“Ocorian has allowed us to work towards building global consumer brands that stem from Africa.” Ndubuisi Kejeh, Founding Partner at Mustard, tells us why their company was comfortable putting their trust in Ocorian – both from an account and a compliance point of view, in this insightful interview.
1. What does your company do?
Broadly speaking, at Mustard we refer to ourselves as a venture agency on a mission to build better products, better brands and better perceptions for Africa. We are currently engaging with our mission by working with founders and investors, to build what we think will be the first global consumer brands to stem from Africa.
To do this we set up an investment vehicle to enable us to build ventures from scratch with exceptional and influential founders. We work with these founders from the first idea (or ‘idea-stage’) before a company has even been registered, to ensure that our narrative-first building philosophy is baked in from the very start. When deciding what to create we are very much founder and story-led. We want to build ventures with vivid brands that tell genuinely moving stories to global audiences, and in doing so grow Africa’s influence internationally.
Building ventures is our primary focus, but we also function as an agency working with founder-led companies and initiatives to build and tell their brand narrative. By this we mean we capture their beliefs, philosophy and purpose, and coherently codify them through the messages, visual identities, campaigns and product experiences that we build for them.
2. What sectors do you work in?
On the venture side, we focus broadly on B2C software/applications, given we want to build global consumer brands, and it is in the consumer space where brand narratives are usually more impactful. However, counter to trends in the African VC space, we do not aim to build ventures that are heavily focused on the financial, agriculture or health related tech sectors.
On the narrative side, we’re open to working with any company founder who sees value in storytelling, and whose potential story we consider to be compelling.
3. What first led you to Ocorian?
I had already built a strong, years-long relationship with John Félicité, an Ocorian Director, and so he was the first person I reached out to for advice while considering our investment model.
From the first outreach until now, there has been no issue thrown that John or the Ocorian team have not been able to navigate and structure. Also, with the team being always free for a chat they have felt like an extension of our team.
Having an initial connection was so helpful because we received a service we might not have got elsewhere.
4. What were your overall goals?
We were led to Ocorian because we needed solid advice on what we were trying to build.
Firstly, the investment model we initially thought of, and which has since been built, is quite different to that of a typical fund or VC, particularly because – building from scratch – we require there to be financial flows and commitments before there is even a registered company for the idea.
Secondly, our model only required us to raise £4 million for our vehicle, which we came to understand was too small an amount to acquire a fund license.
Thirdly, as a first-time manager, I personally wanted a turnkey service with a company I could trust.
Overall, we needed a team that could take the time to understand our model and needs, and in response recommend and set up our vehicle, as well as hold our hand through the legal process.
With our model being ‘non-standard’ and it being our first rodeo, we wanted to work with experts who genuinely cared about our goals and could provide us with excellent KYC and due diligence.
5. Why did you choose Ocorian?
The level of professionalism and expertise I witnessed.
The team at Ocorian treated us as if we were a large firm and spent the time taking us through the process in a great amount of detail.
6. How did Ocorian help?
John really helped me to see the big picture of where I wanted Mustard to be, and then worked backwards with us to engineer how to get there.
After an initial introduction from John, we eventually got around the table with the Ocorian team to agree on a viable structure for our model.
Following the discussion, we agreed on a strategy that suited us and our investors. This allowed us to define an exit where the underlying assets can remain and be converted into fund assets in the future as we grow and continue to raise capital.
Once we decided to go forward with Ocorian, the onboarding team were brilliant and really helped us get set up. We also feel lucky to have such seasoned individuals as Rishikesh Batoosam and Vassudha Mungra as our directors, who have made themselves available to answer our questions from day one.
Overall, we’ve received a full turnkey service, from setting up relevant bank accounts to KYC and compliance.
7. How did Ocorian add value?
If it wasn't for Ocorian, we wouldn't have set up the vehicle. We were comfortable putting our trust in Ocorian, both from an account and a compliance point of view.
Ocorian has allowed us to work towards building global consumer brands that stem from Africa.
8. What have we been able to achieve working with Ocorian?
Working with Ocorian has allowed us to expand our offering from agency to venture agency. Without the investment vehicle, we would not have any legal or financial basis to take on and manage investors’ money and set up companies from scratch.
With the vehicle in place, we now have investors backing us who believe in our narrative-first, venture building philosophy. This enables us to work more aggressively towards our mission with investors and founders who share our belief. It also enables us to build – from the very start – ventures that have the potential to become global brands, and in doing so, change people’s perceptions of the African continent.