SOUTH AFRICA – Contro, a telehealth startup that focuses on sexual health and confidence treatment services, has announced the close of an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round, raising a total of ZAR10.1 million (US$585,000).

The funding provides Contro with the capital to further develop its platform and expand its services, as well as grow its team, with the goal of facilitating targeted growth across South Africa.

30% of Contro’s customers are from South Africa’s townships and rural areas. Contro intends to build on its current momentum in those markets and beyond.

The funds were raised from four international and local VCs, namely Plug & Play, iCubed Capital, WZ Capital and the Jozi Angels Network, as well as prominent local and international angels. Contro also received grant funding from the i3 fund, backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Contro, which will be launched in June 2021, will focus on sexual health and confidence treatment. Currently, the company provides six services, including birth control subscriptions, erectile dysfunction treatment, and hair loss treatment, as well as one-time treatment for STIs, Thrush, and UTIs.

“Our success to date has shown that putting the customer first is key to creating a successful direct-to-consumer business in South Africa,” Alex Schmid, Contro’s founder, said.

“By understanding the barriers to entry and pain points individuals go through when seeking sexual healthcare services, we have been able to build a service that fundamentally makes access cost-effective, discreet and easier than ever before.”

“I am incredibly proud of the work our team has produced, the hours dedicated and the weekends sacrificed to get the company where it is today. Investors have witnessed that determination and the potential Contro has, which has proudly resulted in exceptional VCs, Angels and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation backing us and our platform.”

Since its beginning, the site has facilitated therapy for over 2000 people across South Africa and has grown from strength to strength. Contro’s team bootstrapped the platform’s development in 2019, hoping to demonstrate product-market fit before seeking outside financing, which they have done.

“Our largest achievement to date has been creating an accessible and affordable service for all South Africans. The platform is utilized in areas such as Soweto, Khayelitsha, and Alexandra as well as rural areas,” Schmid said.

“We are one of the few companies that can facilitate consultations and medication delivery anywhere in South Africa. As a South African founding team, this has humbled us, and this achievement is what drives us to continue to develop our platform and company to deliver healthcare to all.”

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