Despite all the talk of major funding inflows into the African tech space, many startups – whether by accident or design – remain unfunded. And for many, like Selar from Nigeria, this is not a problem.
Founded in 2016, Selar is an online store builder that allows anyone to monetize their knowledge or skills through digital products or subscriptions. Creators on Selar typically sell e-books, courses, and training.
“We’re just trying to make it easy to sell any type of digital product online, and with Selar anyone can do it in under five minutes. They can host the products on Selar, they get cross-border payments for the whole world, and they get an easy way for their customers to access this product without any technical knowledge or creating their own website,” said the founder and CEO Douglas Kendyson, who previously worked for Flutterwave and Paystack.
The company has never raised external capital, other than a US$5,000 grant from the Tony Elumelu Foundation in 2018, but that hasn’t held it back.
“A lot of our growth was slow at first, but it’s skyrocketed in 2020,” Kendyson said. Selar started that year with 3,000 sellers, but grew to 21,000 in 2021 and now has over 35,000. The startup is active in 10 African countries – Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Tanzania, Rwanda and Senegal – and plans further expansion soon.
“International expansion has not been easy. Our head office is in Lagos, and with the majority of our team in Lagos, growing up in Nigeria has been much easier than expanding our depth in all the other African countries we serve today. We’re definitely doing a lot of work to improve that,” Kendyson said.