Startup World Cup has announced Publiseer as the winner of the Nigeria regional competition.

Unlike the Olympics and FIFA World Cup which happens every four years, Startup World Cup (SWC)–a series of pitch contests organised by Fenox Venture Capital–happens every year, since it started in 2017.

Publiseer, a digital publishing platform founded by (identical) twins–Chidi and Chika Nwaogwu– in 2017, will be representing Nigeria at the Grand Finale of the 2019 SWC on May 17 in San Francisco, United States. They will be competing for the $1 million (investment) grand prize.

Publiseer triumphed over nine other startups that participated in the Nigeria regional finals of the SWC. The event which held at Civic Hive, Yaba on Saturday, February 9 was organised by Passion Incubator, the exclusive regional partner for the competition. Passion Incubator made a live tweet of the event and subsequently released an official statement where they declared the winner as Publiseer.

Publiseer to represent Nigeria at the 2019 SWC Grand Finale

Now in its third year, no Nigerian startup has participated in the previous editions of the SWC. This is because the coverage of the SWC was limited. The 2017 SWC featured startups from only 15 countries and slightly increased by 10 countries in 2018. The lack of a regional partner in Nigeria could also be another reason no Nigerian startup was among the regional finalists at the last two SWC finals.  Thus, Publiseer will be making history at the 2019 SWC Grand Finale, thanks to Passion Incubator.

The Masonic San Francisco seating chart, venue of SWC 2019 grand finale

Three African startups, however, have participated in the last two SWC finals. Delvv.io, a South African startup providing brand and refinement solutions, was a regional finalist in 2017. In 2018, Empty Trips (South Africa) and KWHCoin (Kenya) were among the 28 regional finalists.

What you need to know about the Startup World Cup

Fenox Venture Capital (FVC)—a Silicon Valley-based VC firm—organises the Startup World Cup with the aim of providing innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities for the global startup ecosystem. SWC features startup conferences, workshops and networking parties which convene venture capitalists, and world-class tech CEOs.

Founded by Anis Uzzaman in 2011, Fenox Venture Capital focuses its investment in information technology, health tech, artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT), robotics, big data, virtual reality, augmented reality, fintech and next-generation technologies. Fenox VC has invested in over 120 startups across Europe, Asia and North America. Some of the companies they have invested in include Jibo, Genius, Meta, Affectiva, MindMeld, Color Genomics Afero and x.ai.

In 2017, UniFa—a Japanese startup that makes IoT solutions for tracking physical and mental growth of kindergarten children, won the Startup World Cup. While Open Bionics (UK) and Ahlijasa (Indonesia) emerged second and third, respectively. Open Bionics is a prosthetics company making low-cost bionic hands, while Ahlijasa empowers laundry business in Indonesia with complete laundry-focused enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

The 2018 SWC champion was Leuko Labs from U.S. East Coast. Leuko Labs, which emanated from an MIT project, develops a non-invasive white blood cell level monitor for the home-based screening of high-risk of infection in chemotherapy patients.

The Startup World Cup's Judges and Speakers

The judges and speakers at the SWC Grand Finals have remained relatively unchanged.

Specifically, the 2018 SWC panel of investor-judges included Geoff Ralston of Y Combinator, Ashley Carroll of Social Capital, Adeo Ressi of the Founder Institute, Nina Achadijian from Index Ventures, Sanjit Dang from Intel Capital, and Alireza Masrour from Plug and Play.

In 2017, the panel of judges included Kevin Hale of Y Combinator, Edith Yeung of 500 Startups, Tim Draper of DFJ, David Cohen of Techstars, Eric Feng of KPCB, Alizera Masrour of Plug & Play Ventures and Lisa Suennen of GE Ventures.

Does Publiseer stand a chance at the Startup World Cup Final?

On Friday, May 17, Publiseer will be contending with other regional finalists from Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Asia. The digital publishing firm is not new to pitching and winning laurels. In 2018, Publiseer was one of the finalists at the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition (HBS NVC) and it was also named as one of the Next 100 African Startups by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

On Wednesday, February 13, Chidi Nwaogu, Co-founder and CEO of Publiseer, announced that they have been selected to participate in the demo day of Startup Turkey 100. According to the report, 120,000 startups from 150 countries applied for the program but “only one per cent is approved to join the Startup Turkey full program on April 26-29 in Istanbul. Publiseer is one of them.”

With many laurels under its belt (and many more to come), Publiseer Digital Publishing stands a chance at the SWC Final. It is a company with great potentials.

Chidi Nwaogu

Speaking on why they keep winning, Chidi Nwaogu, CEO of Publiseer tells Benjamin Dada that "they are solving for need and not a want...", thereby making their story more compelling.

Publiseer helps African authors and artists publish their works across platforms.

Unlike its competitors who charge a fee before publishing, Publiseer publishes for free and also provide a robust publishing package that includes cover art, free ISBN/UPC Number, free formatting/mastering, and press release drafting and distribution Publiseer has helped authors and artists sell their books and songs on over 400 stores across 100 countries. These stores include Amazon, Google Play Store, Apple Store and iTunes.

The foreseeable future for them involves the world of film-making, helping to distribute and monetize content in that space.


Update, 11:30 AM WAT, February 15: An earlier version of this article referred to Publiseer as "free", we decided against that word because its "free-ness" is dependent on whether or not you have the money to pay upfront.

8:08 PM—If you have the money to pay for the publishing upfront, then you keep your entire revenue. However, if you don’t have the money to pay, then they "publish for free" and later share in the revenue generated from sales.