Yela, a platform that aims to connect fans and celebrities via personalized video messages, has secured $2.2 million from global investors to support its launch in its first pre-seed round of funding.
The list of investors includes Justin Mateen (co-founder of Tinder), Sean Rad (co-founder of Tinder), and Razmig Hovaghimian (a board member at Rakuten). The creators of the platform, Alex Eid and Marc Dakroub, claim that they’ve been able to secure the backing of such high-profile investors by offering exclusive access to A-list celebrities, including Amr Diab, Haifa Wehbe, Youssra, Ahmed El Sakka, Mohamed Henedy, Chico, Ghada Addel, Amr Youssef, and Mostafa Shaban, just to give a few examples.
Yela differs from its main competition, American video-sharing website Cameo, by targeting the MENA and South Asia market, whose population is relatively young and tech savvy.
“We’re differentiated in the region we cover, the type of creators we are onboarding, and the audience we are targeting,” said Yela CEO Alex Eid. “Also, the team is made up of second- and third-time venture backed entrepreneurs, with a passion for the product.”
Because Yela is currently in private beta, users are required to join a waiting list to get early access and unlock rewards. The first 5,000 users were able to secure priority access to the platform and get $100 worth of credits as a bonus. Now, up to 10,000 users can get only $40 worth of bonus credits. Supported payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and PayPal.
Platforms like Yela can be seen as products of the ongoing monetization of human interactions, which has been made possible by the internet and online payment methods. Their usage has increased significantly during lockdowns, likely as a result of people craving social interactions and being more willing to pay for them.
LEAP 2024 Will Shine A Light On Female Innovators In Technology
Women comprise nearly a third of the event’s speaker lineup alongside a dedicated program of high-level content, investment, and mentorship.
LEAP 2024, a premier global technology event, will highlight the achievements of women in the technology sector as it returns for its third edition at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Centre in Malham district from March 4 to 7.
Hosted by Tahaluf, a strategic collaboration between Informa PLC, the Events Investment Fund (EIF), and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones (SAFCSP), LEAP 2024 will feature a dedicated program titled “Women in Tech”. The program will offer enriching content, investment opportunities, networking sessions, mentorship programs, and a special startup award.
The initiative aims to inspire women to actively participate in the technology industry, aligning with broader diversity efforts. Reflecting the Kingdom’s commitment to equality, the focus on “Women in Tech” coincides with the increasing female participation at LEAP events.
Annabelle Mander, Senior Vice President of Tahaluf, emphasized the event’s commitment to gender inclusivity, stating, “Female representation is across all of LEAP’s features and reflects the event’s mission of driving economic diversification and providing market access to international business. Within Tahaluf itself, half of our team members are women, and women make up half of our SMT, too”.
The “Women in Tech” program will feature distinguished speakers including Nadine Hachach Haram, CEO and Founder of Proximie, and Sahar Albanarna from IMPACTIQUE Bahrain, who explained: “Over 26 million women worldwide with professional experience and degrees are not in the global workplace. This demographic includes a huge pool of untapped talent which technology can help unleash to fuel the co-creation of exponential solutions across multiple sectors. To help women access productive employment, we urge industry leaders to support high-impact female entrepreneurs as a means to boost their economies and accelerate the UN’s sustainable development goals by promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth”.
The event will also provide a platform for female-led startups and entrepreneurs to pitch for funding and support through various initiatives such as the Women’s Investor Forum, Entrepreneur Mentorship Scheme, and the Aviatrix Award at the Rocket Fuel pitch competition, offering a prize fund of US$150,000.