Minly, a platform empowering stars to create authentic, personalised connections with their fans across the Mena region, has closed an oversubscribed $3.6 million seed round co-led by 4DX Ventures, B&Y Venture Partners, and Global Ventures.
The round also included participation from other leading regional funds, and a cast of highly strategic angel investors including Scooter Braun (founder of SB Projects), WndrCo (Anthony Saleh and Jeffrey Katzenberg), Jason Finger (founder of Seamless / Grubhub), Arieh Mimran (Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer of to.org, and CIO of Groupe Mimran), and Tamim Jabr (Executive Director for International Investments at Kingdom Holding Co).
“Minly is fundamentally changing the relationship between celebrities and fans in the Mena region, and has an enormous opportunity for growth,” says Peter Orth, Co-Founder & General Partner at 4DX Ventures, who will be joining the board. “The team has both the ambition and the expertise to build a full-stack digital interaction platform that could change the way digital content is created and consumed in the region. We’re thrilled to partner with Minly and to help them reach their full potential.”
The company has experienced rapid organic growth since launching in late 2020, and already has more than 50,000 registered users on the platform, along with an impressive list of tier A regional celebrities. Through Minly, users can buy personalised video messages and shoutouts from their favourite celebrities, getting unprecedented access to the talent they admire most, and celebrities in turn get to connect with their fans on a deeper level.
Minly has assembled a diverse roster of hundreds of talented celebrities that not only includes traditional cinema and television stars but also athletes, musicians, and internet influencers. Minly has been able to attract some of the top talents in the region to the platform, including Tamer Hosny, Fifi Abdou, Assala Nasri, Dorra Zarrouk, Hazem Imam, and Mahmoud Trezeguet.
The global pandemic has helped boost interest in the platform – in-person events have all but disappeared, and Minly is offering celebrities an authentic and personal way to continue to interact with their top fans.
One such top star on the platform is acclaimed singer, actor, and director Tamer Hosny, with more than 50 million followers across social media. “I’m very excited to be on Minly, connecting with my fans around the world,” he says. “I’m also super happy with the social impact that we’re making on Minly, as a portion of the proceeds goes to charities to help the less fortunate”.
Minly has broader ambitions to extend its products and services to become a full-stack passion economy platform that empowers content creators to deliver meaningful experiences across multiple mediums to their fans. “With this new funding and the incredible group of partners that joined us, we are ready to scale across the region and introduce an exciting suite of new products,” says Mohamed El-Shinnawy, co-founder at Minly. “The creator economy is in its infancy and growing at lightning speed. We have the opportunity to build this category’s first unicorn in Mena”.
Minly allows users to browse public shoutouts on the platform and gives them a chance to record their reactions creating unique and authentic moments. An example of the heartfelt Minly Moments created on the platform is when Tamer Hosny popped up unexpectedly in Haidy and Abanoub’s engagement party surprising everyone and creating an unforgettable moment for the happy couple.
Another Minly Moment that was captured on the platform was for Assala’s biggest fans, the Al-Ghazzawi family. Mohamad was caught off guard when his wife Insaf gifted him a personalised video from Assala on Father’s Day celebrating their precious daughter Sham. “As a mission-driven team, it’s all about spreading this positivity and empowering stars and content creators to engage with communities from all walks of life. We’re also very proud of our collaboration with NGOs that create real on-the-ground social impact, such as the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation.” adds Shinnawy.
Shinnawy brings more than 15 years of media and technology experience to the table. He sold his first company Emerge Technology to a media and entertainment company based in Los Angeles, and managed a team of 85 engineers that delivered work for Hollywood’s top studios, such as Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal, Disney, Fox, and Warner Brothers. Shinnawy also played an instrumental role in Apple TV+, Disney+, and Netflix’s global expansion to reach hundreds of millions of users worldwide.
Co-founded and led by Mohamed El-Shinnawy, Tarek Hosny, and Bassel El-Toukhy, with industry partners such as Tarek ElGanainy and Ahmed Abbas, Minly’s team brings together decades of experience from top firms in technology and entertainment, including Uber, Careem, MBC’s Shahid, Emerge Technology, Microsoft, Disney, Apple, Netflix, IBM, Amazon, and Vodafone.