May 23, 2022

African startups have raised between $4 billion and $5 billion in 2021, according to various sources. For years, local digital media startup tech publications have been hard at work behind the scenes to introduce African startups to global investors, shaping the history of African technology and taking it to a turning point last year.

Despite their best efforts and importance to the tech ecosystem, it seemed impossible for startups in Africa’s digital media landscape to raise significant venture capital, which relies heavily on grants and individual funding.

But today’s news promises Big cable media (BCM), a Nigerian-based media company that hosts two well-known publications, TechCable and Zicoco, announced it has raised $2.3 million in seed funding to expand its audience and create new verticals.

The seed round follows a $620,000 angel and pre-round raised by BCM between 2016 and 2020, bringing total funding to over $2.9 million. Mac Venture Capital led the round, which included VCs Luminate, Unicorn Group, Future Africa and several angel investors.

BCM was founded in 2013 by Sei Taylor and Bankol Oluvafemi. The company’s CEO Tomeiwa Aladekomo replaced Taylor in 2018.

In 2014, the Nigerian tech scene began to take off as more local and global venture capital poured into startups building the next big thing. With a post actively describing the events surrounding this ascent, TechCabal saw the difference, set camp to be the primary source of player stories in the tech ecosystem, and hasn’t looked back since.

Four years later, it is one of the most widely read tech publications on Africa’s tech ecosystem, from start-ups and innovators to venture capitalists and policy-making programs. he also has Newsletters such as The Next Wave and TC Events, an event organization that organizes popular meetings between operators and investors.

Aladecomo’s CEO told gaming-updates during a phone call that 300,000 to 500,000 unique readers visit the TechCable website every month. He also noted that the publication’s newsletters are read by more than 60,000 subscribers in more than 30 countries around the world.

While TechCable targets tech stakeholders, ZicoCo has a different audience. The publication creates and creates content about African youth culture for Generation Z and millennials in Africa and beyond.

Initially, Zicoko was fairly lightweight, taking content like BuzzFeed and creating fun lists and quizzes for the first audience. Parts of Zikoko’s website still revolve around this coverage, but the post has evolved into a chronicle of much more serious content – through content, videos, images and memes about the daily lives of young people in Nigeria.

Aladecomo reported that at its peak, ZicoCo has over 20 million monthly visits. The publication’s newsletter is read by more than 100,000 people every month.

“I think impact is more important than just numbers. This is our ability to negotiate money, relationships and careers like no other,” the CEO said. “Being the voice of citizens and government in a way that no one else is, I think that was very important for Zikoko.”

The main direct source of income for TechCabal and Zikoko comes from advertising both on their websites and in their newsletters. Other major African tech and entertainment media outlets such as Techpoint Africa, Pulse, Technext and also rely on advertising revenue.

While there are questions about the long-term sustainability of this model due to Google, Facebook and their monopoly on advertising dollars, the next option – subscriptions – is not as interesting to its audience in Africa as those who pay for music or films in comparison. to the news.

Some publications such as WeeTracker and Stears, which cover Nigerian business, economic and political news, use this model; However, it is unclear whether they have had any success in doing so.

To avoid relying too much on advertising, BCM has other weapons to serve a variety of clients and generate revenue for publishing to thrive. Gang For example, Creative is its own content studio that creates content for global brands such as Google, Uber and Coca-Cola. TC InsightsData analytics consulting, deals with research, data and industry strategy for various projects. TC Events is also an important source of income for the company. BCM said last year’s sales were 4 times higher than in 2020, while maintaining a compound annual growth rate of 225% over the past four years.

“We see ourselves as a media company that builds the future of media. In terms of revenue, we have always believed that multiple sources of revenue are needed to support publications that can thrive and meet their editorial ambitions,” said the CEO.

“And so our structure ensures that each of these publications is well funded – the money coming in allows us to take on more ambitious editorial projects.”

Building a media company anywhere in the world is no easy task. But as recently as the mid-2010s, U.S. digital media startups were a favorite for investors, as platforms like Vice and BuzzFeed were major beneficiaries of the space’s more than $1 billion at the time.

Last year, only $115 million was invested in digital media startups in the US.

As of mid-2010, digital media in Africa lags behind the US market by several years. At around $3 million, BCM is currently the most funded of them all. Several other tech-focused media startups have raised publicly disclosed venture money, including Stears, which raised $600,000 in 2020, and VTracker, which raised $400,000 that same year.

And while the pursuit of this is collective, it is also individual. For BCM, with 60% of Africa’s 550 million Internet users under the age of 25 online, it sees a huge opportunity – where traditional media is sluggish – to become the source of its technology news and content. , pop culture, lifestyle and entertainment.

“Despite the macroeconomic challenges associated with scaling a media company in Africa, we are creating thriving, strong reach areas that no one else covers,” Aladecomo said. “The media is important, and as one of the few publications that is raising venture capital, we are also one of the few companies that are serious about the media and its future on the continent. We’re taking this seriously, building a profitable, fast-growing business, and we want to shape how we can tell African stories that make us influential, which we currently don’t have.”

Aladecomo said this new investment will help BCM make significant investments in its technology and optimize its publications’ websites. He plans to develop more zicoco memesoA Giphy-style product focused on African memes, gifs and images that the company launched in 2020. Ultimately, it will use the new funds to expand its audience, work across the board and solidify its position as one of Africa’s most influential media and technology brands.

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