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Minly, a Creator Economy Platform out of Egypt Raises a $3.6M Seed Round

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Minly’s team (Image and press release by Minly)

Minly, a platform empowering stars to create authentic, personalized connections with their fans across the MENA region, has closed an oversubscribed $3.6 million seed round co-led by 4DX Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners, and Global Ventures. The round also included participation from other leading regional funds, and a cast of highly strategic angel investors including Scooter Braun (founder of SB Projects), WndrCo (Anthony Saleh and Jeffrey Katzenberg), Jason Finger (founder of Seamless / Grubhub), Arieh Mimran (Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer of to.org, and CIO of Groupe Mimran), and Tamim Jabr (Executive Director for International Investments at Kingdom Holding Co).

“Minly is fundamentally changing the relationship between celebrities and fans in the MENA region, and has an enormous opportunity for growth,” says Peter Orth, Co-Founder & General Partner at 4DX Ventures, who will be joining the board. “The team has both the ambition and the expertise to build a full-stack digital interaction platform that could change the way digital content is created and consumed in the region. We’re thrilled to partner with Minly and to help them reach their full potential.”

The company has experienced rapid organic growth since launching in late 2020, and already has more than 50,000 registered users on the platform, along with an impressive list of tier A regional celebrities. Through Minly, users can buy personalized video messages and shoutouts from their favorite celebrities, getting unprecedented access to the talent they admire most, and celebrities in turn get to connect with their fans on a deeper level. Minly has assembled a diverse roster of hundreds of talented celebrities that not only includes traditional cinema and television stars but also athletes, musicians, and internet influencers. Minly has been able to attract some of the top talent in the region to the platform, including Tamer Hosny, Fifi Abdou, Assala Nasri, Dorra Zarrouk, Hazem Imam, and Mahmoud Trezeguet. The global pandemic has helped boost interest in the platform – in person events have all but disappeared, and Minly is offering celebrities an authentic and personal way to continue to interact with their top fans.

One such top star on the platform is acclaimed singer, actor, and director Tamer Hosny, with more than 50 million followers across social media. “I’m very excited to be on Minly, connecting with my fans around the world,” he says. “I’m also super happy with the social impact that we’re making on Minly, as a portion of the proceeds goes to charities to help the less fortunate”.

Minly has broader ambitions to extend their products and services to become a full-stack passion economy platform that empowers content creators to deliver meaningful experiences across multiple mediums to their fans. “With this new funding and the incredible group of partners that joined us, we are ready to scale across the region and introduce an exciting suite of new products,” says Mohamed El-Shinnawy, co-founder at Minly. “The creator economy is in its infancy and growing at lightning speed. We have the opportunity to build this category’s first unicorn in MENA”.

Minly allows users to browse public shoutouts on the platform and gives them a chance to record their reactions creating unique and authentic moments. An example of the heartfelt Minly Moments created on the platform is when Tamer Hosny popped up unexpectedly in Haidy and Abanoub’s engagement party surprising everyone and creating an unforgettable moment for the happy couple. Another Minly Moment that was captured on the platform was for Assala’s biggest fans, the Al-Ghazzawi family. Mohamad was caught off guard when his wife Insaf gifted him a personalized video from Assala on Father’s Day celebrating their precious daughter Sham. “As a mission-driven team, it’s all about spreading this positivity, and empowering stars and content creators to engage with communities from all walks of life. We’re also very proud of our collaboration with NGOs that create real on-the-ground social impact, such as the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation.” adds Shinnawy.

Shinnawy brings more than 15 years of media and technology experience to the table. He sold his first company Emerge Technology to a media and entertainment company based in Los Angeles, and managed a team of 85 engineers that delivered work for Hollywood’s top studios, such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal, Disney, Fox, and Warner Brothers. Shinnawy also played an instrumental role in Apple TV+, Disney+, and Netflix’s global expansion to reach hundreds of millions of users worldwide.

Minly’s Co-Founders

Co-founded and led by Mohamed El-Shinnawy, Tarek Hosny, and Bassel El-Toukhy, with industry partners such as Tarek ElGanainy and Ahmed Abbas, Minly’s team brings together decades of experience from top firms in technology and entertainment, including Uber, Careem, MBC’s Shahid, Emerge Technology, Microsoft, Disney, Apple, Netflix, IBM, Amazon, and Vodafone.

