South African Tech Company Wins $1.5M Investment Prize In U.S. Startup Challenge

Written by Peter Pedroncelli
South African tech firm Pineapple scored a $1.5 million investment after impressing in a U.S. startup challenge with its innovative insurance platform. The Pineapple team poses for a photo. Image supplied by Pineapple

South African insurance technology startup Pineapple, a graduate of Google Launchpad Accelerator Africa, has won a $1.5 million investment prize in the U.S. 

Pineapple’s machine learning technology allows users to insure individual items such as jewelry, electronic devices and bicycles using a mobile app. Users simply take photos of items and upload them to the app. 

Pineapple scored the investment after impressing judges with its innovative insurance platform, winning the $1.5 million first prize in the VentureClash global venture challenge for early-stage startups, according to Techawk.

With a total prize pool of $5 million, the VentureClash challenge is run and funded by U.S.-based venture capital and private equity firm Connecticut Innovations

Pineapple was founded in 2017 by Matthew Elan Smith, Ndabenhle Ngulube and Marnus van Heerden. It was chosen to take part in Google’s Launchpad Accelerator Africa program in 2018

The South African company has offices in Johannesburg and Hartford in Connecticut. Pineapple opened the office in Hartford after being selected to be part of an accelerator program based in the city called the Hartford Insurtech Hub, run by Startupbootcamp.

Pineapple’s next objective is to partner with an insurance firm in the U.S. and they are in late-stage discussions with companies about rolling out Pineapple’s insurance offering in the U.S., according to NSInsurance.

Only African firm in startup challenge

Pineapple was the only African startup among the final 10 contenders in the VentureClash global venture challenge. The other startups were from the U.S., Canada and Israel, Techawk reports.

In addition to the investment from Connecticut Innovations, Pineapple is expected to benefit from introductions to a network of potential customers, investors and mentors as the winning startup.

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The $1.5 million funding represents Pineapple’s second and largest investment to date.

In 2017, Pineapple received an investment of around $350,000 from Lireas Holdings, the strategic investment arm of reinsurance firm Hannover-Re Group Africa, according to BusinessTech.