When you hear, “look within yourselves, Africa!” What comes to mind? Well, it’s undeniable that Africa entails a lot but Africans have failed to have self-confidence from time past.
Amazingly, innovators are rising to ensure there is a complete turnaround in this aspect and Kayode Adebayo, CEO at Ckrowd is one of them.
Ckrowd is a technology created to help African content creators in the information, education and entertainment industries, monetise their videos.
How it all started
It is undeniable that Africa has birthed lots of commendable creatives in various sectors. Adebayo and his team are bridging the gap between these creatives and the accolades they deserve for their amazing works.
“We noticed that in the digital space, African content creators particularly, were getting the short end of the stick especially when it comes to being able to generate revenue from their contents.”
Laying emphasis, these contents are information about Africa which ranges from entertainment to education, media, advertising and so on.
“What we decided to do was look at the situation and create technology that stands in parallel to the technology that comes from the west.”
“If I’m to ask you how many African content creators you know that have gotten a Youtube cheque for all the hard work that they’ve been putting on YouTube, the answer would most likely be none. That’s the situation.”
How Ckrowd works
Adebayo and his team decided to create a video monetisation platform to solve this problem. Describing the platform, he said: “It’s just like having an arena in the cloud and what that does is that the technology helps you to gate the contents.”
“If you’re the content creator delivering content in there, whether it is live content or on-demand content, the technology helps you to gate access to that content so you can receive revenue from anyone that wants to access the content.”
Interestingly, Ckrowd serves as an edutech, media-tech and entertainment platform, including an advertising technology (adtech) feature attached to help creators get more reach on their content and generate revenue when users pay to watch.
These content creators do not pay to leverage the Ckrowd services!
“The platform is free for them but what we expect them to do when they come on, is that they create unique content and in turn, attract unique customers so they make their profits.”
“For instance, if you’re releasing a short film on the platform, you create unique experiences around the short film, attracting a particular user or consumer base. Due to the fact that the users know they have to pay or give some form of support to the content creators for engaging the content, they help them generate some form of revenue by making payments.”
Speaking on IP protection, Ckrowd is not a cybersecurity platform but ensures intellectual properties brought to the platform for engagement from consumers are well protected.
Also, revenues generated on the platform are well protected so the artist or content creator can gain access to payouts without the issue of internet or financial theft.
“So intellectual property protected, your revenue is protected and as much as possible, technology also facilitates a lot of intellectual property protection from piracy and all that. There are technologies or features that we have on our platform that makes it very difficult for anyone to pirate content on the platform,” Adebayo noted.
In a nutshell, Ckrowd is focused on ensuring content IPs are well protected and revenue generated for projection or broadcast of content on the platform are well protected.
Broadband penetration access as a limitation to African content creators
“Africa has the most expensive data cost when it comes to accessing the Internet,” Adebayo said.
The continent is home to a large number of content creators, yet, even with the level of colour, refreshing stories and cultural capacity brought to the internet, these creatives are not rewarded as they should, compared to their counterparts in the western part of the world.
“Another thing we found out was that the algorithm of the western platform was not developed with Africans in consideration at the initial level. It was created from scratch with western consumers and users in mind. The moment competition from here and there started to enter and they wanted to get more users for their platform, Africa now became the option for them to be able to go for that,” Adebayo highlighted.
Creating a separate lane for content rewarding than it is with the western platforms
Speaking further, Adebayo said the issue was that the algorithm was not tweaked by the westerners to support the kind of processes that happens in Africa regarding content distribution and how the content is rewarded.
“So you find it’s like you’re on a lane with somebody that already has far more advantages than you and you’re supposed to run the same race, get the same medal and be accorded the same kind of respect. It doesn’t work that way.”
Ckrowd makes it possible for African content creators to get rewarded on the basis of how things are in Africa and not be compared to Europeans who already has a lot of other advantages especially in the volume of people who can access the internet at the same time, and the volume of people that are most likely available to consume the contents, especially when data is far cheaper than it is in Africa.
“With Ckrowd, what we did was to break out another belief so that African content creators, for example, who gets 200,000 views for their content, which we all know is huge in Africa, can get rewarded accordingly.”
Adebayo further likened the situation to Africans being on another lane, having their own business model totally different from the western model and being rewarded according to how well they do within their own space and within their own lane rather than being compared and put on the lane of western counterparts. The rewards and accolades should be different.
How do you do what you do?
“Around the time we went live, we had a vendor that was supposed to support us with digital marketing but what we found out was that they were going through some issues financially and somehow, we reached an agreement where we were able to buy over the company.”
The advantage for Ckrowd was the company sitting on a huge database which Adebayo and his team used to build a dedicated marketing engine into Ckrowd.
This allowed users who put their content on the platform, leverage the marketing engine for a very cheap amount of money, get people to know about the content on the platform, making the entire process easier.
Prior to starting Ckrowd, Adebayo has been handling a similar business.
“We’ve been in this business for quite a while, not as a technology company but as a media project company. The company caters to people in the creative industry, music, film, food, fashion, creative arts and technology.”
These people were the first level customers registered on Ckrowd the moment the decision to go in that direction kicked off.
