Brian Asingia and Franco Abbot are building what has been dubbed the Disney of Africa. Their DreamAfrica is a digital storytelling platform and offers entertaining and educational family friendly storybooks, audiobooks, music and video/animations.
The U.S. based company (Delaware, New York, and New Jersey) focuses on feeling a void in entertainment for children and families in Africa. The two cofounders met at Lafayette College. Former Wall Street analyst Brian Asingia, a Ugandan, and Franco Abbot, a Kenyan American and a former Senior Project Software Engineer at Lutron Electronics, formed the company in 2012. In April 2013, the pair incorporated The Pearl Dream, and by December the same year the beta version of DreamAfrica app was available in the App Store, Apple Inc.s digital distribution platform for mobile apps on iOS, and Google Play, Google Inc.s platform.
A subscription to DreamAfrica, which is currently self-funded by the founders and which also received a $10,000 investment from Nigerian billionaire Tony Elumelu, is $5.99/per month and $54.99/per year; for a students, its $3 per year. There is a net revenue share split with authors after the user pays and for the content creator network, there is a 20 percent fee per project/job created in its referral network. DreamAfrica Digital Ltd is wholly-owned by the co-founders through the U.S. holding company of which the advisory board and team are also shareholders.
Currently, there are no outside no external shareholders or investors. The company has eight advisors: Javan Okello, Kenya; Isaac Opoku, Ghana; Dick Muyambi, Uganda; as well other being recruited for focus areas such as Brazil, Nigeria, and the UK.
Brian Asingia told TNJ.com about his dreams for DreamAfrica.
TNJ.com: How did you come up with the idea for DreamAfrica?
Brian Asingia: The general underrepresentation of African and multilingual identities in digital media. I decided to leverage my technology and business skills and passion for storytelling to create DreamAfrica as a marketplace and home for stories that bring you to Africa.
TNJ.com: When did the company start?
B.A.: In April 2013, the Pearl Dream, Inc. was initiated in NYC, USA as DreamAfricas global office and 3 years later in April 2016 the company was incorporated in Nairobi, Kenya as DreamAfrica Digital Media Ltd. and this is where its Africa office is hosted.
TNJ.com: How did you fund the startup?
B.A.: It is self-funded by us and by grants, convertible debt and strategic partnerships. We now have partnerships and sponsors like South African airlines that help with customer engagement and look towards subscription revenue to sustain the business.
TNJ.com: For someone who has never heard of DreamAfrica, how would you describe it?
B.A.: Home to multilingual and multicultural multimedia experiences like storybooks, audiobooks and animations.
TNJ.com: What are your goals for the company in 2016?
B.A.: To engage government and global policy institutions to provide industry leadership around IP Policy reform, education and enforcement in Africa; reduce piracy and strengthen the digital economy; look to hire African Tech/Literature interns from local colleges to act as DreamAfrica Fellows, our regional sales representatives in partnership with FinTech and job creation partners; attain 10 paying schools and 1,000 family subscribers in America and each of the European and African continents. This should be doubled in Q4 to make us reach our 30 paying schools and 10,000 subscribers ($549,900) target; streamline analytics and dashboards for daily, weekly, monthly and annual KPIs.
TNJ.com: What are your long-term goals?
B.A.: To create a series of platforms and apps for different age groups including teens and adults in addition to families; grow in-house content production of DreamAfrica owned original series; and scale into curriculum-based educational content.
TNJ.com: What has been the most challenging aspect of growing your business?
B.A.: Untrained talent/talent development. Most people have yet to understand the concept of equity-based compensation and the need for long-term value creation initiatives.
TNJ.com: What do you like the most about what you do?
B.A.: Creating opportunity for the under-represented, through employment, monetization and education.