Nigeria’s Stears Raises $3.3M to Address Africa’s Data Shortage.

Stears, a Nigerian data and intelligence company, has raised $3.3 million to address Africa's data shortage.

Stears, a Nigerian data and intelligence company, has raised $3.3 million to address Africa’s data shortage.

A Nigerian data and intelligence company, Stears has raised $3.3 million to expand into East and Southern Africa, improve its data collection and analytics capabilities, and acquire talent. MaC Venture Capital led this seed round. Serena Ventures, Melo 7 Tech Partners, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund, and Cascador also participated.

Preston Ideh, Abdul Abdulrahim, Foluso Ogunlana, and Michael Famoroti, students at the London School of Economics and Oxford, founded Stears in 2017 as a solution to the country’s data shortage. Stears has evolved from a free-to-read publication to a data and intelligence firm since then.

Stears Insights, formerly known as Stears Business, is the startup’s flagship product, a data-driven website that provides in-depth insight for finance professionals. Stears Insights is able to provide valuable insights to its individual and corporate clients by crunching proprietary and publicly available data.

Stears has gradually but steadily entered the data and intelligence industry over the years, and it now provides data collection, production, advisory, and analysis services.

We know global professionals require 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,” Stears CEO Preston Ideh says in a statement.

Stears Premium, a $100 yearly subscription product, publishes long-form articles that discuss relevant issues in business and finance, the economy, technology, government, and policy. Aside from finance professionals and knowledge workers who use it to stay ahead of the curve, large corporations and institutions that recognize its value pay a group subscription for their employees. Sterling Bank, Sparkle, Piggyvest, Paystack, the United Nations Development Programme, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, and the European Investment Bank are among these businesses and institutions.

Stears said in a statement that its user base has grown at a rate of around 6.5% month on month over the last year, more than doubling its total number of users. Enterprise customers account for 75% of revenue, up from 45% in 2021. According to the company, revenue in the first six months of 2022 surpassed revenue in the entire year of 2021.

A view of Stears Insights and prototype of Stears Data on mobile. Image Source: Stears

Our experience with Stears Premium, our flagship insights product, exposed us to significant demand for more than just insights.” We are now collaborating with international development organizations and financial institutions to create proprietary and exclusive datasets that are not available anywhere else. “With this new investment, we can expand our data coverage to meet the needs of global professionals who want direct access to our data, not just our insight,” said Abdul Abdulrahim, Stear’s COO and Data scientist.

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. Last month, it received up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding after being 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 to 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 digitized 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.”

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