Kukua, a Nairobi- and London-based academic leisure firm and the creators of “Super Sema,” the primary African animated superhero franchise, has raised $6 million in its newest spherical of funding.
Tencent, which made its first African edtech wager in Nigeria’s uLesson final December, co-led this Collection A spherical with Italy-based VC Alchimia. Different traders embody EchoVC, firstminute Capital and Auxxo Feminine Catalyst.
Kukua says the funding will assist its purpose to proceed constructing an IP-centric youngsters’ “edutainment” universe with new Tremendous Sema unique content material, licensing, merchandise and publishing choices.
Lucrezia Bisignani based Kukua in 2018, however it wasn’t till three years later that the staff put out the primary model of Tremendous Sema. The concept to create an animated superhero franchise for youths, particularly these in Africa, was as a result of there was an absence of such exhibits, co-founder and CEO Bisignani instructed Nob6 on a name.
“After I began this, we noticed there have been no African characters, and only a few that have been simply Black,” she mentioned. So, we thought this was a much-needed house, not just for youngsters in Africa however globally. It’s for youths to really feel represented and to develop up with cartoons that aren’t solely white but additionally to grasp completely different cultures and themes.”
Although white and raised in Italy, Bisignani travelled extensively in Africa when she was younger. She visited most nations on the continent along with her dad and mom and cultivated a “international mindset and appreciation for every little thing” that was completely different from her and her upbringing.
Regardless of her background and demand for such content material, securing funding for Kukua’s first venture wasn’t straightforward as traders have been unconvinced of its international enchantment. Till “Black Panther.” The film was launched to business and demanding acclaim in 2018, and its success helped related initiatives like Kukua safe investments. The corporate raised $2.5 million seed from Africa-focused enterprise capital agency EchoVC and different traders that yr.
“We’ve all the time seen our target market as international. We needed this to be a mega success in Africa and the remainder of the world. So equally to ‘Black Panther,’ which attracted essentially the most various viewers ever for being an all-African story and forged, our mission is admittedly on each fronts,” the CEO mentioned. “We need to showcase the sweetness and a special narrative coming from Africa to the remainder of the world. And naturally, for all the youngsters right here within the continent to see themselves represented.”
Tremendous Sema is the story of a 10-year-old African lady — a superhero — with the powers of creativity, willpower and staff expertise. She makes use of science, tech, engineering, arts and math to create innovations from her secret lab to battle this evil robotic villain — her city’s ruler — and his minions.
Bisignani mentioned the present was made to “empower” a era of youngsters to have constructive feminine African position fashions and “encourage” them with staff expertise by making a enjoyable, thrilling sequence that creates an avenue for STEAM studying.
The Kukua staff
YouTube picked up Tremendous Sema’s first season, acquired its distribution rights and launched the sequence on its YouTube Originals channel in March 2021. It was a relentless hit. Since its launch, Tremendous Sema’s YouTube Channel has attracted greater than 40 million views. The present — govt produced by Lupita Nyong’o — obtained an NAACP Picture Awards nomination for Excellent Animated Collection this January. The Oscar-winning actress can also be a shareholder within the firm. Different members of the Tremendous Sema staff embody COO Vanessa Ford, CFO Giovanni Bisignani and four-times BAFTA winner Claudia Lloyd (producer and artistic director).
The present’s second season was greenlit by YouTube Originals and has premiered this month. Tremendous Sema’s target market is between the ages of 4 to eight, and being on YouTube Originals, 60% of its viewers comes from the U.S. The U.Okay. and Kenya spherical up the highest three nations the place Tremendous Sema is most watched. Along with being on YouTube Originals, Tremendous Sema additionally airs on main linear TV networks in Africa, like Citizen TV in Kenya and SABC in South Africa. Bisignani mentioned the corporate is getting extra rights to air the present on extra TV stations throughout the continent.
Based on Bisignani, Kukua has some strategies to make the present extra interactive in its pipeline. Quick plans embody launching a U.S. toy line within the fall with toy firm Simply Play and “Let’s Technovate with Tremendous Sema,” a companion vlog sequence with actual science and DIY experiments youngsters can do at residence scheduled to premiere in 2022. Kukua additionally plans to broaden Tremendous Sema’s North American Publishing and Licensing program with the signing of Penguin Random Home, Bendon and Bentex, class leaders in publishing and attire.
Nevertheless, an upcoming model may see Kukua take Tremendous Sema to the metaverse. “One of many objectives is to have youngsters enter Tremendous Sema story world and try this in a Roblox expertise, someplace they will simply go from on-line to offline and repeatedly play and be taught with their favorite characters on this very participating story world,” Bisignani mentioned. “We need to be the Disney of studying and leverage all the most recent media and applied sciences to create participating experiences for our customers.”
To this impact, the corporate appointed Matthew Ball — a enterprise accomplice at Makers Fund, the world’s largest gaming enterprise fund by AUM — to its board. The corporate mentioned Ball’s assist will likely be crucial because it expands its Tremendous Sema IP and story world into interactive and immersive academic experiences for youths.
Talking on the funding, Paolo Barletta, accomplice at Alchimia, mentioned, “Kukua is a kind of firms on this planet that everybody desires to see succeed. We’ve been a part of their development journey from the primary day and are thrilled to proceed to assist their world-class staff, impressed by the constructive influence we will have on a complete era of youngsters.”