Mobile phone usage is exploding in Africa and the continent is the world’s fastest-growing mobile market. StarNews Mobile is a mobile video network that’s partnered with the largest telecom operators to provide video content to this burgeoning base of consumers. The company allows entertainers and brands to reach their audiences while allowing content creators to monetize their content. Currently available in Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Congo and South Africa, StarNews has plans to expand to Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and other nations in the near future.
LA TechWatch caught up with Founder and CEO Guy Kamgaing to learn more about the market opportunity in Africa for content providers, the company’s future plans, and recent funding round.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We have recently finished our seed round, raising $1.8M. Our notable investors are pan African Fund I&P and Santa Monica-based accelerator, Expert Dojo.
Tell us about the product or service that StarNews Mobile offers.
StarNews is a network of mobile video channels that gives you access to amazing content thanks to strong distribution and marketing partnerships with pan-African mobile operators such as MTN, Orange and Moov.
What inspired the start of StarNews Mobile?
I have been working with African Telcos for 20 years. I understood the market, our users and partners noting that there was a real need and desire for great, affordable content where StarNews could be the solution. Thanks to our strong partnerships with MTN and Orange whom we both have group deals with, we were able to penetrate the market and test our product with little to no marketing effort. We knew that the competition was present and worked to create a different product, innovative, and accessibility to everyone.
How is it different?
We are filling the gap of income generation for content producers in Africa. A lot of these services are not paying creators or the other platforms consume so much data that they aren’t suitable nor do their revenue models cater to the marketplace. Our technology is also intuitive and easy to use. Depending on the country, we either use SMS or USSD code, to help the user to subscribe. They do NOT pay for data to use the service. We directly bill the user who pays a small daily or weekly fee (micro-billing from their airtime balance). Subscribers opt-in to their favorite channel, they receive a daily notification with a link. They just have to click on the link and stream the video.
What market are you targeting and how big is it?
Africa has a population of 1B+ people, mostly receiving their daily info from a major telecom. Through our carrier partnerships, we are targeting and seeking to deliver great content to a footprint of roughly 400M people.
What’s your business model?
We have an SVOD model with technology that is both intuitive and easy to use. Depending on the country, we either use SMS or USSD code, helping the user to subscribe. They do NOT pay for data to use the service. We directly bill the user who pays a small daily or weekly fee (micro-billing from their airtime balance). Subscribers opt-in to their favorite channel, they receive a daily notification with a link. They just have to click on the link and stream the video. Our celebrities and content providers are paid monthly– revenues are split between the operators (distribution), StarNews, and the content providers.
How has COVID-19 impacted the business?
To be honest, COVID has not really affected the business, since celebrities needed a way to monetize their content during quarantine. StarNews provided a really great opportunity to do so.
Relatively smooth! Investors understood our offering and were excited to get involved. Both I&P and Expert Dojo have been phenomenal partners.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
The biggest challenge has been the learning curve in regard to how things work in Africa. There are varying degrees of assumptions that are often made, but unless you travel overseas, chances are you won’t understand. We’re fortunate to have investors that are open-minded and understanding of the unique challenges that we face (and others) might face in Africa.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
I think it’s a combination of a few things! We have a tremendous vision that we are pursuing and through that we provide real access and understanding of the market. My years of experience in telecom have been useful in establishing a foundation for us to build upon.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We are excited for what’s to come over the next six months. We plan to go live in new countries, onboard new content and celebrities as well as announce new partners and begin raising our next round of investment.
What advice can you offer companies in Los Angeles that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
If you’re looking for funding you need to be resourceful. Leave no stone unturned!
What is your favorite restaurant in LA?
Berri’s Pizza! Unfortunately, it’s not open for dine-in right now but I order delivery pretty regularly.