Today I’m discussing:
- Minly’s $3.6M seed funding
- Google’s warning notice for unreliable sources of breaking news
- World MSME Day and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses
Cairo-based Minly raises $3.6M in seed funding
Egypt’s Minly has raised $3.6 million in seed funding to connect fans and celebrities with authentic and personalised experiences. The round, which the startup says was ‘oversubscribed’, was co-led by 4DX Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners, and Global Ventures.
It also included participation from unnamed regional funds and angel investors like Scooter Braun, Founder of SB Projects, and Jason Finger, Co-founder of Seamless Web and GrubHub.
Cameo lookalike: Like Cameo, Minly allows users to connect with celebrities such as athletes, musicians, and actors. They can request a video, voice, or business shoutout for a specific fee set by the celebrity as advised by the startup’s team. A percentage of this fee goes to the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation.
Not the only one: Minly is not the only startup in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region looking to capitalise on the creator industry. Others include Starzly, Halahi, and Starprise, all in the celebrity shout marketplace in the MENA region.
What’s the big idea? If you are like me and wondering why this is a thing, these numbers will interest you. Since launching last year, Minly has more than 50,000 users. Add to that the fact that the creator economy market has surpassed $100 billion in value this year, and the picture becomes clearer.
You might also remember the viral Twitter video made via Cameo by Originals star Joseph Morgan.
Egyptian startups on fire: Recently, the North African country has enjoyed an avalanche of funding. In the last three months, we’ve seen Fatura, Homzmart, MoneyHash, Mozare3, Bosta, Telda, and Koinz making big money moves.
According to fDi’s African Tech Ecosystem of the Future 2021/2022 ranking, Egypt places 3rd overall but has the best Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) strategy. Certainly, the country’s space is one to watch.
Google will start warning you when search results are unreliable
In a blog post, Danny Sullivan, Public Liaison for Search at Google, revealed the company’s newest feature for search results. A warning notice will now appear, indicating that sources for a particular news topic might be unreliable.
Essentially, where information is constantly changing, and a range of sources haven’t weighed in, the notice will appear, telling users to check back later when there might be a more balanced number of sources.
The feature was first noticed by Stanford Internet Observatory researcher, Renee DiResta, who described it as a “positive step.”
For now, it will only be available in English and to users in the US. Shocker!
While the company has not specified the exact range of sources it would consider, it said, “we’ve trained our systems to detect when a topic is rapidly evolving, and a range of sources hasn’t yet weighed in.”
Taking a closer look, Google has long been criticised for allowing unreliable sources and conspiracy theories on rapidly evolving news to float to the top of search results — a challenge Twitter and Facebook are familiar with.
While all of this is laudable, especially in the fight against misinformation, it also raises issues of censorship of alternative media outlets.
I wonder if this might be an antitrust lawsuit in the making.
Celebrating World MSME Day
In Nigeria, the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises sector has contributed up to 50% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the last five years, providing up to 80% of jobs.
On a global scale, the United Nations (UN) also records that MSMEs account for 90% of businesses across the globe and provide 60-70% of employment.
Impressive statistics surely, but as with every sector, it was dealt severe blows by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In celebration of World MSME Day, Techpoint Africa had a chat with some of these heroic owners concerning technology’s impact on their businesses and how to determine a way forward.
Don’t sleep on Emmanuel’s story. Check it out here: Policies, technology and Nigerian MSMEs’ battle for survival in a pandemic
Last week on Techpoint Africa
- How technology is helping this AC technician scale his business. Read
- The unique case of Africans with learning disabilities and assistive technology
- MTN plans to invest $1.5 billion to boost broadband access in Nigeria
- Trying clothes online, virtual store attendants, Facebook plans to overhaul eCommerce. Read
- What you need to know as Malawi gets the world’s first 3D-printed school
What else I’m reading
- The clever folds that kept letters secret. Read
- Kanye West Is One Step Closer to Becoming the ‘Steve Jobs of Gap. Read
- How an “unqualified” 27-year-old Zimbabwean teacher created a top tutoring academy on WhatsApp. Read
Have a splendid week ahead!