GSD Labs Company Q-Hop Raises $500K Seed Round

Derek Distenfield
4 min readApr 6, 2022


GSD Venture Studios is thrilled to announce a $500K investment raised for GSD Labs cohort five alumni and B2B tech company Q-Hop, offering IoT as a service based in South Africa.

Q-Hop is a FinTech and AI hyper-personalized shopping and autonomous checkout solution that predicts and influences real-time shopping behavior. This three-year-old African unicorn has quickly risen in the ranks, getting the attention of global venture capitalists with its mobile app that uses shopper data and AI to provide hyper-personalized promotions.

“A well-deserved congratulations to Ajay Lalu and his team for achieving the first of many milestones for Q-Hop, not only in Africa but the global economy at large.” — Gary Fowler, CEO of GSD Venture Studios

This seed round of funding comes from E Squared Investments, an Impact Investor, and a shareholder in Allan Gray. The funding is being delivered as a convertible debt instrument which will convert into equity at a discounted rate when Q-Hop’s Series A round of funding is complete. E Squared has a long history of enabling responsible entrepreneurs like Lalu, being the catalyst for economic development, transformation, and social upliftment in South Africa on a global scale.

Q-Hop has taken on the mission of helping retailers recover from the 4.6T dollar loss on abandoned carts annually due to long checkout queues. They are quickly gaining converts worldwide by assisting retailers in seamlessly converging the physical and virtual environments. Their solutions drive significant efficiencies and profits in retailers’ business and deliver a better consumer experience overall.

“The GSD Labs accelerator allowed us access to amazing Advisory Board members like Rick Orloff and John Agate through the networks of Gary Fowler and Derek Distenfield. Through the accelerator, we were able to polish our pitch deck and our financial forecasts with the guidance and experience of Silicon Valley veterans. This gave investors like E Squared confidence to continue to invest in Q-Hop and opened up other potential investors from the Valley.” Ajay Lalu, Q-Hop Founder

Q-Hop is currently planning to raise $1.7 million in seed funding, of which this $500K is the first committed round. Mr. Lalu says that the remaining $1.2 million of funding is in the process of being assessed by international venture capital firms.

The funding will help them expand their business development activities to include pilots and solidify their application development team. Soon, the Q-Hop team will be kicking off two pilot projects to demonstrate the business case in the market, one at the District 6 Spar and one in Saudi Arabia.

“Having visited Q-Hop in their home country of South Africa and working with them through GSD Labs, I have witnessed their resilience and commitment to disrupting the global market. This investment will be one of many launchpads to accelerate their growth.” — Derek Distenfield, COO of GSD Venture Studios

Originally published at on April 6, 2022.

About GSD Venture Studios:
We travel the world investing in resilient teams bold enough to #GoGlobal.
For too long, self-motivated entrepreneurs have navigated the minefield of challenges to launching a global company with very little support. The last thing you should bet on in this situation is an unproven team that you don’t trust. GSD Venture Studios travels to every corner of the globe inviting resilient teams to establish partnerships that ensure organizations grow the right way, without games or gimmicks. You can learn more about GSD Ventures Studios here:

About Derek Distenfield:
Known for both bringing revolutionary new ideas to organizations that deliver explosive growth and for displaying a high tolerance for ambiguity and complexity. For over 15 years, Derek has blazed high impact careers in startups, corporations, governments, and nonprofit organizations that range from $0 to $2 billion.
He is the operational mastermind, COO and Co-founder behind the success of GSD Venture Studios. Derek brings a variety of resources together to deliver explosive growth for GSD’s portfolio companies. Additionally, he lectures on startup growth at leading universities and writes for Analytic Insight Magazine honored Derek as a 40 under 40 Innovator for his work in redefining the future of tech through cutting edge innovation. called Derek as one of 2020s most influential people.
Derek is a frequent keynote speaker, advisor, and mentor. Silicon Valley is home, and he travels the world frequently to work with GSD’s portfolio companies.
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Derek Distenfield

Derek Distenfield is an investor, operational mastermind, frequent keynote speaker, advisor, and mentor based in Charlotte, GA.