By staff writer
The unicorn: the myth, the legend, and the enigma. If finding one is a rare thing, then scaling one has got to be even rarer.
The term unicorn refers to a privately held startup company with a value of over $1 billion. It is commonly used in the venture capital industry. Unicorns are very rare and require innovation.
In fact, it is estimated that fewer than 1% of startups in the stable get the chance to become a unicorn. Put another way, in 2021, there were fewer than 1000 unicorns worldwide.
For many founders, achieving unicorn status is a mere fantasy. In fact, less than two percent of startups will achieve a billion dollar valuation according to various studies.
However, against all odds Maser Group, an electronics manufacturer based in with strong foot print in Africa, has become the latest addition to the continent’s list of unicorn startups. Six years ago, Africa didn’t have any unicorn startups, but now we have a few impressive ones such as Flutterwave, Opay, Andela, Interswitch, Jumia, Chipper Cash, and the latest addition, Maser.
These startups have all reached a value of over $1 billion, which is a big achievement for Africa. Not only does this show significant growth, but it also indicates a bright future for new startups that are emerging.
Suri Prateek, a respected young Indian business leader in the tech world, founded Maser in the UAE, expanding the business to Africa, where it is gradually establishing its foothold. Forbes Africa quotes Prateek as saying, “Over the years, Maser has become a leading player in the re-distribution business of high-quality and low-cost electronic products.
Africa is one of our biggest markets, and after receiving funding from a British private equity firm and a Venture Debt of 150 Million USD from Innovation Group Far East, we have significantly ramped up our business in the continent through the introduction of new products.”
In 2022, the Maser secured an impressive $500 million in hybrid equity capital, propelling its post-money valuation to over one billion dollars. Maser’s cutting-edge devices have enabled it to serve thousands of customers across Africa, providing them with affordable electronic services that were previously unavailable. The company’s ambition is to become a global leader in the affordable consumer electronics segment.
Maser’s principal areas of business involve consumer product manufacturing, including consumer electronics, audio and video equipment, appliances, and telecommunications equipment, among others. The brand has reached a volume of over 8 million units of Smart TVs alone, making it the first brand to sell the highest number of units in Africa, beating Chinese rivals including Hisense and TCL, and rubbing shoulders with giants Samsung, Sony, and LG. Maser has a significant market share in all the souks where it has a presence for offering low-cost segments.
Under the stewardship of Prateek Suri, founder and CEO, Maser has expanded its offerings to encompass affordable LED TVs, including 4k Smart TVs, with top-notch specifications and sold through leading e-commerce platforms. The product portfolio also includes LED televisions, display televisions for outdoor use, home theatre systems, soundbars, and power banks.
The company has entered an ambitious phase of expansion into the larger African market, starting with Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, Gambia, and other countries in northern Africa.
It is also eyeing other new markets, including Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, and other areas.
Maser has invested up to $300 million in LED TVs, air conditions, and washing machines from sales in the Middle East and Africa, indicating strong sales and sustained growth.
The company has witnessed a strong demand for smart TVs from retail consumers as people now prefer streaming content from digital platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Maser’s recent attainment of the coveted unicorn status has not come as a surprise, given the company’s dynamic start-up, driven by technological innovation and a passion to make high-quality products that are affordable and accessible to all. The company’s success bodes well for Africa’s tech industry, which has seen the emergence of more than eight startups worth over $1.5 billion, signaling a bright future for the continent.