Pan-African data and financial startup, Stears, has completed its seed funding round, raising $3.3 million from series of investors.
The seed round had leading investments from MaC Venture Capital. Further participations came from Serena Ventures, Melo 7 Tech Partners, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund and Cascador.
Stears was founded in 2017 by Michael Famoroti, Bode Ogunlana, Abdul Abdulrahim, and Preston Ideh. The founders, who were graduate students at London School of Business, and the University of Oxford at the time, decided to found the startup after they discovered a tasking problem attached to getting data from Nigeria.
Since founding, Stears has transitioned from being a free-to-read media publication focused on financial information and data analysis to being a data and intelligence company, and it has been serving multinational corporations.
Stears said it is focused on converting African data into searchable information, and it is doing that by focusing on three things that have not been done in the African market before:
- Identifying all existing sources of data.
- Designing a shared language to understand all the data; and
- Combining public and proprietary datasets to create new views of African markets.
“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. […] 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 We are executing an African version of this model, focused on the often missing, outdated or poorly digitised African datasets needed by operators, finance and policy professionals, researchers and even regulators,” CEO, Preston Ideh, said.
After its transition from a media company, Stears launched Stears Insights, which is its subscription-based flagship product. Stears Insights was formerly known as Stears Business, a site that offers in-depth insight for finance professionals, using information gathered from both proprietary and publicly available data.
“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.”
Piggybacking on the newly raised fund, Stears said it will hire data scientists, data analysts, and sector analysts. It will also use the funds to back its intention to expand into other African countries.
“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,” COO and data scientist, Abdul Abdulrahim, said.
Speaking on Stears’ operations, Marlon Nichols, co-founder and managing general partner at MaC Venture Capital, said:
“Africa is home to the first humans and is now the next frontier for business. 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.”
Also commenting on the fundraise, Serena Williams, founder and managing general partner at Serena Ventures, said:
“Better and more transparent business and financial data is expected to lead to more investment in the African continent. Stears has shown a deep appreciation of the complexities involved in solving this problem for global professionals. Through a combination of technology and data, Stears is well placed to leverage the massive data opportunity on the continent.”
Since it began operations, Stears has raised about $4 million, with $650k raised in its pre-seed round in 2020. The startup also received up to $100,000 in non-dilutive funding after it was selected for the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, 2022 cohort.