Local VC HAVAÍC invests in US software firm Sortd

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga
Johannesburg, 30 Jul 2019
Sortd founders Rodney Kuhn and Wayne Silbermann.
Sortd founders Rodney Kuhn and Wayne Silbermann.

Cape Town-based venture capital (VC) firm HAVAÍC has invested an undisclosed amount of early stage funding into US-based e-mail productivity software firm Sortd.

Developed by South African entrepreneurs Rodney Kuhn, Wayne Silbermann and Bradley Greathead, Sortd offers a subscription-based productivity suite for users of Google’s business offering, Gmail and GSuite.

The company provides small and medium enterprises with a simple way to manage sales and customer projects inside their e-mail, with no need for multiple third-party applications.

Gmail is responsible for more than a quarter of all e-mails worldwide.

With the newly released Gmail App Store, and as Gmail increases its business market share globally, Sortd says its full suite of products is well-positioned to win over some of the existing few billion Gmail users and capture new ones.

Great validation

The founders will be supported by Jonathan Smith, a successful South African tech entrepreneur who is now based in Silicon Valley, as a non-executive director.

“It’s wonderful to have someone of Jonathan’s calibre and experience in our team. It’s a great validation for where we believe we can take the business,” says Rodney Kuhn, Sortd’s chief of product.

“The funds will be used to grow the team so that we can scale our development efforts, mostly focused on making the product stickier with customers and referral within teams. We also plan on improving the mobile experience; marketing, and tying up strong distribution channels to support consistent growth.”

Sortd’s suite of products consists of e-mail applications for professionals, sales and client services, and for projects and finance purposes that can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store and provide an immersive experience with Sortd's features inside e-mail.

The company also has an add-on application that provides functionality within the Gmail mobile app itself, and a standalone mobile app for iOS and Android.

“Outlook integration is in the pipeline but there's still a fair amount of foundational work to be done before we tackle that,” adds Kuhn.

HAVAÍC is an established investment and advisory firm that specialises in early-stage, high-growth technology businesses with proven concepts and global prospects. The company also provides corporate advisory and capital-raising services to emerging, internationally scalable businesses.

“We’ve been watching and working with the Sortd team for quite a while now to get them in the best position for their international success,” notes Rob Heath, HAVAÍC partner and Sortd board member.

“Like many successful entrepreneurs that have gone before them, we believe the Sortd team will once again show South Africans can succeed in the global technology marketplace.”

Local developers

While Sortd does not have offices in SA, the company works hand-in-hand with a team of Johannesburg-based developers.

Sortd says it will continue to have most of the development work undertaken in SA and receive local operational support from HAVAÍC.

This will provide opportunities for local developers to be a part of a truly international VC-backed business.

HAVAÍC advisor and Sortd board member Amir Padovitz comments: “Sortd provides a unique tool for businesses and professionals to accomplish involved tasks without context-switching across applications, increasing productivity and simplifying task management. This is the direction that enterprise productivity as a whole is gradually moving to and where Sortd is well-positioned to succeed.”

Padovitz is also a senior manager with Google and a successful tech entrepreneur.

“The journey with HAVAÍC has been both challenging and very rewarding. They have added some really important perspectives to our thinking from an investment standpoint, and we are very happy with where we’ve gotten to date,” says Sortd co-founder Wayne Silbermann.

HAVAÍC previously invested in various local businesses, including property firm Instant Property, safety start-up Aura and health mobile app Vula Mobile.