Nigerian data firm Stears has raised $3.3 million in a seed round in which Serena William’s VC firm Serena Ventures participated.
The company said the funds will facilitate its expansion into East and Southern Africa and help expand its talent pool as well as data collection and analytics capabilities.
Stears was launched in 2017 as a media publication focusing on data insights. The founders, Michael Famoroti, an economist; Bode Ogunlana, a software engineer; Abdul Abdulrahim, a data scientist; and Preston Ideh, a corporate lawyer met while studying at the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford. They were alarmed at the difficulty of finding data and information on their home country Nigeria and set out to change the status quo.
Their flagship product was Stears Premium, a subscription-based insights publication that churns out content ranging from general news to investigative pieces. Their content range from business and finance to economy, and government among other subjects. The subscription costs $100.
“We have a strong understanding of the kind of information people need. So our focus is on standardizing information dissemination and building with the customer in mind,” Ide, one of the co-founders said, “An essential part of our business model is pushing out high-value subscription data products, for instance, proprietary forecast models. Conversely, the low-value end will be news, so customers’ willingness to spend changes as they go along the spectrum.”
As a result of deep engagement in the data world, Stears has morphed into a data and intelligence company, dishing out critical information on market entry, country analysis and digital economy for international organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office and other entities.
The company’s model has ensured growth and sustainability, with enterprise customers now accounting for 75% of its revenues, a considerable rise from 45% last year.
The new funding incorporated MaC Venture Capital. Serena Ventures, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund, Melo 7 Tech Partners and Cascador (Empowering Economic Growth Foundation). Stears raised $650,000 in pre-seed funding two years ago. It’s also among this year’s cohort of Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.