Nigerian startup in joint venture with UK firm to scale gamified ad-tech product

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Nigerian startup Hatixa has entered into a joint venture with United Kingdom (UK) firm BrandMobile to launch BrandMobile Africa, with the goal of creating a scalable ad-tech product built on gamification principles.

Founded by Toby Nwanede and Habeeb Aremu in 2017, Hatixa initially focused on media productions before developing a product called PEEP, that would programmatically deliver content to consumer lockscreens each time they tried to unlock or power up their devices. 

“Ultimately, it was a beautiful concept with lots of in-app engagement, but driving acquisition while trying to convince brands to provide content proved to be a chicken and egg palaver,” Nwanede told Disrupt Africa. 

“We met BrandMobile around 2018 through a friend and in late 2019, after some gruelling and quite testing months, we struck up a partnership conversation.”

Ad-tech company BrandMobile was launched in Denmark in 2006 by Brian Larsen, before being sold to iLoop in the United States (US). When iLoop closed in 2017, Larsen repurchased the rights to BrandMobile, and launched it in the UK and Denmark. The new BrandMobile decided to rethink its concept, basing it around gamification to increase response rates and return rates, and saw a great response upon its launch in 2018. 

Larsen sold the Scandinavian company in 2019, and has now partnered with Hatixa to see if the concept would work in Africa. BrandMobile Africa came into existence via a joint venture signed in January of this year, with Hatixa ceasing to exist as an entity other than to hold Nwanede and Aremu’s shares in the new joint venture. The new company says it has developed an innovative gamification ecosystem to boost brands, products and business.

“Our goal is to reach millions of audiences, connecting them closer with their brands, whilst enabling brands to facilitate conversion across all marketing metrics,” said Nwanede.

“We are on a mission to prove our belief that gamification is the single most important mechanism for driving productivity, performance and consumer behaviour. Along the way, we are committed to creating the most intuitive consumer database in Africa.” 

BrandMobile Africa exists to help Nigerian companies with customer onboarding and conversion, customer retention and loyalty, and data collection and optimisation.

“Engaging customers using digital channels such as social media allows for a wide range of awareness, but little conversion. By implementing gamification techniques and incentives, we are able to ensure customer participation and conversion both online and offline,” Nwanede said.

“Our SaaS platform, Proxima, gives clients the opportunity to control their marketing ROI, with real-time campaign analytics and reports, and ability to deploy powerful game mechanics. We literally turn awareness into measurable conversion.”

The company operates out of Lagos, but does not consider itself to be geo-bound. 

“We are already in partnership with media agencies in Eastern and Southern Africa and we are aiming to scale across these regions as well as West Africa by Q3 2021,” said Nwanede.

Self-funded through revenue generated from outsourcing its services, BrandMobile has decided to continue without external investment for the foreseeable future.

“Within six months of operations, we have run campaigns for P&G , for whom we are now an official vendor, as well as the likes of Nigerian Breweries,” Nwanede said. “Partnerships with some of the most renowned media agencies have also been major achievements.”

He said gamification was a nascent sector in Nigeria, and that it had been an interesting journey educating businesses and people on its usage and benefits. 

“The uptake hasn’t been entirely smooth but over time we have been able to onboard major businesses onto our various gamified products. We believe we are pioneers in this sector, not to say no one else is doing it; but we have truly dedicated ourselves to the principles of gamification and have identified areas where it has not been applied at scale.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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