“Our first customers were people that we already had on that particular network. We just landed them on the technology as content partners and that’s how things have been going.”
Reason for Ckrowd
Ckrowd was created out of the pain points on the initial projects.
“We saw how miserable a lot of these content creators were despite the fact that a lot of them were content-rich, they were cash-poor. We decided that if technology can help the situation where their contents can be seen by far more people with a level of reward structure given to them, we think it will work.”
“A Lot of times we hear words of mouth; ‘my content is here, it’s doing well, you should bring your content here too.’ In that way, what we do is we have some form of technical support system that is able to onboard other content creators to the platform and it keeps going.”
Ckrowd’s initial concern is Africa. “It’s two things in one.”
The technology was created with a social message even before a commercial or economic message.
The social message
The social message is to ensure Africans all over the world become connected on a technology platform where they can consume content that has to do with their culture and lifestyle, published by their own people.
“So with that, we break that situation where anything that is the narrative of Africa needs to pass through a western medium before getting out there into the world.”
“We found out that in the process, a lot of information is taken out and a lot of information is added in. Eventually, when it gets to the other side, perceptions and perspectives are altered and that is not how we want to represent Africa.”
“Our platform is to connect Africans within the continent and in the diaspora, which is a high number. These people have been taken away from their culture for a long time and don’t know a lot of things.”
With the technology that allows people have access to information about their culture, reported directly by their own people, there starts to become a refreshed understanding of who we are as a people, what our culture is and everything about us.
“It starts to form a bond; people might start to fly from anywhere they are in the world, coming into Africa to witness those things and bond with the people more. This is totally unlike what the other media situations have been doing for as long as slavery existed.”
That’s the social message this platform starts with before you think of the economic.
The economic message
The economics of it is that those people telling these stories or creating things that forms these connections should be rewarded because they are doing a lot of hard work.
Obviously, Ckrowd is helping a lot of people on the continent but how does the company make revenue?
Responding to this, Adebayo said:
“We are a content marketplace and when you have a market, somehow, you find out that there are activities that happen in there. These activities naturally takes care of the market and it doesn’t own the people selling in the market but somehow, there’s an inbuild.”
70% of the amount generated for contents is paid to the content creators while 30% of that stands as a commission for the platform in the whole process.
“We have different revenue tiers that is modestly priced and more focused on supporting the creatives but we also find ways to maintain the infrastructure and technology for all those interactions to continue with ease while everyone is happy.”
According to Kayode, Ckrowd is the highest payout to any content creator on the African continent which he aims to pitch to the western technologies later on.
Ckrowd to launch soon
“We haven’t launched but we have gone live.”
The reason for going live prior to launching was to see the organic attraction the platform would get within the market. “By the time we see and understand it, it helps us position better for the fresher and newer versions that will come out.”
“For example we started with the 1.0 version, right now we are at 1.2 and by the end of this month or early next month we’d be at 1.4. But the 2.0 version is already being developed right now.”
“Around January, we should be able to launch the 2.0 version and then the mobile app would come after that because right now it’s a website.”
The reason the app wasn’t developed alongside the website was deliberate. “We didn’t want a situation where the message, the product or what we are bringing to the market is burdened together with selling an app.”
The goal was to let the demand drive the development of the app, then, it will be delivered to the market. The growth is organic and not forced unnecessarily.
Ckrowd went live around August this year but before that, almost a year and two months of beta testing was done. “We decided to adequately test the platform to make sure that, from an infrastructure point of view, we would not have an issue with the market and from every part of technology. We have a technology with a fantastic user experience and of course we keep growing with the market because you need to keep growing according to the taste of the users on the platform.”
Funding raised so far
Ckrowd attracted a pre-seed fund around the period it went live and raised a second fund two months ago. “We won an export promotion grant focused around exportation of services outside Africa.”
“We have few investors but we want to make sure we are properly grounded and the business is properly structured and organised before we start to take in those big cheques. With investors, you have to go on a daily basis and have discussions.”
“We believe we will keep attracting investors because what we are doing will help the media, education, marketing and digital advertising industries at the same time.”
One of the earliest challenges faced by Ckrowd was finding the right talent and technology fit for the unique solution brought to the market.
“The second challenge was being able to put together the right team that would understand what we are trying to do and one way or the other understand that we are not putting money first but trying to shift something in the minds of people, disrupt something in the market and be willing to be part of that family and movement that will be written in the sand of time that these guys did this.”
“We want to get Africans to see the value they bring to the world and be willing to place a premium on their value. I think it’s just one of those things. We are very able to overcome those challenges and we see this more as a marathon not just a sprint and we keep growing.”
Africa has around 1.5 billion people on the continent and 200 or 300 million people in the diaspora so we need to grow in self dependency.
“Primarily, we need to sort ourselves in Africa and secondarily if others want to come to the party, we can allow them knock the door, we open the door properly for them, they come in and respect what they see and we interact with a lot of respect. Africa first.”
Conclusively, Adebayo said: “This is where to put your money, this is a very fantastic market for investors, we are sitting down on a lot of intellectual property and we now have the technology to foot properly, broadcast and publish it properly for the world to be able to pay us and enjoy what we bring and investors will enjoy lots of good returns on their investment.”