Founders Spotlight: Moagi Onkabetse (CEO, Aurora Media Group)

Aurora Media Group has a very ambitious goal; To completely disrupt the streaming industry in Africa. Through their platform, the company wants to allow content creators like athletes and religious group to monetise their content. In a country with a significant amount of athletic talent who have thus far not been able to sufficiently benefit from their successes, the startups might be onto a very disruptive solution.

BW TechZone caught up with Moagi Onkabetse, CEO of Aurora, to know more about the company's origins, more deets on their product offering, the challenges they have faced in their operations and how they have been able to surmount those, and much more!

Please tell us more about Aurora Media Group and the problem you are trying to solve through your product offering

How Aurora came about is that as Caesar Capital, the parent capital, we tried to establish our own cloud infrastructure. So this was during the peak of COVID in 2020 and we realised that we could pursue the subscription model and offer clients cloud infrastructure through a business-to-business model. But after COVID simmered down things then started slowing down as local business preferred the physical infrastructure over cloud.

We then had to decide as a business if we were going to shut down Aurora or refactor it especially considering the new laws and regulations that stated that all data should be housed and processed locally.  We then decided to pivot and create a platform that makes recurring revenue without the stress. And thats how we settled on providing streaming services. The reason we went the streaming route was because we were trying to create a paid athlete model to rival the likes of NBA and NFL. Basically, we were going to create our own sporting league content and stream it.

With settled on that because our country has tremendous athletes. We figured the model would allow athletes to have new ways to monetise their talent via content creation. We eventually went to beyond just sports talent and now every content content can host their content with us and get paid for it. Industry professionals and our customers can then rank the content to determine what gets seen on the platform and what doesn't, which i believe creates a smoother user interaction.

How much traction would you say you have garnered since launch?

Its been amazing. We launched a waiting list inn late February which so far garnered over 400,000 registrations. There are people from South Africa, Namibia and the likes of Nigeria waiting to use our platform. Currently we have universities and media houses from over 12 countries waiting to work with us. 

We are even talking to churches and saying to them, instead of streaming your services for free via Facebook and YouTube, come to our platform to monetise it. This means that we can be able to really reduce our customer acquisition costs which allows for fairly accelerated growth. In terms of funding, we have so far raised close to $60,000 and have also accepted a term sheet for 5 million euros.

We have also entered a partnership with Grey X Group to become the first streaming service to utilise AI to drive content serving. Through the partnership, we can create a movie with completely artificial intelligence individuals from beginning to end by just taking a script, feeding it into the AI engine, and then it creates the movie. This means that people get to work on a script, and then refine it in a shorter time, meaning that we've completely disrupted the media industry in terms of the period that it takes to make a movie. Apart from script writing, AI can create some scenes which would significantly reduce filming time from like a year to six months. 

One other thing that we've incorporated via AI but releasing at a later date is something we call "emotion detection". Here, based off your search history, we can predict what type of film that you feel like watching but the by turning on AI and letting it pick a movie based on your emotions. You can put a prompt which says "I feel like watching an action movie that's funny, and doesn't have too much of that doesn't have too many sex scenes, and it's family friendly" and it's recommended. We also have plans to use AI to figure out emotions of users coming from social media and recommend them suggestions based on that.

We also other programs like the Atlas accelerator for local businesses and we can't wait to share some of these initiatives during our launch on Tuesday May 30th, 2023.

What challenges have you faced in your operations so far?

I can immediately name one. Africans like a final product, and unlike out there, where you launch an MVP, and then people test that application like its a final product. To have adoption, you need to have pretty solid acquisition plan which cost quite a bit. So in our case, to solve that issue,  instead of trying to acquire clientele, specifically through marketing and other channels, we adopted user bases so that we can reduce the time taken to get people on our platform.

The other area which has been a headache is the laws and regulations. You see, one of the things that we did in order to be able to be up to standard is incorporating in the UK. This allows us to come from a solid environment in terms of regulator factors like licensing and the lot. I mean its changing for the better yes but there is still a long way to go to get a point where our regulations create an enabling environment for innovative platforms like ours.

The other issue have been the slowness to adopt technology in our country. We launched an initiative on our platform so that we can allow schools to upload content. Basically, the initiative would allow students to submit their content onto our platform and then whichever one is best, at the end of the semester, we back financially and then create either a series a movie or song, whichever aspect of media property the submission was in. And now we have close to 50,000 students .

So those are like the major two problems and stumbling blocks that we've seen. 

What other products are coming to Aurora Media in the near future?

Absolutely. We have the sporting league coming up, pending the closing of some licensing agreements with some sporting codes.  The complete materialisation of the sporting league will immediately impact our country on an economic level and job creation aspect because we really have some amazing sporting talent in this country.

Interview has been slightly edited for clarity

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