What does Instadeep's exit actually mean for the African startup ecosystem?
The Tunisian-bred, London-based AI startup was recently acquired for $682M. What are the tangible implications of such a move?
Instadeep isn’t just any African startup success story. It is undeniably Africa’s most important startup success story to date. Two African co-founders, offices in 3 African countries, and more importantly, a global reach in one of the world’s most advanced sectors, artificial intelligence. The company’s significance belongs to a different category than other African giants, such as Jumia (whose founders are European) or Paystack (who is building solely for Africa). In the African startup ecosystem context, Instadeep is this decade’s most momentous paradigm shifter.
I took a few months following the exit’s announcements to truly reflect on what it meant. LinkedIn was full of posts incensing the outsized impact Instadeep would have on the African tech scene going forward. As always, the devil is in the details. This piece will dive deep into why Instadeep succeeded in the first place, while also analyzing what it will and what it will not change for Tunisian and African startups going forward.
“2 laptops and $2,000”
This is the origin story Instadeep’s founders like to put forward when talking about their company. Founded in 2014 in Tataouine, a Tunisian town bordering the desert that once served as the set for “Star Wars”, Instadeep is the brainchild of two people, Karim Beguir and Zohra Slim.