Celebrity content platform YELA has raised $2.2 million in a Seed round led by Justin Mateen, Tinder co-founder and general partner at JAM Fund, and Sean Rad, general partner at RAD Fund. Silicon Valley’s Razmig Hoghavian, general partner at Graph Ventures also joined the round alongside UK-based Samos Fund, Ascension Ventures, and Oryx Fund.
YELA, which is set to launch in August 2021, has offices in London, Cairo and Dubai and has attracted over a hundred Arab celebrities including singers Amr Diab and Haifa Wehbe, with whom followers can request personalised interactions. These include video, audio and direct text messages.
YELA founders are Alex Eid, CEO (ex homie.rent), and Marc Dakroub, CPO (ex- Bayzat). Joined by key partner and head of talent, Mohamad Talaat (Bookurstar)
YELA is set to revolutionise the creator space across MENA and South Asia by attracting superstar talent to the platform and normalising digital content experiences through their exclusive celebrity signings.
Having secured over $2 million in investment to support their August 2021 launch, Yela will offer users the opportunity to get close and personal to their idols via voice, video and direct text messages.
Investors have started to notice the MENA market and realise the clear case for a once overlooked region. Over 365 million internet users share a homogeneous language (Arabic) vs. 285m (English) in the US. With over 65% of the population under 35 and smartphone penetration one of the worlds highest (UAE 97%), the opportunity for technology investment is clear.
Consistent e-commerce growth of 25% YoY (over the last five years), combined with the cultural significance of celebrity icons’ on both a social and business level (50% of MENA based marketers utilise influencers), make the market highly relevant to such an investment.
YELA’s first round of funding is led by U.S investors Justin Mateen (co-founder of Tinder) and General Partner of JAM Fund, joined by Sean Rad (co-founder Tinder) and General Partner of RAD Fund. Participation from the valley also includes Graph Ventures, championed by Razmig Hovaghimian (Board Member at Rakuten). In addition, U.K investment comes from Samos Fund, Ascension Ventures, and from MENA-based Hambro Perks Oryx Fund, who joined the round.
Alex Eid, CEO and co-founder of YELA said: “It’s incredible to see the support that YELA has already received from all sides, investors, celebrity creators and fans,”
YELA has onboarded high-profile celebrities, by providing a premium offering within the creator space. Direct to fan engagement presents an opportunity for celebrities on both a commercial and a personal brand level, which YELA is helping capitalise on through its technology, data and tools.
This approach has led to many key celebrities signing exclusive contracts with YELA, including Amr Diab (Brand Ambassador to YELA) the multi-award-winning Egyptian singer considered the Father of Mediterranean music and three-time Big Apple Music Award winner Haifa Wehbe, among more than 100 instantly recognisable famous names.
YELA will launch in August 2021 with prices starting from $100. By attracting the biggest names on the planet, YELA aims to spearhead the creator economy across the region, providing exclusive access to the public whilst paving the way for a new norm.