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Egypt’s BONBELL seeks $10 million seed funding after closing $350,000 initial round

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Egypt’s startup BONBELL, the first mobile App in the Food-tech industry specialized in food ordering, digital solutions for table and meal reservations, has closed an initial funding round for $350,000. This is through a Canadian Angel investor, to help further develop the App services and achieve a level of growth in regard to user count and daily orders.

BONBELL launched its own App in early 2022, to offer a wide range of food ordering services in Egypt. The App offers many food ordering solutions, from food delivery to restaurant’s reservations and Dine-in ordering through a QR Code on the tables, as well as take away services. The App offers various payment solutions through cash or credit cards.

BONBELL has partnered with many restaurants and cafes, as well as clubs like Heliopolis Club and Smash Club. It also offers its services in Malls and Cinemas, to offer a smoother food ordering experience, reserving tables and food delivery, for mall and cinema goers. It has also strategically partnered with many leading major companies and institutions. Most notably the German University in Cairo (GUC), and Raya Telecom, in order to offer its services in their respective headquarters for employees and visitors alike.

The Food-Tech startup targets raising its partnered restaurants to 750 by the end of 2022. The company is also negotiating with two venture capital funds from Europe and the Gulf, to close a $10 million fund in its seed round by the end of the year.

Doaa Abdel-Hameed, the Chief Business Officer of the company said: “we aim to help restaurants in offering an easier food ordering experience to their customers. Either through food delivery or reserving a table in the restaurant, as well as taking away orders and also the special orders made by customers in their restaurants.”

“We pursue a better experience for the Egyptian user in food ordering. We see a lot of potential and opportunities to do that through developing the App constantly based on the user reviews. And adding more restaurants in all of the Egyptian governorates.” She added.

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BONBELL has earned the trust of more than 12,000 customers, who used the app in food ordering in all the ways offered through the App, in just 6 month.

Doaa Abdel-Hameed emphasized that the success of BONBELL App, in offering the best experience to its users can only be done through strategic partnerships with many more restaurants. In addition to the constant development of the technology used in the App, as well as relying on offering inventive solutions to the Egyptian user such as (Robotic Stations) service. 

This service will offer customers the experience of food ordering and serving through a Robot, without any human intervention. It is expected to launch in Egypt at the end of 2023.

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Dream VC applications: A peek behind the scenes

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Dream VC breaking down the numbers and representation in its programs

A year ago, Dream VC quietly launched its first inaugural cohort applications with the hopes of closing the investing knowledge gap for check-writers and ecosystem builders across the continent. Fast forward one year later, they have received an overwhelming amount of interest from people curious about investing and contributing to the African startup ecosystem. Across two cohorts alone, they have processed more than 2000 applicants from 30 African countries. With fellows dialing in five continents and multiple time zones.

That being said, they’d like to share some interesting findings they have extracted and learned from the whirlwind that Dream VC has been in from last year to now.

Cohorts

By the end of 2022, Dream VC will have 2 cohorts under its belt with 3 programs run. There has been an increase in total applications despite the difference in price point between the 2021 program and this year.

Raw Aggregation of Dream VC Applications 2021 vs 2022

Breakdown Of The 2021 Cohort

For its inaugural cohort, they received a total of 1002 applications and had an intake of 31 fellows, with an acceptance rate of 3%. The average age of its fellows was 25, with most being in their mid-twenties to late twenties. And exploring VC as a new career pivot after a few years of full-time work experience. After 4 months of rigorous and community-driven engagements, a total of 19 Fellows graduated from the program with an issued certification.

When looking at the specific demographics of Dream VC’s inaugural fellows, findings show that 90% of the fellows were homegrown. Which they classified as having been born, raised, and educated on the continent. They also had 12 African countries represented and 16 different Nationalities in total.

List of countries represented by Dream VC 2021 Applicants

Although its initial intake consisted of 33% women, the final certified graduating fellows consisted of 60% women. Meaning that all of the female fellows who joined the fellowship finished the program.

