In a seed funding round participated by Coinbase, Three Arrows Capital (3AC), Alameda Research, Tiger Global, Delphi Ventures, AllianceDAO, DeFiance Capital, Yield Guild Games, Polygon Studios, Polygon co-founder and CEO Sandeep Nailwal; ex-ParaFi partner Santiago R Santos; Terraform Labs co-founder and CEO Do Kwon; and partner at Delphi Digital Piers Kicks, Congo-based startup Jambo raised $7.5 million.
Jumbo is a startup bringing the continent of Africa to the spotlight. It is building an indigenous web3 user acquisition portal and providing access to crypto-based income-generation opportunities.
The company was founded in November 2021 by CEO James Zhang and his sister, both born in Congo. The company was founded after they saw an opportunity in Africa regarding web3 projects. Unlike other platforms such as Axie Infinity which users only earn an income while playing games through a revenue-sharing model, Jambo employs a two-sided approach allowing users to earn when they participate in web2 and web3 activities.
Jambo partners with telecom companies to get about 70 percent discount on data and airtime and then provides them to its users for as low as 50 percent discount from the original cost. This way, users can save money on data when they use Jambo. “It’s one of our main user acquisition strategies where we want to double every Africans airtime and data”, CEO James Zhang said.
It also has partnerships with social media companies ensuring that users earn tokens which can be converted to cash, while engaging on their platforms. “The reason we can do that is via partnerships with these companies as we tokenize a part of their advertising budget and directly provide to the end-user. Many web2 incumbents or even web3 are having a $100-200 user acquisition costs so we can lower that by order of magnitude by directly incentivizing the end-user”, he explained.
Africa can hardly boast of play-to-earn games and this is because the infrastructure to create them, which is through guilds, is unavailable. Jambo is taking it upon itself to build this infrastructure which is lacking and the new funding from its seed round will help make that possible. The company will not be operating on the business models of these guild which take percentages of users’ profit. Instead, it plans to get its revenue from web2 models; charging from advertising and earning commissions from selling airtime and data.
CEO James Zhang revealed that the startup is already testing out more than 10 play-to-earn games and plans to introduce them to its users in the next few months. The CEO also mentioned that the startup is aware that Africa is mostly oblivious of how web3 works. “Education is at the core of what we do because I think there is no shortcut in Africa. You have to educate the user base before you can even think about monetizing or start to acquire users at the end of the day. This is why we are launching classes with a full curriculum on web3. We plan to launch that in more than five universities in Africa by the end of Q1”, he said.
Currently, the startup boasts of more than 12,000 students from 15 countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, etc. These students are undergoing 10-week programs made available at colleges and more than 600 physical locations run through partnerships. There is also an online option for those who prefer this. These programs are aimed at helping students leverage the opportunities in play-to-earn gaming and decentralized finance (DeFi).
According to the startup’s CEO, over 50 percent of its students are under 24 years of age. He is of the opinion that the way it chooses to provide education related to play-to-earn games and DeFi could “lead to financial prosperity in ways Africans could never have accessed before”.
The CEO also explained that “I think in Africa, there is no money to save because there’s 1% super-rich and 99% the same. So for us, we set out with a different methodology, which is to help the everyday person make money. This is why every component in our super app is actually to help the everyday person make money from play to earn, to making money from watching videos and saving money on data credits. So ideally, in three to six months, once our app comes online, the everyday person can make $50 a month from playing on Axie Infinity, make another $20 a month from watching videos, and they make another $10 bucks a month from the money they save on data credits. That would be the ideal situation our app can accomplish with every person”.
Jambo plans to release the beta version of its app by the second quarter of this year and go live by the third quarter.