Stears raises $3.3 million Seed to build African data company

Stears, a subscription-based financial data and intelligence company, announces its $3.3 million Seed round. The round was led by MaC Venture Capital with participation from Serena Ventures, Omidyar's Luminate Fund and others.

Stears Team
Stears Team

Stears, a pan-African data and intelligence company, has closed a seed round of $3.3m led by MaC Venture Capital with participation from Serena Ventures, Melo 7 Tech Partners, Omidyar Group’s Luminate Fund, Cascador and Hoaq Club. Stears was also recently accepted into the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund 2022 cohort, which included some non-dilutive funding. Stears plans to use this investment to enhance its data collection and analytics capabilities, talent acquisition and expansion to East and Southern Africa.

Stears is a financial data and intelligence company providing subscription-based data and insight to global businesses and professionals. Stears’ customers can make intelligent decisions about African economies and markets by leveraging publicly available macroeconomic and financial data, its proprietary datasets and Stears’ deep analytical expertise.

"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," explains Preston Ideh, Stears CEO.

"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 We are executing an African version of this model, focused on the often missing, outdated or poorly digitised African datasets needed by operators, finance and policy professionals, researchers and even regulators."

To convert African data into searchable information, Stears is focused on three things that haven’t been done in the African market before: firstly, identifying all existing sources of data; secondly, designing a shared language to understand all the data; and thirdly, combining public and proprietary datasets to create new views of African markets.

Stears digital products—Stears Business and Stears Data

To date, Stears’ flagship product has been a subscription insights product which has become a trusted source of insight into the Nigerian market. Originally built as a consumer product, the company has seen uptake with financial institutions like Sterling Bank, Vetiva Investment Bank and Sparkle, fintechs like Piggyvest & Paystack and some of the most prominent global institutions in Africa, including the United Nations Development Programme, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office and the European Investment Bank.

"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. 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," says COO and data scientist Abdul Abdulrahim.

"Africa is home to the first humans and is now the next frontier for business," said Marlon Nichols, co-founder and managing general partner at MaC Venture Capital. “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."

Serena Williams, founder and managing general partner at Serena Ventures, adds: "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."

Stears started as a response to the lack of data-driven insights on the African continent. It came to life after the four founders, Michael Famoroti, an economist; Bode Ogunlana, a software engineer; Abdul Abdulrahim, a data scientist and Preston Ideh, graduates of the London School of Economics and the University of Oxford, decided to team up and start an insights company focused on Nigeria. The multidisciplinary backgrounds of the founders made it easy to work with different kinds of datasets, and the startup evolved into a data and intelligence company.

In 2019, the team built Nigeria’s first real-time election database, which over 2 million Nigerians used to monitor the general elections. In 2020, they raised pre-seed funding of $650,000, making the total amount raised to date $4 million. In November 2022, Stears plans to relaunch the election data site, in anticipation of Nigeria’s 2023 elections.

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