Duke Ekezie, the co-founder and President of Kippa, the fintech startup backed by Target Global, left the company after Kippa Pay, the agency banking product he was in charge of, was shut down.
Duke had been absent on the company’s Slack channel for months, two ex-employees said. When TechCabal requested comments in December 2023, Duke said he could not “confirm or deny his exit.”
The Kippa cofounder has now confirmed his exit from the company and has begun working on a different venture he declined to share specifics.
“I am still very involved in Kippa as I have been providing advisory services to [Kennedy] who is first my brother before my co-founder,” Duke told TechCabal on a call.
He remains a shareholder and co-founder in Kippa even though he is currently working on a different business. He also declined to comment on the 2022 exit of Uche Jepthat, the CTO and third cofounder.
Uche Jepthat left Kippa in November 2022—two months after the startup announced that it had raised $8.2 million in a second round of funding, per his LinkedIn profile. He has co-founded another business— Earna, which offers benefits and wellness plans to employees.
Moving on from agency banking and Kippa
“In the last quarter of 2023, after [Kennedy and I] decided to exit the agency banking business due to its unprofitability, I handed over the day-to-day operations of Kippa to [Kennedy], ” said Duke.
Duke coordinated the company’s growth, marketing and strategy teams and led Kippa Pay, the now-divested agency banking business, said two persons who worked with him at the time.
In October, the Kippa Pay business was shut down, and 40 employees who worked on the product were laid off.
After closing the agency banking business, Duke and Kennedy Ekezie returned to the drawing board. “We went back to talk to SMEs and large businesses to see what problems they had that we could solve. Two problems stood out for us.”
“One of the problems aligned with my long-term goals and ambitions, and the other aligned with Kennedy’s. So we have decided to solve these problems individually,” Duke told TechCabal.
He declined to share specifics of the problem he’s looking to solve with his new venture.
Kippa’s pivot to edtech
On Wednesday, TechCabal exclusively reported that Kippa is pivoting to edtech with an AI-powered platform that creates courses and teaches them to learners via messaging apps.
It’s a creative pivot, considering where the business began.
Two years before starting Kippa, Kennedy and Duke spent a year in Beijing supporting TikTok’s expansion into Africa. Alongside Jephthah Uche, they launched the finance management platform in June 2021 after traveling to Lagos, Uyo, Owerri, and Aba—Nigeria’s bustling commercial centers—to meet small businesses and learn what problems they could solve for them.
Upon learning that manual reconciliation of business transactions was a major pain point for these businesses, they came up with an app that automates accounting processes and called it Kippa— possibly a wordplay on the word “bookkeeper.”
They eventually raised about $11.6 million across two rounds from VC firms like Goodwater Capital, Target Global, TEN13 VC, Rocketship VC, Saison Capital, Crestone VC, VentureSouq, Horizon Partners and Vibe Capital, Entrée Capital, Alter Global and Rally Cap Venture.
Angel investors across those rounds included Babs Ogundeyi, Kuda CEO; Sriram Krishnan, an investor in Khatabook; Raffael Johnen, Auxmoney CEO; Chris Bouwer; Kyane Kassiri; Edward Suh of Goodwater Capital; and Sajid Rahman also funded the startup.