Mansa – the streaming platform for curated global Black cultural content – founded by award-winning filmmakers and actors David Oyelowo, Nate Parker, and Chiké Okonkwo along with tech entrepreneur and film financier Zak Tanjeloff – announced it has come out of stealth after a year-long development and beta phase along with the closing of an $8 million seed round of financing with backing led by MaC Venture Capital and additional funding from WndrCo, Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Investment Partners, Base Ventures, Dubin & Co, Rainmaker Films and Robert F. Smith. Mansa is a free and ad-supported streaming platform showcasing content that celebrates Black culture from across the globe.
The company’s core belief is that Black culture is pop culture. And by authentically curating the best in Black culture, it will attract not only Black audiences but broad mass market audiences as well.
Mansa has built a platform where curated Black cultural content can be accessed by anyone for free. And Mansa believes that through streaming, there exists a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reclaim the curation of Black culture for global audiences – which would create a more equitable and sustainable industry.
After the US launch this quarter, Mansa is going to expand internationally, first into Africa and then throughout the diaspora. Along with Black culture as a whole, Black creatives have been routinely marginalized and left out of the monetary gains driven by their work. And Mansa’s leadership team has a deep understanding of the entertainment industry, the culture, and what it will take to shift the dynamics in the entertainment space.
Along with offering films featuring global stars such as Idris Elba, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Trevor Noah, Zoe Kravitz, Halle Berry, etc., a clear mission for the company is to identify, surface, and cultivate Black talent from around the world alongside them. And there is an enormous pool of untapped talent ready to rise to the top across the globe who are often overlooked in a system that undervalues and underappreciates them.
Plus Mansa has been clear in its desire to partner with other Black culture-focused streamers in the space, positioning itself not as a competitor but as an aggregator of content and channels looking to celebrate, illuminate and distribute the culture that drives the world.
The Mansa platform meets its consumers where they are by offering content that is agnostic to any specific format, showcasing curated long-form and short-form film and tv shows, user-generated content, digital linear (FAST) channels, and video podcasts. So far, Mansa has already licensed 1,500+ hours of content, and secured partnerships with upwards of 50 content suppliers with over two dozen licensed FAST channels rolling out as the company prepares for a wide launch during the second quarter of 2023 on Roku, Amazon FireTV, iOS, Android, Samsung, Vizio, LG, and the web.
Free streaming platforms have been growing rapidly and it is targeted to become a $260 billion industry globally by 2025. And Black audiences make up nearly 40% of the view time on the current most popular free platforms, but none of the existing platforms are superserving this global audience. Mansa is aiming to change that. The company’s successful beta, run over the last few months, indicates that Mansa is already finding its audience.
Differentiation from the competition: Mansa separates itself from other platforms by offering a level of transparency unique to the industry such as true ownership and equity for the creators of Mansa Originals. And Mansa pledges to create lasting, long-term relationships with all creators and talent who produce original content with the platform – who will share in the company’s success and become a part of its growing network of creatives. Plus Mansa provides a fresh approach to a curated experience, priding itself on being creator-first and fostering an audience community that encourages interactions with viewers.
Working in stealth mode for over a year, Mansa has quietly built a formidable team of nearly 30 employees, bringing in leaders from Netflix, BET, Hulu, Roku, Tubi, Redbox, Complex and Uber. And during this period, the team has developed the Mansa platform with a multiscreen interface that enables consumption anytime, anywhere, allowing for conversation and community through the lens of Black culture.
Other investors include former NBA star and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s Black Capital VC, James Norman, CEO of Pilotly and Managing Partner of Black Operator Ventures, and Wemimo Abbey, Co-Founder of the Softbank-backed unicorn Esusu among others.
“Mansa is creating a space for diverse narratives, perspectives, characters and creators that continue to be underrepresented. I’m honored to help fill storytelling gaps for audiences still waiting to be served.”
- Erika Turner, Mansa Chief Content Officer
“Black culture is at the forefront of global culture. Yet at the same time, only the tip of the iceberg has been cultivated and propagated; we’re here to showcase the true breadth and depth of it for a Global audience.”
“We aim to change the paradigm around creator fairness, solving to address long felt challenges in the industry through addressing, ownership, transparency and community on a foundational level. Mansa is diligently looking for content creators and companies within entertainment to work with, building a centralized hub where all can thrive together. To this point, that is something the establishment has been reluctant to do as a matter of practice. We will be announcing some very exciting partnerships and shows very soon.”
- Mansa co-founder David Oyelowo, a multiple Golden Globe, BAFTA and Emmy-nominated actor and producer, best known for playing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ava DuVernay’s SELMA
“Our user acquisition, view time, and retention data is already well ahead of expectations and ahead of other incumbents in the space.”
- Mansa co-founder Zak Tanjeloff
“David and Nate are proven creators and producers of culturally relevant and top-selling content. Further, they’ve assembled an all-star cast of content curators, streaming technology product managers and engineers. There is no better team to build and grow the category winner in the wide open AVOD sector. They are building the future of advertising and video in a space where there hasn’t been a clear leader. I’m proud to work alongside a committed team that celebrates Black creatives and communities while pushing the culture forward.”
- Marlon Nichols, co-founder and managing general partner at MaC Venture Capital
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