Stears raises $3.3 million to solve Africa’s data dearth
Nigerian data and intelligence company, Stears has raised $3.3 million to enhance its data collection and analytics capabilities, acquire talent and expand into East and Southern Africa. This seed round was led by MaC Venture Capital. It also saw participation from Serena Ventures, Melo 7 Tech Partners, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund and Cascador.
Students of the London School of Economics and Oxford, Preston Ideh, Abdul Abdulrahim, Foluso Ogunlana and Michael Famoroti founded Stears in 2017 as the solution to data dearth in the country. Since then, Stears has evolved from a free-to-read publication into a data and intelligence company.
The startup’s flagship product is Stears Insights, formerly known as Stears Business, a site that offers in-depth insight for finance professionals, using data. By crunching proprietary and publicly available data, Stears Insights is able to provide valuable insights for its individual and corporate clients.
Over the years, Stears has slowly but surely entered the data and intelligence industry and currently provides data collection, production, advisory and analysis services.
“We know global professionals need our data and insight because banks, research firms, development organisations 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,” Stears’ CEO Preston Ideh explains in a statement.
Its $100 yearly subscription product, Stears Premium publishes long-form articles that discuss pertinent issues in business and finance, economy, tech, government and policy. Apart from finance professionals and knowledge workers who use it to get ahead of the curve, big businesses and institutions that see its value pay a group subscription for their employees. Some of these businesses and institutions include Sterling Bank, Sparkle, Piggyvest, Paystack, United Nations Development Programme, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office and the European Investment Bank.
In a statement, Stears said its user base has grown at around 6.5% month-on-monthly in the past year, doubling its total number of users over the last year. Enterprise customers contribute 75% of its revenue, rising from 45% in 2021. According to the company, its revenue in the past 6 months of 2022 surpassed that for all of 2021.
“Our experience with our flagship insights product, Stears Premium, introduced us to significant demand for more than just insights. Now, we are working with international development institutions and financial institutions to produce proprietary and exclusive datasets that don’t exist anywhere else. With this new investment, we can expand our data coverage to target the needs of global professionals who want direct access to our data, not just our insight,” Stear’s COO and data scientist Abdul Abdulrahim said.
Despite already running its publication for two years, Stears first came into the limelight in 2019 when it launched Stears Election, Nigeria’s first real-time election database which aggregated official election data. During the 2019 presidential election fever periods, February and March, Stears Election was visited by 7 million Nigerians. It subsequently averaged 2 million visits for the rest of the year.
Back in 2019, Stears received $600,000 in pre-seed funding from Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund to grow its data arm, Stears Data and build a premium subscription product, Stears Premium. Just last month, it received up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding after it was selected for the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund 2022 cohort. With this fresh fund, Stears’ total cumulative funding has risen to about $4 million.
Stears, in a bid to replicate Bloomberg’s information service launched Stears Data in 2017, an information research and advisory arm, which caters for the information needs of government officials and big businesses.
“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 digitised African datasets needed by operators, finance and policy professionals, researchers and even regulators,” Ideh added.
With this fresh funding, Stears, which is transitioning into a pan-African data and intelligence firm, will hire on-ground intelligence teams in Kenya, South Africa and Egypt.
MaC’s investment in Stears is its 9th in an African firm and it will see its co-founder and managing general partner, Marlon Nichols join the Stears’ board.
“Africa is home to the first humans and is now the next frontier for business,” Nichols said. “Many multinational corporations and governments understand this to be a reality. They also appreciate that several African countries are subject to unique business processes and are primarily cash-based economies, which results in understated GDP, among other things.
Stears is uniquely positioned to provide the proprietary and accurate data needed to unlock trade and deeper business relationships with African countries and companies.”