Mansa: This Company Is Surfacing Black Culture In A Streaming Market Valued At Over $65 Billion

By Amit Chowdhry • May 9, 2023

Mansa is a free ad-supported streaming platform that highlights Black content for a global audience. The company was founded by a group of award-winning filmmakers and actors David Oyelowo, Nate Parker, and Chiké Okonkwo as well as tech entrepreneur and film financier Zak Tanjeloff. To learn more about the company, Pulse 2.0 interviewed Tanjeloff.

Background Of Zak Tanjeloff, Co-Founder And Chief Strategy Officer At Mansa

Tanjeloff has always been interested in the convergence of entertainment, technology, and finance. “As an undergrad at Harvard, I produced on-campus concerts from worldwide acts, bringing talent to campus like Bob Dylan, Wu-Tang Clan, and more. After college, I was eager to work in entertainment – but the job I was offered at a talent agency I was unable to accept; as the salary for the entry-level position was well below what it would take to live in New York,” said Tanjeloff.” As the Great Recession hit, I decided to explore the technology world, and with my ex-college roommate, founded a direct-to-consumer e-commerce company, all the while I was working on my side hustle – building out my entertainment production company, called Tiny Giant Entertainment, with Nate Parker. I eventually was able to sell my e-commerce company just as our Tiny Giant’s second film, The Birth of a Nation, won Sundance and set the record for the highest sale in the history of Sundance. Since then I have continued to produce and finance movies before bringing all my experiences together in tech, finance, and entertainment to build Mansa with some incredibly talented people.”

As the co-founder of the company, Tanjeloff works across the organization with the other talented leaders at Mansa, primarily supporting the operations, marketing, and corporate and business development teams. Working with the company’s board of directors and leadership, Tanjeloff helps to steer corporate strategy as well.

Challenges Faced Building The Company

Has the current macroeconomic climate had any effect on the company?

Tanjeloff told me that this is a challenging macroeconomic environment from a funding perspective, but their specific domain of free ad-supported television is itself exploding – which is a wave that they are surely riding. “Our challenges simply are the same blocking and tackling challenges of any young company – which is delivering an incredible product to our customers as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Tanjeloff noted.

Core Products

Mansa featured

What are Mansa’s core products?

“Operating in stealth for more than 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,” Tanjeloff explained. “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. The 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. Other features include a social layer integrated into the core experience, which includes support for asynchronous watching with friends and real-time reactions to that content.”

The content includes:

– Free Movies & TV shows on demand, curated from the best of Global black culture, as well as 24/7 Channels

– A TikTok-like feed of the best videos from the Culture today from across the internet

– A social watching feature set that allows you to watch all of the above with the talent of the show and your friends.

Evolution Of Mansa’s Technology

How has Mansa’s technology evolved since launching?

“To date, we have already licensed over 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 Q2 2023 on Roku, Amazon FireTV, iOS, Android, Samsung, Vizio, LG, and web,” Tanjeloff pointed out.

Biggest Milestones

What have been some of Mansa’s most significant milestones?

Ahead of the company’s wide launch, Mansa completed a successful stealth beta period over the last few months with its user acquisition, view time, and retention data already well ahead of expectations and ahead of other incumbents in the space.


So far, Mansa has raised $8 million in seed round financing, with funding led by MaC Venture Capital with participation from WndrCo, Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Investment Partners, Base Ventures, Dubin & Co, Rainmaker Films, and Robert F. Smith.

Total Addressable Market (TAM)

What is the total addressable market (TAM) size that Mansa is pursuing?

“The AVOD (advertising video on demand) and FAST (free-ad supported TV) are rapidly growing corners of the streaming market. The rise of AVOD and FAST is projected to grow 144% to a combined $66 billion across 138 countries through 2026, according to data from Digital TV Research.

At Mansa, we see an opportunity to expand the audience beyond our core target with authentic and credible servicing of the Mansa brand,” Tanjeloff answered. “Black culture and creatives have been at the center of influencing pop culture and we have built a platform where curated Black cultural content can be accessed by anyone, for free. At Mansa, we believe that through streaming, there exists a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reclaim the curation of Black culture for global audiences and create a more equitable, sustainable industry. This deepens the scope of what Black content gets to be made and seen while breaking down stereotypes and introducing more of the world to the most influential culture today.”

Differentiation From The Competition

What differentiates Mansa from its competition?

Tanjeloff emphasized that Mansa separates itself from other platforms by offering a level of transparency unique to the industry including 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. Mansa is also designed with a social layer integrated into the core experience, which represents the full breadth of cultural conversation happening today and supports asynchronous watching with friends and real-time reaction to the content.

Future Company Goals

What are some of Mansa’s future company goals?

“Firstly, it’s to bring together all the other incredible content and channels that are making content for Black audiences and those who love it. We believe we are stronger together, and so our primary goal is to make sure there is a home and space on Mansa for that. On the content side, we are adding dozens of new content partners, FAST channels, and big studio films, as well as surfacing some of the most incredibly talented filmmakers most have not yet heard of,” Tanjeloff concluded. “From a global perspective, we will expand internationally, first into Africa, and then throughout the diaspora.”