$8Mn Funding Round for VOD Platform iROKOtv
The Africa-based movie platform for Nigerian movies, known colloquially as Nollywood, has received the cash boost led by existing investor Tiger Global and includes further participation from Sweden-based Kinnevik.
This brings the total raised to $21Mn, arguably making iROKOtv one of the most well-funded internet companies in Africa today.
iROKOtv is the leading Video-on-Demand (VOD) platform for African content and following the announcement of the $8Mn investment, the company will continue to focus its attention on growing traffic, content curation and building a platform-agnostic distribution system for its one million monthly users.
To-date, the capital raised by iROKOtv has been used to acquire content, expand the London-based tech team, develop mobile websites and applications and open offices in London, New York and Johannesburg, alongside the company’s Lagos headquarters.
iROKOtv now holds the world’s largest online catalogue of African content, with more than 5,000 movies.
The new capital will be channelled at building and transitioning the company’s audience from a primarily Diaspora base to an African base, as well as migrating from a largely ad supported model to more subscription service.
Currently, 50 percent of iROKOtv’s audience is located in the UK and US alone, but with the continent coming online, demand for home grown multi-platform video content is rising fast.
There will also be a renewed focus on monetising iROKOtv’s catalogue through its SVOD service, iROKOtv PLUS, as well as through its strategic distribution partnerships with global airlines and TV channels.
Jason Njoku, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder said: “The $8Mn raised by Tiger Global, Kinnevik and Rise Capital will further fuel our expansion and help us to realise our long term goal of becoming one of Africa’s preeminent media companies.
“We started life three years ago as a Nollywood content aggregator on a YouTube channel and today we find ourselves with a VC-backed dedicated VOD platform, watched in 178 countries around the world, with one million unique visitors a month.
“These metrics were achieved with hard work from a great international team and today’s news allows us to continue in the same vein and accelerate our growth.”
Bastian Gotter, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder said: “We have forged a niche in African movie programming and captured people’s imagination in terms of bringing previously unobtainable yet popular content, loved by millions, to a global audience on an awesome platform.
“This additional capital allows us to consolidate our position as VOD market leaders for Africa, invest in tech, content and infrastructure and, importantly, we are now in a position to become profitable by 2015, which is an extraordinary feat for any start-up, let alone an African VOD one like ours.”
Nazar Yasin, Managing Partner of Rise Capital said: "We are very pleased to participate in this round of financing alongside Kinnevik and my former colleagues at Tiger Global. Having worked with Jason, Bastian and the team since their early days, we at Rise Capital look forward to continuing to help them scale their content acquisition and distribution channels and secure their positioning as Sub-Saharan Africa's largest and most impactful media company.
In July last year, iROKOtv introduced a subscription service (SVOD) to its site, iROKOtv PLUS, where for $5 a month, subscribers are the first to access the 12 brand new movies uploaded onto the site every month.
The iROKOtv PLUS business is currently growing rapidly and is now the largest single source of revenue for the company, revealing that more consumers are willing to pay for quality content. A total of 95 percent of content on iROKOtv continues to be free and is supported by an advertising (AVOD) business model.
iROKOtv has aggregated the world’s largest online Nollywood catalogue, now standing at 5,000 plus movies and the company has been credited by for pioneering VOD for Africa and African continent.
Coined by the media as the ‘Netflix of Africa’, iROKOtv has successfully disrupted and reorganised the multi-million dollar Nigerian movie industry’s distribution infrastructure.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.