Zacu TV, a local Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD) platform was one of the local IT startups that pitched their projects at the just-concluded Transform Africa Summit (TAS 2019) in Kigali and the pitch was not in vain.
In its 5th edition, the four day gathering drew over 4,000 delegates, including Heads of State and Government, UN Broadband Commissioners, Ministers, Regulators, Mayors and Governors, Young Innovators, Investors and Entrepreneurs, among others.
The theme for this year was: Boosting Africa’s Digital Economy.
In addition to the Smart Africa Leaders Summit, Smart Africa Women’s Summit and interactive plenary sessions, the summit also featured subject-specific discussions on current ICT topics.
On Day 2 of the conference, Zacu TV made it to the top two projects in the Face The Gorillas session, where entrepreneurs present their projects before a panel of investors. A total of six projects were presented, from countries as diverse as Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Djibouti, and the DRC.
The two winning projects were each awarded Entrepreneurship Training scholarships in Isreal in June this year. The announcement of the scholarships was made by the Israeli Embassy in Kigali.
The other winner was ikizamini.com, a local web based portal that provides free content for people intending to take up driving lessons.
Following the win, the Rwanda ICT Chamber posted a congratulatory tweet for the winners:
“Congratulations to @zacutvrwanda and ikizamini.com for making it to the top two entrepreneurs during Face the Gorillas Pitching in TAS2019,” read the tweet.
“At Face The Gorillas, the panel was basically made up of investors who are ready to invest in good promising businesses. They listened to us as young entrepreneurs, to see the most viable projects and fund them. So pitching there was mainly targeting their investment, whether monetary or advice, equipment or anything that we might need,” explained Ingabire Lillian, the Chief Operations Officer of Zacu TV:
“In the end I made a request for $ 500,000, which would be worth 20% equity of Zacu TV.”
Following Ingabire’s impressive pitch, Nyagahene Eugene, the owner of Tele10 Group (TV10, Canal Plus, DSTv), was the first among the panel of investors to express interest in doing business with Zacu TV.
“It was a big move on our part, because we were not selling them (investors) just an idea, but something that exists, only lacking a little bit,” Ingabire explained.
Zacu TV is accessible through online subscription, in the same way as popular video streaming portals like Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu Plus.
According to Nelly Wilson Misago, the founder and Managing Director of Zacu TV, the platform currently boasts over 7,000 subscribers, 500 of who are paid. This is in just four months of its operations.
The platform is accessible in over 85 countries across the globe, with more than 1,000 videos available to subscribers.
Misago further disclosed that the biggest subscriber base is located in the US, Rwanda, Canada, Belgium, and the Netherlands, in that order.
Content on Zacu TV ranges from movies, TV series, to documentaries.
“Drama series are the most popular, and about 60 percent of our content in Rwandan, followed by feature films from Tanzania,” Misago revealed.
Among the most popular local content are TV series like Seburikoko, City Maid, and Samantha.
“Four months ago we launched online to test and see if it would work. At Transform Africa Summit we launched officially because the platform was already available for use on different online platforms. To launch at TAS is a big achievement because many delegates and potential investors were in attendance. We went to the ICT chamber and they gave s the opportunity to pitch during the Face The Gorillas session.”
Presently, the platform offers different packages like Basic, Standard, and Premium.
Payment options include Visa Card, MTN Mobile Money, and Paypal.
Ever since its soft launch four months ago, the company has engaged several local video content producers as a new market for their content. Zacu TV buys licenses from the producers and posts them on its platform.
Asked what inspired the idea for Zacu TV, Misago explained:
“For the past years, In Rwanda and elsewhere in Africa, there is a common challenge of CD piracy in the industry. There are also many Africans outside their own countries in need of African content; stories they can relate to. But where can they get them from when they need them?”
Misago is the Producer of award-winning local TV series like Seburikoko, City Maid, and Inshuti (Friends), among a myriad cinema projects he has handled.
“I believe that this platform will help film producers, not just in Rwanda but across the continent, because the challenges they encounter are the same, including the lack of a bigger market. Zacu TV will continue to buy a variety of films from producers and post them on the platform. As professionals in cinema I believe this is the best time to share and capture our African stories, because no one will tell our stories better than we do.”
The startup recently moved from its previous location in Downtown Kigali to its new address at the ICT Innovation Center, located on the campus of the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC) in Kicukiro District, Kigali.
It has ten permanent employees at the office, although it works with several local video content makers on part time and freelance terms.