African gaming startup Carry1st raises $27M in funding to become next frontier in mobile gaming in Africa


While gaming has almost reached its saturation point here in the US and Asia, the mass adoption of mobile games is just getting started in Africa. With millions of Africans now having access to smartphones, the game penetration level in Africa is expected to grow multiple folds and Africa is expected to have a massive growth market for mobile games, with sub-Saharan Africa reaching more than 180 million in the next five years, according to a report.

Today, with a population of 1.3 billion and an average age of 19, Africa is the fastest-growing mobile gaming market in the world. In just five years, Africa is expected to have double the number of gamers than North America. Anticipating this growth, tech startups such as Cape Town, South Africa-based Carry1st are tactically and strategically positioning themselves for the incoming surge that will give them a first-mover advantage, as investors look for the next Electronic Arts and Epic Games.

Today, Carry1st announced it has raised $27 million in a pre-Series B round led by Bitkraft Ventures. Other backers included current investors Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Konvoy Ventures, TTV Capital, Alumni Ventures, Lateral Capital, and Kepple Ventures.

The funding news comes just a year after the startup raised a $20 million Series A extension led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) in January 2022. Carry1st also raised secured $6 million in funding in May 2021 to scale its existing portfolio of games, and bolster its fintech solutions for gamers, Pay1st. To date, Carry1st has raised a total of $57M in funding over 6 rounds.

Credit: Carry1st

Founded in 2018 by CEO Cordel Robbin-Coker, Lucy Hoffman, and Tino Mundangepfupfu, Carry1st is a full-stack publisher of social games and interactive content with a focus on frontier markets like Africa. Carry1st started out as a game studio where its team conceptualized, designed, developed, and launched mobile games. Since then, the startup has switched to a hybrid model of adopting a publishing role and handling distribution, marketing, and operations, according to TechCrunch.

Carry1st’s team is made of 29 people across 14 countries hailing from top companies like Carlyle, King, Jumia, Rovio, Socialpoint, and Wargaming. In an interview with TechCrunch, CEO Robbin-Coker said:  “We now have, in our minds, the three best funds that focus on gaming and web3. And so it just adds even more resources, perspective, and assistance to help us achieve our goals.”

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