Welcome to this week’s edition of the RoundUp. This week, quite a lot happened despite the lockdown in place. We looked at Okra’s $1m funding despite its young age as a business. Perhaps, its business model is overwhelmingly compelling with a large market size.
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- The Square, a possible alternative to Zoom and other videoconferencing apps has now gone beyond ideation stage. It seeks to bring a human feel to telecommuting. It uses four cameras that combine to form a 3D version of the user. The technology has a gaze tracker and shifts perspective accordingly. After development, it could sell between the $500-$1000 range. With an ability to blend into three frames, it gives a meeting feel. It becomes competitive when we consider it could setup with a chat view for large groups. Link
Why this is important : Seeing that Zoom lost about ~9% of its stock price hours after Facebook and Google launched competing features, an acquisition of this product could be Zoom’s silver bullet down the line. Looking at it differently, Facebook has not hidden its unbridled thirst for growth, we may see a bidding race to buy this company. Perhaps, in order to lead that segment once again having lost it with Skype, Microsoft may acquire it before the others.
One of the perks of Work From Home is the flexibility it affords team members to be informally dressed and a bit relaxed; with a larger screen as Square’s, we may see those perks vanish.
Importantly, a device with four cameras and room for additional ones may ultimately become a data-gathering tool. This becomes a challenge for intending users.
- Okra.ng, a super-connecting website that creates secured portal and processes to exchange financial information between customers, applications and banks has raised $1m from TLcom. Okra makes it easy to access financial records/data in an organized format, seamlessly. It has packages for individuals and corporates. It currently connects to almost all Nigeria’s commercial banking institutions. Link
Why this is important : This could make the work of the Credit Bureau easy seeing that Nigeria has less than 10 of such despite the passage of the Credit Reporting Act of 2017. As Okra scales up, we could witness reduced cases of falsification of data as its services get adopted.
If properly scaled, Okra may impact services like property rents as owners may use the service to reduce exposure against defaults.
- Farmcrowdy, an agriculture crowdfunding platform has launched its fresh foodstuff delivery service, FarmcrowdyFoods. Having grown an impressive network of farmers, this is in fact, coming too late. To an observer of its model, it seems before now, it sold farmers’ produce to wholesale buyers like restaurants and food processors. With this spin-off, it has created and assured a stable market for its farmers. They may have a lot to learn from Kenya’s Twiga Foods. Link.
Why this is important : Covid-19 has undoubtedly disrupted and changed many businesses and their models and with this, e-commerce in Nigeria is strengthened a bit more while looking attractive once again beyond electronics and other personal items.
Food storage and security problems may no long be a problem for the platform and its farmers as the new business would create a level of demand for produce.
- Payment processing company Flutterwave, has launched its Store product targeting anyone looking to sell online. Store is aimed to make the process of uploading, price-setting and delivery as easy as possible with few clicks of the button. With this service, vendors now have procurement and marketing to deal with. Link
Why this is important : Covid-19 is giving vendors access to a larger market via the internet. The Store would reduce barrier to access to the market on the internet like website development, maintenance, domain and hosting costs. For the government, this initiative brings these merchants closer to the tax net with the right incentives.
Importantly, this is a cost-effective marketing and onboarding move by Flutterwave.
- Facebook has announced plans for paid Livestreams for musicians and other content creators. Covid-19 continues changing products and segments with no end in sight. This could be a subtle move to lure away creators especially on Tiktok, which continues to grow especially during this pandemic. Link
Why this is important : Facebook the company, is now looking inward to its assets to fight anyone it can’t acquire or outrightly crush. We would likely see acquisitions targeting growing competitions or tweaks to its products in preparation for fierce competition. Monetising livestreams may be a precursor to floating a streaming platform or its variant like Cameo.
MTN Nigeria recorded a 59% rise in its Q1 data revenue. Link
Lyft, Uber’s main rival in the US is laying off 17% of its workforce. Link