Sliide, a start-up that serves targeted sponsored content and advertising to users’ smartphone lock screens, is expanding from its initial market of Nigeria to South Africa, promising users free data for installing its application on their devices.
When a user unlocks their device with the app installed, it provides two “relevant” items of news in a “very light data format”. They are also served an advertisement, with Sliide taking 70% of the revenue, which it then uses to buy bulk data from operators to provide free (albeit limited) Internet access to consumers.
The app tells users how much money they’ve earned. They can press a “cash-out” button to receive airtime, which is then automatically loaded by the network operator partner.
“Users can also load extra airtime, for example through the banks. A bank might want to get their app on everyone’s phone, so it might give users free airtime for downloading it,” explained co-founder and CEO Corbyn Munnik, who describes the app as a “cross between Flipboard and Facebook Free Basics”.
Munnik started Sliide with Frankie Kearney, who develops and manages the technology platform from London. The start-up has also appointed Stephen Carl, a former head of products and services at Vodafone Group, as its chief technology officer. In South Africa, it has appointed former MTNer Edward Wicks as its country manager.
Demand for data among African consumers is enormous, Munnik said. “There’s a correlation between how much data consumers can afford and how sociable they can be,” he said. But many can’t afford to use much data, which is often priced quite high by the operators.
Sliide launched its first offerings in Nigeria in March 2016 after beta-testing the service in the UK. It is working closely with MTN and Etisalat, though the company has “integrated into all” of the operators. It has already signed up more than 100 000 users, of which two-thirds are using the service actively.
“You can download the app through the Google Play Store, or directly via downloading APK files, which is where the majority of our installations come from. Many lot of the grey import devices hitting these markets don’t have Google Play services installed.”
Sliide is now actively engaged with South African operators to launch the offering to local users.
The start-up has so far raised £1,6m through two venture capital firms, DraperDarkFlow and Singularity Investments, as well some unnamed high-net-worth individuals.
“We’re now going back to original investors for another £600 000 and we are working on a new funding round for early next year,” Munnik said. Sliide is owned by Plus44 Holdings, incorporated in the UK. That business owns Sliide Media Nigeria and Sliide Media South Africa.
After it has launched in South Africa, Sliide is interested in expanding into both Kenya and Ghana, Munnik said.
The app is available for Android only for now, and Munnik doesn’t see a compelling need to expand to other platforms. He said the market is shifting overwhelmingly to Android and away from other platforms such as Windows Phone and BlackBerry. And iPhone users are not the company’s target market. — © 2016 NewsCentral Media