This is a strong indication of the perseverance of its female fellows in particular. And they are committed to making a strong push to convert more women into its talent pipeline. Especially given that only 15% of the 2021 applicants identified as female. At Dream VC, they urge more women to apply for its programs and also reapply for future cohorts if they were not accepted initially.

Breakdown Of The 2022 Application Cycle

For 2022, Dream VC opened its applications on March 8th and had then remained open for over a month and a half until its final deadline on May 1st. In total, they received a total of 1,375 applications for its Launch into VC (“LIVC”) and Investor Accelerator (“IA”) programs.

Aggregate breakdown of 2022 Applicants across “LIVC” and “IA” programs

Around 81% of the total applications were for our Launch into VC fellowship, and the remaining 19% were for the Investor Accelerator. We received a total number of 1,113 applications for Launch into VC, and 262 for Investor Accelerator.

Gender Breakdown

Aggregate breakdown of 2022 Applicants, by Gender, across the “LIVC” and “IA” programs and in total

Out of the total applications for 2022, 31% of the applicants identified as female. When taking a closer look at the gender breakdown for each program, Investor Accelerator had a higher percentage of female applicants with 37% of total Investor Accelerator applicants, while Launch into VC had 29%.

Nationality Breakdown

Aggregate breakdown of 2022 Applicants, by Nationality, across the “LIVC” and “IA” programs and in total

When reviewing the nationalities of the applicants, it was found that for 2022, Dream VC has exponentially expanded its reach of applicants in both nationality and location. However, most of the applicants are still overwhelmingly from the continent and diaspora, which accounts for 86% of the total applicants. The remaining 14% hail from non-African countries such as India, Singapore, and Germany with non-African backgrounds.

Aggregate breakdown of 2022 Applicants, by Nationality. Important Note: 25 Other Countries Represent the Other 10.36% Not Shown On Graph.

When looking more closely at each program, 87% of the applicants for Launch into VC applicants were homegrown or African diaspora, compared to 83% of the Investor Accelerator applicants. This year saw 30 different African countries across the continent represented. With a majority of the applicants coming from Nigeria (43.7%), followed by Kenya (10%), Rwanda and South Africa (3.9% each respectively), Ghana (3.6%), Uganda (3.2%),  Zimbabwe (2.9%), and Tanzania (2.3%).

List of countries represented by Dream VC 2022 Applicants

Interestingly, the country represented the most by the diaspora applicants was Cameroon, followed by Nigeria, across both programs.

Across the different African regions, West Africa took the lead in applicants with over half of the applicants hailing from the region (58%)East Africa contributed to another quarter with approximately 29% of applicants coming from the area, followed by Southern Africa (6%)Central Africa (4%), and finally North Africa (2%). Dream VC’s footprint can still be solidified further, particularly in the ecosystems in North Africa, and its team will be traveling actively to Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia to build relationships there.

Locations Breakdown

List of non-African countries represented by Dream VC 2022 Applicants.

When looking at the locations of applicants applying from outside the continent (including diaspora and non-Africans), over 50% of them applied from the United States and the United Kingdom. Dream VC also saw an increase of Indian and Singaporean applicants from Asia. And a spread of interesting European countries including Belgium, Belarus, Germany, France, Finland, and Sweden.

Closing Remarks & Reflections

Since launching Dream VC in 2021, the team has been endlessly grateful for the overwhelming interest from the African & International community. As well as the selfless support that has been extended by various ecosystem partners and connections in our network.

Its application cycles have revealed several interesting insights into where the strong interest can be found in various startup ecosystems. As well as certain areas we are endeavoring to have better reach in (ex: North Africa and Arabophone countries).

They also strongly encourage more female applicants to apply AND reapply to its programs. As they are strongly committed to building out the opportunity and talent pipeline for black women in particular focused on investing in Africa.

 

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Base10 Partners Led By Adeyemi Ajao Becomes First Black-Led VC Firm To Cross $1 Billion AUM With New Fund

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Base10 Partners co-Founder and CEO, Adeyemi Ajao (Source Adeyemi Ajao Image: Base10)

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