Angolan startup Luanda Nightlife (LNL), a digital platform that informs, influences and updates readers on Luanda’s restaurants, bars, and hotels, is looking to cement its first mover advantage in the country’s nascent tourism sector after already becoming its largest restaurant review platform.
Founded in 2013, having previously been an informal blog run by a group of friends, LNL has a two-man team of Claudio Silva and Matt Tali. The pair have built up quite a following – with strong followings for its website, newsletters and social media pages – while it has earned revenues each year of its existence.
The startup is currently on the lookout for funding in order to expand its team, reinvest in its platform and expand to other cities within Angola. The company also has international expansion in mind, looking beyond Luanda to other destinations favoured by its residents, such as Benguela, Bengo, Lubango, Cape Town and Lisbon.
LNL’s initial appeal, according to Silva, is the fact it is the first of its kind in a country where the tourism industry is in its infancy.
“In Luanda in particular, and Angola as a whole, there was no single reliable, updated, informative online directory of Luanda’s restaurants. Few restaurants have Facebook, even fewer have websites. Quality, independent reviews were hard to find or nonexistent. We feel that with LNL we can address all those problems and create a platform that readers would want to return to,” he said.
Funded primarily by families and friends, LNL has a B2B business model. It sells digital advertising across its platforms, while also running culinary events such as the recent Angola Restaurant Week. Funding, however, would give the startup greater scope of expanding its revenue streams.
“We hope to have an app ready and in operation during the first trimester next year and an online booking platform in about a year’s time. We’re planning to double our revenue by the end of 2016,” Silva said.
The LNL app – on iOS and Android – is high on LNL’s agenda, though lack of funds has been an impediment. LNL TV is also in the pipeline, with the startup currently in talks with Geração 80, one of Angola’s most innovative and forward-thinking independent media companies, to develop an online series in which LNL profiles Angola’s rising chefs in several episodes.
Working in Angola, however, has its challenges, Silva said.
“Angola is a very challenging environment in which to do business, let alone be an entrepreneur,” he said.
“Bureaucracy is one of our greatest problems and even a simple trip to the bank can take a hours when you factor in the traffic and lack of public transportation. In the beginning we also had to navigate through some cultural norms as the practice of publicly critiquing a place wasn’t yet common.”