In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a growing trend of creators adopting digital and , not just as a supplement to their media presence but also as a cornerstone of their brand. The pandemic has indeed accelerated trends. Many famous artists and figures have postponed events, using social media to carry out these activities and engage their fans. Proliferating through Western and Far East markets, the creator economy bug, which has made platforms like Cameo and Patreon unicorns, is beginning to take center stage in MENA.
Mainly, an Egypt-based creator economy platform is announcing that it has closed a $3.6 million to allow stars across the MENA region to create authentic, personalized connections with their fans.
The round, which Mainly says it was oversubscribed, was co-led by 4DX Ventures, B&Y , and Global Ventures. It like Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects, and Jason Finger, co-founder of Seamless and GrubHub.
spent viewing social media surpassed time spent viewing TV within the MENA region. But one shortcoming with is that its content often feels mass-produced. When creators make posts, void of personalization. This dilutes the fan experience and limits the extent and number of ways the creator can monetize.
Mainly founded last year by , Tarek Hosny, Tarek ElGanainy, Ahmed Abbas, and Bassel El-Touchy comes in. It provides tools for creators to craft ‘authentic connections’ with their superfans and audience at scale. “In short, our goal is to eventually deliver tens of millions of unique, unforgettable experiences to fans each year,” El-Shinnawy told TechCrunch.
Shinnawy, who brings more than 15 years of media and Technology experience, is the chief technology officer at Mainly. He sold his first company, , to a U.S.-based . He has also delivered work for Hollywood’s top studios, such as Sony Pictures, Universal, Disney, Fox, and Warner Brothers, while playing a role in the global expansion of , Disney+, and Netflix to the MENA region.
Mainly has experienced rapid growth since launching late . It has over 50,000 users and an impressive list of famous regional celebrities ranging from actors and athletes like Fifi Abdou and Mahmoud Trezeguet to musicians and influencers like Assala Nasri and Tamer Hosny.
On the platform, and shoutouts from these celebrities, and they, in turn, connect with their fans on a more personal level.
“We think we have already differentiated ourselves from other in the region. We do this by offering the best catalog of stars and . And our entire team is to grow this gap even further,” said El-Shinnawy on the crop of celebrities Mainly has been onboarded to the platform.
Some of the instances where celebrities connected with their fans mainly include when actress and dancer Fifi Abdou Down syndrome fans and when Egyptian singer Tamer Hosny at two fans’ engagement parties in March.
Mainly takes a small commission on transactions made through its platform. However, most of the transaction price, specifically didn’t disclose, goes directly to creators. And at the same time, it Mainly urges celebrities to automatically donate a portion of their earnings to partner charities on the platform.
Minty’s knack for creating a is why Pan-African VC firm 4DX Ventures invested. The firm’s co-founder and general partner Peter Orth, , said the company is fundamentally changing the relationship between celebrities and fans in the MENA region. “The team has both the ambition and the expertise to build a full-stack that could change how digital content is created and consumed in the region,” he added.
The creator economy market surpassed $100 billion in value this and is still growing at an impressive rate. The pace of content creation will only speed up since surveys suggest that being a YouTuber or TikTokker, or, the most common term, vlogger, is one of the most desirable careers among Gen Zs. VC heavyweights like , Kleiner Partners, and Tiger Global have also heralded this growth considerably, contributing to the more than $2 billion invested in creator economy platforms this year.
In MENA, there’s a vast opportunity for Mainly. The region has over 450 , of which 30% are between 18 to 30. This demographic has a deep connection with , and El-Shinnawy believes MENA will soon contribute to a large part of the total creator economy.
Mainly, the goal is to capture a considerable portion of that spending and become a multibillion-dollar, category-leading company. The has a case to do so. As it stands, the opportunity to build a creator economy one-stop-shop in MENA is enormous compared to other regions that already have multiple entrenched incumbents. Also, Mainly is one of the few platforms in the area with meaningful venture funding.
“The creator economy is in its infancy and growing at lightning speed. We can build this category’s first unicorn in MENA,” the CTO remarked.
With this investment, Mainly is doubling down on building local celebrity acquisition teams in Egypt and other parts across MENA and the GCC, which has seen significant traction. The company will also scale its engineering team to create more products and build a horizontal creator platform.