Serena Williams’ investment firm backs Nigerian data company to raise $3.3 million

Abu Mubarik October 12, 2022
Serena Williams appears on the runway after her Spring 2016 collection was presented during Fashion Week in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures has backed a Nigerian financial data and insights company called Stears to raise $3.3 million in a seed round. The investment falls in line with her post-retirement plan after she quit tennis last month. 

The seed round was led by MaC Venture Capital with the participation of Melo 7 Tech Partners, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund, Cascador, and Hoaq Club.

“One of the reasons I invested in Stears is not because of my love and appreciation for Africa, but because Stears has strategically thought of how to increase the investment community on the continent,” she was quoted by Bloomberg.

“Better and more transparent business and financial data is expected to lead to more investment on the African continent. Stears has shown a deep appreciation of the complexities involved in solving this problem for global professionals. Through a combination of technology and data, Stears is well placed to leverage the massive data opportunity on the continent,” she added.

The startup was founded in 2017 by Preston Ideh, Abdul Abdulrahim, Foluso Ogunlana, and Michael Famoroti. They met at the London School of Economics and Imperial College in the UK.

The startup offers subscription-based data and insight to businesses and professionals. According to the founders, they established the company because of challenges in getting data-driven insights on the African continent. The company focuses primarily on Nigeria.

According to Bloomberg, Stears is a rare subscription success story in a country where subscription services are quite low. The company said its user base has grown at around 6.5% month-on-month.

“Enterprise customers make up more than 75% of revenue, up from 45% in 2021. The company said its revenue in the first half of 2022 surpassed that for all of 2021,” Bloomberg reported.

Premium Times Nigeria reports that the company plans to use the seed round to enhance its data collection and analytics capabilities, talent acquisition and expansion to East and Southern Africa.

“We know global professionals need our data and insight because banks, research firms, development organizations, and investors are already using our early products. Our customers tell us we are building a ‘systemically important’ company to address Africa’s data problem,” co-founder Ideh said about the funding round. 

“Globally, information providers like Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters have built data powerhouses, which act as information gateways to Western markets. We are executing an African version of this model, focused on the often missing, outdated, or poorly digitized African datasets needed by operators, finance and policy professionals, researchers, and even regulators,” he added.

Last month, Stears was among 60 startups that got accepted into the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund 2022 cohort.

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