enterprise

Carry1st raises $6 million to publish mobile games in Africa


Did you miss GamesBeat Summit 2021? Watch on-demand here! 


Carry1st has raised $6 million in funding for its mobile games publishing platform targeted at the untapped potential of the African market.

Africa has around 1.1 billion Millennials and Generation Zs, who are big technology adopters. It’s the fastest-growing region for mobile game downloads, according to mobile insights firm App Annie. And so it’s about time the game venture capital boom came to the continent.

Despite this potential, international and regional studios often find it difficult to profitably serve African consumers due to fragmented and unresolved distribution and digital payments ecosystems. This is a very interesting development to me, as I’ve always wondered how Africa can eventually follow in the footsteps of big countries such as China and India when it comes to the adoption and monetization of mobile games.

Carry1st provides a full publishing solution, handling distribution, localization, user acquisition, marketing, customer experience, and monetization for its partners. Carry1st’s Pay1st
platform is an embedded fintech solution that consolidates popular payment methods in six African countries, allowing customers to pay in their preferred way.

“We essentially just got really inspired by some of the dominant demographic trends on the continent,” said Lucy Hoffman, chief operating officer at Carry1st, in an interview with GamesBeat. “There are over a billion Gen Z and Millennials. Given the influx of cheap smartphones from China, people are coming online for the first time. They’re bypassing laptops, PCs, and consoles and and just going mobile first. And so we thought it was a really interesting opportunity to get involved in the mobile space, as the cost of data is coming down.”

Above: Four of the top six fastest-growing mobile game markets are in Africa.

Image Credit: App Annie

The region’s hot markets include Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya.

Read More   The Latest: Shares dive as Trump tweets rattle investors - Beaumont Enterprise

“All of that growth is organic because nobody’s marketing in these in these markets,” Hoffman said.

Konvoy Ventures, a video game venture capital firm based in Colorado, led the round, with participation from Riot Games (maker of League of Legends), Raine Ventures, Tokyo-based AET Fund / Akatsuki (creators of Dragon Ball Z), and fintech specialist TTV Capital.

Konvoy Ventures managing partner Jackson Vaughan is joining the company’s board. Carry1st will use the funding to secure new partnerships with global gaming studios, launch and scale its existing portfolio of games, and expand its product, engineering, and growth teams. In an email to GamesBeat, Gordon Rubenstein of Raine Ventures said the investment was appealing because of the team, the potential total available market over next 10 years, the fast-growing emerging market, the opportunity to be the leader, and the potential for partnerships to lift the company’s profile.

Hoffman started the company with cofounders Cordel Robbin-Coker, who is CEO, and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu, chief technology officer. In a statement, Robbin-Coker said the company was about to sign seven titles during 2020, and it recruited an international team and built its payments and digital commerce platform. Sweden’s Raketspel, which has had more than 120 million downloads across all its games, is among those who signed up. So have New York’s Cosi Games and Ethiopia’s Qene Games.

Starting out

Above: Carry1st’s Cordell Robbin-Coker (left), Lucy Hoffman, and Tinotenda Mundangepfupfu started the company in 2018.

Image Credit: Carry1st

Since 2018, the company has raised $9.5 million so far.

Carry1st launched a game, Carry1st Trivia, in 2019, and it became the No. 1 Android game Kenya and Nigeria, with more than 1.5 million downloads. But the team found its expertise was more in marketing games by finding alternative ways for gamers to discover games. They studied how influencer marketing worked and learned how critical it was to have local payments solutions. Users don’t have credit cards that are accepted by Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

Read More   State tells Brick council they can't extend property tax grace period 30 days - wobm.com

In early 2020, the company raised a seed round, and now it has built a payments platform that will allow users to pay using local payment methods. That’s similar to the tactics that Krafton and Garena used in Southeast Asia.

“We’re building out a team so going out and recruiting people who come from a free-to-play gaming world and can bring their expertise,” Hoffman said. “No one was doing anything ambitious with content, and so we decided to start with gaming and try to build a really interesting mobile internet company for the region.”

It has 26 employees from 11 countries. Hoffman said about a third of the team is in Capetown, South Africa, and another half dozen are in Nigeria. The rest are spread out throughout the world.

The team includes veterans hailing from Carlyle, King, Jumia, Rovio, Socialpoint, Ubisoft, and Wargaming. In 2020, the company was inducted into the Mastercard Start Path program for the top ten promising fintech businesses globally.

Africa’s potential

Africa's potential in gaming.

Above: Africa’s potential in gaming.

Image Credit: Ericsson, IMF, Population Pyramid

Jackson Vaughan, managing partner at Konvoy Ventures, said in a statement that Carry1st is solving for distribution with its payment infrastructure and it is approaching sub-regions with contextual understanding. Brendan Mulligan, head of corporate development at Riot Games, said in a statement that the number of gamers in Africa is exploding and Carry1st will introduce games to a passionate and important audience.

Monetization is a big challenge in the market, and Hoffman said the company is solving for that with its regional fintech focus. Hoffman said she was excited to have Riot Games on board as an investor. Hoffman said the top six fastest-growing gaming markets in the world in terms of downloads are in Africa, based on App Annie data.

Read More   A sweet mixture of beer and chocolate in Hilliards new Easton candy kitchen - Enterprise News

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

Become a member



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.