Booking personalized videos from stars and influencers to wish a friend “ happy birthday”, a dream now possible with Starzly, a Dubai-based start-up founded by Moroccan Badr Kachibal.
Launched in January 2019 by Badr Kachibal, a former executive within major Arab media groups (Al Arabiya, Shahid.net, MBC Group) and Nadir Khayat, the famous Swedish-Moroccan singer and producer (known as Red One) who worked alongside Lady Gaga, Starzly is a shoutout platform that allows its users to book personalized video messages from celebrities, athletes or influencers from various fields and among which we can find the famous egyptien comedian Bassem Youssef.
Available in English and Arabic on the Starzly website as well as on IOS and Android, this interface enables personal interactions between individuals and well-known personalities in a simple and flexible way.
In a market such as the MENA, which encompasses more than 15,000 influencers and a growing number of social networks users with 63 million Instagram users worldwide (according to the latest 2019 report on the state of social media by Crowd Analyzer), Starzly could well disrupt the influence and entertainment market in the Middle East.
The recent investment it has raised from the Saudi investment fund Nama Ventures should encourage it in this direction.
How did you come up with the idea of connecting influencers and users?
I had been working in the media for a few years, and as I am a very sociable person who likes to go out and talk to people, I got to connect with a lot of superstars who were coming to MBC TV and built a strong network of talents and singers. Among them was Red One, the man behind Lady Gaga who is now my business partner. I once told him that people are today more famous than ever, but a lot of them are more famous than rich and even if they have thousands of followers, they don’t always manage to monetize them. That’s why I wanted to create a platform that would allow, for a certain amount of money, to book personalized videos made by stars or influencers.
How is your service working?
It has been designed in a way that in only three steps, you can reserve your video. You just have to go on the website or application, to choose an artist, select the occasion for which you are booking the video (birthday, or just to boost a small business), and then write the message you want to share. On his side, the artist must respond within 5 days. Prices range from $5 to $300, and we only act as an advisor to guide the artists with the rates. It is a unique and amazing experience and we have already received more than 500 5-star reviews. Our database includes about 200 talents from the MEE, and a large percentage of international talents and Bollywood stars.
What was the most difficult part of creating Starzly?
The talents we target are very busy people and it wasn’t easy to convince them to join us on board. Because they didn’t trust us at first and didn’t really see where the service was going to take them. But we were able to convince them that it wouldn’t take them much time, and could create a unique experience for them and their fans, while at the same time bringing them complementary incomes. Since then, we’ve gained their trust and visibility, and now we have influencers with millions of followers in our catalog.
What is your business model?
Our business model is very simple, we take 25% commission on the artist’s income, leaving them the biggest share to keep them motivated.
How has coronavirus affected your business?
It was a great opportunity for us to get in touch with the talents because all of a sudden their events were cancelled, so they had more free time and we could convince them to try the platform. On the user side too, there were more requests because people were more available.
Why is it interesting for a start-up like you to be based in Dubai?
Actually Dubai is a very dynamic and multicultural market, where a number of success stories are emerging. In addition, Dubai is a quite mature market in terms of new products and has a large number of early adopters.
What are your plans for 2021?
We have big ambitions, and one of them is to add a chat feature with the stars in our offer, also we are planning to announce new talents very soon.