrupt and transform the enormous global market for electrical products and services." In addition to securing patents related to a digital AC/DC Enabler, an AC switch, a digital method to sense ground faults, and super-efficient LED light fixtures in 2020, Amber started 2021 as a BIG Innovations 2021 Award winner, a CES 2021 Innovations Award honoree, and is currently a 2021 Edison Award nominee. Amber's core innovation is a programmable solid-state power system that has a clear path to an even-smaller silicon chip version. Amber's system controls the flow of electricity digitally, enabling unique integration of modern intelligence into building electrical products and infrastructure. The solution introduces the world to a much safer, more reliable and dramatically smarter alternative to the 1970's era electro-mechanical components that are used in nearly all modern electrical infrastructure products. "Amber's patents and innovations are rapidly driving demand for the development of intelligent solid-state based products including two-wire dimmer switches, ultra-efficient commercial LED light fixtures, smart light switches, smart outlets, smart circuit breakers, and more," Casey added. "Based on heightened industry interest, growing investments and ever-increasing energy efficiency goals around the globe, we believe 2021 will be the year solid-state electrification moves from validation to commercialization and mainstream productization." About Amber Solutions Amber Solutions is a leading developer of patented, innovative solid-state technologies for the digital control of electricity. The company's disruptive breakthroughs change the electrical landscape forever for buildings and appliances world-wide. These technologies upgrade power management from 1950's era electro-mechanical to safer, more reliable solid-state architecture with embedded intelligence. Based in Dublin, California, the company is leveraging the expertise of Silicon Valley professionals to deliver a disruptive enhancement to the value and functionality of the world's electrical endpoints and infrastructure. For more information visit www.ambersi.com.

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Spotlight

South Africa’s funding scene is cagey. It’s really hard to find concrete information, but it’s no surprise really, considering all the non-disclosure agreements. Silicon Cape has been running a survey in an effort to unlock some funding information which it hopes will enlighten the country’s tech startup community.

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