Edtech startup Kukua raises US$6m in Series A round to establish its content

KENYA – Kukua, a Nairobi-based educational entertainment startup, which is the creator of the cartoon superhero brand Super Sema, has raised US$6 million in a Series A round.

The round was sponsored by Tencent Investments and Italy-based VC Alchimia. Other investors in the round include EchoVC, FirstMinute Capital, and Auxxo Female Catalyst.

Kukua says the financing will help it continue to establish an IP-centric kids’ “edutainment” ecosystem with new Super Sema original content, licencing, retail, and publishing options.

“Kukua is one of those companies in the world that everyone wants to see succeed. We have been part of their growth journey from the first day and are thrilled to continue to support their world-class team, inspired by the positive impact we can have on an entire generation of kids,” Paolo Barletta, partner at Alchimia, said.

Lucrezia Bisignani founded Kukua in 2018, and the first edition of Super Sema was released three years later. Super Sema is the narrative of a 10-year-old African girl who is a superhero with abilities such as inventiveness, tenacity, and teamwork.

She employs science, technology, engineering, the arts, and arithmetic to construct inventions in her hidden lab to combat this wicked robot enemy, her town’s ruler, and his minions.

According to CEO Lucrezia Bisignani, the idea to create an animated superhero brand for children, particularly those in Africa, stemmed from a scarcity of such shows.

“When I started this, we saw there were no African characters, and very few that were just Black. So, we thought this was a much-needed space, not only for kids in Africa but globally,” Bisignani said.

“It’s for kids to feel represented and to grow up with cartoons that are not only white but also to understand different cultures and themes.”

The show was created with the goal of “empowering” a generation of children with strong female African role models and “inspiring” them with team skills through the creation of a fun, thrilling series that provides an outlet for STEAM learning.

“We’ve always seen our target audience as global. We wanted this to be a mega success in Africa and the rest of the world. So similarly, to ‘Black Panther,’ which attracted the most diverse audience ever for being an all-African story and cast, our mission is really on both fronts,” the CEO said.

“We want to showcase the beauty and a different narrative coming from Africa to the rest of the world. And of course, for all the kids here in the continent to see themselves represented.”

The target demographic for Super Sema is between the ages of 4 and 8, and 60 percent of its YouTube Originals audience is American. The United Kingdom and Kenya round out the top three countries with the most Super Sema viewers. In a future version, Kukua may take Super Sema to the metaverse.

“One of the goals is to have kids enter the Super Sema story world and do that in a Roblox experience, somewhere they can just go from online to offline and continuously play and learn with their favorite characters in this very engaging story world,” Bisignani said.

“We want to be the Disney of learning and leverage all the latest media and technologies to create engaging experiences for our users.”

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