BY TOM JACKSON
Nigerian startup PENG is bridging the gap between African talent and their fans by allowing people to book and pay for personalised video shoutouts from their favourite celebrities.
Launched last year, PENG is currently working with about 60 individuals across categories such as entertainment, fashion, business, sports and religion. Users are able to request and pay for personalised videos from these celebrities, for things such as birthday wishes or congratulatory messages.
“We provide an easier and faster way to help fans connect with their favourite celebrity directly,” co-founder and chief executive officer Temitope Esan told Disrupt Africa.
PENG was formed based on a personal experience of Esan’s. Ahead of his wedding in 2018, he wanted to surprise his future wife by getting a celebrity to perform at their wedding reception, but it was very expensive. So he reached out to her favourite celebrity, Nigerian singer and songwriter Johnny Drille, via Instagram.
“Surprisingly, he responded. He congratulated us about our wedding and sent his regards to my wife. I showed my wife our conversation and her reaction was unbelievable. She was not only excited about my intention, but having her favourite musician congratulate her personally was mind blowing,” said Esan.
“I immediately concluded that there are millions of people out there who would love to have the same experience from their own favourite celebrity.”
So PENG was born, providing users with an easy and cost-efficient way of connecting with their favourite celebrities and offering a novel type of gift for a special occasion.
“All stakeholders involved get something out of this. The talents make extra income and have the opportunity to connect more with their fans on a personal level,” Esan said. “The fans experience a feeling that is unimaginable, and also have the chance to amaze a loved one.”
Meanwhile, kids in rural communities across Africa also benefit through donations PENG makes to charity organisations promoting better quality education.
PENG is self-funded and focused on hitting certain milestones before it raises seed capital, but its initial traction has been hindered by COVID-19.
“In order to properly test the market, we had a pre-launch in March for four weeks, and we gained significant traction before the COVID-19 pandemic hit us hard,” Esan said.
Nonetheless, in that short period the startup received 18 paid bookings and almost 150 enquiries, and PENG is now in the process of rolling out mobile apps to increase its reach. Esan said the team believes there is a potential market size of about 1.5 million Nigerians, and around eight million Africans.
“We have the marketing. All we need to do is improve on our celebrity acquisition which will have a direct impact on bookings,” he said.
“Our focus for now is on acquiring Nigerian celebrities, either based locally or abroad. Once we hit 100 Nigerian celebrities and we hit our expected revenue projection, we plan to commence Ghanian, Kenyan and Cameroonian talents on PENG. By Q1 of 2021, we will actively expand to those three markets.”