The MarketForce Story - Building the Operating System for Retail Distribution in Africa

September 8, 2023
Nkechi Oguchi

This week we caught up with Tesh Mabaabu, the founder and CEO of Marketforce. Marketforce has achieved remarkable growth while serving a vital user segment. Marketforce announced their $40m Series A earlier in the year. And even more interesting is that the Pariti pitch review tool predicted the fundraising likelihood for Marketforce months before they raised any funding.

Here’s our conversation with Tesh on his fundraising journey for Marketforce.

Tell us about you and Marketforce

My name is Tesh Mbaabu co-founder and CEO of Marketforce. I was born and raised in Kenya. Marketforce is building the super app for neighborhood merchants. What we realized was that a lot of these merchants were underserved. It’s very difficult for them to access inventory for their shops conveniently. So Marketforce provides them with technology to order inventory when they need it delivered in a few hours. Then based on their ordering patterns we are able to extend inventory financing. A lot of them are financially excluded as well. This has been helpful for them and has helped them to grow.

Tell us about your fundraising journey and the things you’ve learned or observed along the process

Our fundraising journey has been quite tough especially early on. We're solving such a large problem. Initially getting investors to believe our team, which was a very young team, majorly Kenyan, and solving a very big problem was actually possible. But we were able to show well enough traction to get pre-seed funding and then got into YCombinator which helped accelerated our fundraising by providing a network of global investors. That set up a good momentum for us because we were able to show initial traction and then we were able to go on and raise seed and Series A.

Behind the scenes, Tesh cited how difficult it was as a team of predominantly Kenyans to attract Global investors because of the bias in funding when it comes to founder backgrounds, race, and age. He felt all these factors put them at a disadvantage. 

Why did you decide to use Pariti’s pitch review tool?

As a founder, it’s important to be resourceful. We felt that we needed as much feedback as we could get from reliable sources. We wanted to create a killer pitch deck and fundraising material. We came across Pariti’s pitch review tool and we saw it as a way to get actionable feedback on how we could improve our case for fundraising and even build a better business. Pariti’s pitch review tool was super helpful with that.

What advice would you give founders who are currently fundraising that you wished you had when you started fundraising?

It’s crucial to build a network of supporters around your business. Just like raising a baby, building a company requires great support from investors, your team, and even tools like Pariti’s pitch review tool. 

Get on Grove and close your fundraise

We’ve spent the last 2years learning and supporting founders on their journey. The insights and data gathered from doing that led us to create Grove, a venture marketplace where founders can connect with active investors on the continent and investors can access quality deal flow.

If you are currently fundraising, get on Grove today!