South African gaming startup Carry1st has raised $27 million in a pre-Series B round with backing from top-tier Web3 and gaming funds. Participation in this financing round came from lead investors Bitkraft Ventures, a16z, TTV Capital, Alumni Ventures, Lateral Frontiers VC and Kepple Ventures.
Carry1st was established in 2018. It publishes games and interactive content across the African region. Its seed investment had participated by Google through the African Investment fund and Avenir Growth Capital.
CEO and Co-Founder Cordel Robbin-Coker said “We now have, in our minds, the three best funds that focus on gaming and web3. And so it just adds even more resources, perspective and assistance to help us achieve our goals.”
Carry1st signed a partnership with video game developer Riot Games in 2022. The strategic partnership was further strengthened this year when Carry1st started to accept payments for Riot Games in the African region though Pay1st, the payments platform to accept third party transactions.
Licensing of third party games
Carry1st produce and publish games at scale and license third party games. The embedded digital commerce platform brings in revenue using innovative technology. “We figured that we may as well leverage the opportunity to partner with awesome big game companies that maybe aren’t yet ready to license their games to us fully but would like to make more money in the region and understand how profitable Africa can be for them.”
Over the last year, Carry1st has reported significant growth. Revenues grew by ten times in 2022 through its online marketplace which allows customers to purchase more than 100 virtual products using a variety of payment methods that include bank transfers, crypto and mobile money.
“What we found, particularly in countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco, was that there was a massive appetite for digital content, especially with the ability to pay for it with local payment methods and, more importantly, in local currency, which is unique or unusual because most of the online purchases are denominated in dollars,” said Robbin-Coker.
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