October 11, 2022

Why Serena Ventures Fought “Tooth And Nail” To Back This Nigerian Data Startup

Nigerian startup Stears has announced a $3.3 million seed round led by MaC Venture Capital which included Serena Ventures.

What started as a written media publication by a group of Nigerian graduates is now a growing data insights company with its sights set on rivalling the likes of Bloomberg.

Backed by Serena Ventures

Serena Williams was playing in the US Open when the seed round for Stears came together. Nevertheless, according to Serena Ventures’ founding general partner, they were keen to invest and fought “tooth and nail” to get in.

Williams’ decision to back Stears goes beyond her affection for African startups. “Stears has strategically thought of how to increase the investment community on the continent,” she explained.

“They’re aware of the complexities and have leverage with data and technology, and I truly respect what they’re doing.”

The story behind Stears

Stears is the brainchild of a group of graduates: economist Michael Famoroti, software engineer Bode Ogunlana, data scientist Abdul Abdulrahim, and corporate lawyer Preston Ideh.

Their flagship insights product, Stears Premium, is a $100-a-year digital publication. Subscribers can expect to receive regular in-depth analysis-driven content on Nigerian business, finance, economy, government, and policy.

“Our mission has always been to be the world’s most trusted provider of African data and insight”

Their subscribers are reported to include fintechs like Paystack and financial institutions like Sterling Bank. They also report that their data intelligence services are used by international organizations like European Investment Bank, United Nations Development Programme, and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

“Our mission has always been to be the world’s most trusted provider of African data and insight,” co-founder Preston Ideh told Bloomberg.

It’s a mission that MaC Venture Capital founding managing partner Marlon Nichols clearly believes in. He is joining the Stears board.

“Africa is home to the first humans and is now the next frontier for business,” said Nichols. “Many multinational corporations and governments understand this to be a reality.”

“Data is a huge business, and I think Stears has figured out a unique process of acquiring and analyzing data and also visualizing that data in a way that really resonates with both companies and governments.”

Image credit: Techcruch

A series of successes 

Stears’ seed round is the latest in a series of successes for the startup, which was selected for Google for Startups Black Founders Fund 2022. Prior to this, they raised $650,000 in pre-seed funding in 2020.

In 2019, the company developed Nigeria’s first real-time election database, which it intends to relaunch – with more datasets and functionalities – ahead of Nigeria’s 2023 elections.

Bloomberg reports that Stears’ user base has grown at around 6.5% each month, doubling the company’s number of users over the last year. Based on the current trajectory, the company expects revenues to be double last year’s

Expanding across Africa

Stears will use this recent funding to continue its transition from a Nigerian insight company to an Africa-wide data company.

They plan to produce their own exclusive datasets and develop local expertise in Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt. Stears also has its sights set on a proprietary data service that will rival the likes of Bloomberg.

Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)