Watch Africa Now: Justin Beekye
Watch Africa Now is a subscription-based streaming service, championing video content from creators in Africa
Name of founder: Justin Beekye
Location: Essex, United Kingdom
Date launched: 6 September 2020
Number of employees: 4
Age of founder: 36
What university, if any, did you attend? University of Greenwich
Founder Justin Beekye drew upon a life-long interest in African films to launch Watch Africa Now, a streaming service that offers a range of films and video media from content creators across Africa. Read on to learn more about the startup process…
Tell us what your business does:
Watch Africa Now (WAN) is a UK-based SVOD streaming service that has emerged as the beacon of hope for video content creators across the 54 countries in Africa.
The streaming service launched on 6 September 2020. It champions independent short and feature films, documentaries, children’s programming, music, and more, from award-winning and up-and-coming creators in Africa.
Where did the idea of your business come from?
Growing up, my parents introduced African films to me and my siblings from a young age. It was the highlight of our family entertainment. I grew up with this interest and decided to develop a platform of my own to share this interest with others. I soon discovered that outside Nollywood, there weren’t many films representing the wider countries of Africa.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Over the past few years, YouTube has seen a wave of content creators streaming in from Africa. However, not all have had the opportunity to experience success through their channels, in terms of views and followings.
Another issue faced is the set up for advertising revenue, with the ad interruptions on those videos that have become popular. Many have also had their films screened at film festivals before entering their archive folders with limited exposure.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was working in a law firm in the City.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Running my own business has always been a dream of mine; I knew one day it would become a reality!
Though in full-time employment, I’ve always been involved in business startups and new projects but have never really committed until now.
How did you raise the money?
I invested my savings.
Describe your business model and how you make money.
Watch Africa Now is a subscription-based service that currently offers a 14-day free trial, after which a monthly fee of £4.51, or an annual fee of £37.62, applies.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
The three major challenges were:
• Sourcing an over-the-top (OTT) media service provider that is best suited for the Watch Africa Now streaming requirements in terms of support, features, rates, geographical distribution areas etc
• Getting the buy-ins of content creators prior to the launch of the platform. This was resolved through networking via Instagram
• The platform design and catalogue labelling, as this was outside the OTT service and had to be done single-handedly in-house
What was your first big breakthrough?
Within a couple of days of launching, Watch Africa Now was featured in the Sahara Weekly press (a popular newspaper in Nigeria), alongside Amazon Prime, for both premiering Nigeria’s multiple award-winning animation series, Turtle Taido. From there, we have been getting a good level of media coverage and interest.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
My advice would be to discover a business that ignites your passion.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Become a major player amongst the biggest names in the streaming industry. In order to achieve this goal, the following will need to be met:
• Raising the awareness for the brand and service globally, targeting the African diaspora
• App development, as the platform is currently accessible on desktop, smart TV and mobile devices
• Develop more distribution partnerships with production companies across the 54 countries in Africa
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