Islamic Lifestyle 

CASE STUDY-Alchemiya Media – Disrupting the video-on-demand market in the Muslim media sector

| 29 September, 2015 | Case Study
 DinarStandard
Alchemiya Media
Founder & CEONavid Akhtar
HeadquartersLondon, UK
Year launched2015
Funds raised$247,000 in total financing ($179,000 in crowdfunded equity and $69,000 in early seed).  Will be launching a Series A round for up to $5 million this year.
Subscribers

2015 target is 5,000 subscribers. Year 5 target is 1 million subscribers. 

COMPANY OVERVIEW

Alchemiya Media is a new online, subscription-based, video-on-demand platform that aims to present the world’s best content about Muslim life. The channel aims to counter the negative portrayal of Islam and Muslims in mainstream media and shows Islam and Muslims in a positive light, covering art, culture, history, heritage, travel, lifestyle, spirituality and children’s programs. Alchemiya Media differentiates itself from other Islamic channels by focusing on lifestyle, rather than news and politics.

It is geared to appeal to Global Urban Muslims (GUMmies), who are educated, digitally connected, are committed to Islam and desire a more positive and upbeat portrayal of their religion.

The Alchemiya website was launched on March 19, 2015 as a Beta site with 30 titles. Since then the company has added more content and now has over 50 titles. It also introduced a seven-day free trial which has resulted in an uptick in subscribers. The company has paying customers in 33 countries, with the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and the United Arab Emirates being the top countries.

 

The next round of investment will allow Alchemiya to improve some technical features, increase its content to 150 titles, and improve the scale of its offering.

 

 

KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS

  1. On target to reach 5,000 subscribers in 2015
  2. Wide media coverage including BBC News, The Guardian, The National, and many others.
  3. Raised $247,000 in total financing ($179,000 in crowdfunded equity and $69,000 in early seed).  Will be launching a Series A round for up to $5 million this year.
  4. The first Muslim startup to be selected for the ALPHA Startup Track at the WebSummit in Dublin in November of this year; the event has over 30,000 attendees and over 50 leading tech VCs and other investors.

OPPORTUNITIES BEING ADDRESSED

Significant global potential: Muslims globally accounted for $179 billion of spend on Media and Recreation in 2014, representing a sizeable market, and 5 percent of global spend on Media & Recreation.

However, there is a need for a more balance perspective on Islam. In particular, young educated Muslims in the West are hungry for a positive narrative on Islam to counter the Islamophobia portrayed in mainstream media.

 

Currently, there is a dearth of high quality programming on Muslim lifestyle topics. Very few Muslim media companies have succeeded in providing engaging high quality content and in being a global point of reference on Islam and Muslims. Alchemiya is geared to fill this void.

 KEY STRATEGY COMPONENTS

High quailty content for GUMmies

Providing high quality content:

Alchemiya’s founder, Navid Akhtar, is an award-winning TV producer and a veteran of the BBC. The company maintains its high quality by hiring only the best talent.

Target audience is young, educated, urban Muslims:

The company has clearly identified its target audience and their media consumption needs: young, educated Muslims in the non-Muslim world who are digitally connected, are hungry for a positive portrayal of Islam and for programming that is new and engaging.

 

The founder of Alchemiya considers the needs of this important customer segment to be unmet by existing media content: “This unserved demographic (GUMmies) are clustered in cities all over the world… we seek to attract a customer base that is the vanguard of global Islam,” said Navid Akhtar, Alchemiya CEO and Founder. (Interviewed for State of the Global Islamic Economy 2014-15 report by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with DinarStandard)

Shariah-compliant capital

Diversification of Shariah-compliant funding sources:

The company’s financing is compliant with Islamic finance principles in that it is based on equity and risk-sharing.

Initial seed funding for the platform came from individuals as well as from crowdfunded equity. Alchemiya also raised funds by selling advance subscriptions in the pre-launch phase. Navid Akhtar’s intention was to employ the “Lean Start Up” methodology and the Islamic finance principles of shared risk and ownership.

To raise funding in 2015, Alchemiya launched an equity crowdfunding campaign on CrowdCube and raised 117,320 pounds ($182,203) - more than its target.

 

Now that they have achieved wide media coverage, they are receiving investment inquiries from both Muslims and non-Muslims and will launch a Series A round for up to $5 million this year. 

Company opportunities

Appealing to non-Muslims:

There is an opportunity for the channel to appeal to non-Muslims. It already has some non-Muslim subscribers as well as non-Muslim potential investors, but beyond the early adopters the company has a wider opportunity to appeal to non-Muslims, with its high quality, engaging content.

Favorable demographics:

Alchemiya is positioned to experience significant revenue growth, backed by: 1) The attractive Muslim demographics, with a young population that is growing at twice the global rate, 2) Muslims in the West keen to explore their identity, 3) Continued growth of the Muslim lifestyle sector. 

Company challenges

Finding and developing talent quickly enough:

The main challenge the company has faced, as it has scaled rapidly, is developing talent. In their two key areas of operation, content and marketing, they need individuals who have insight into the Muslim community, its likes, dislikes, tastes and the various sub-groups and what drives them.

“In both of these areas, there are a limited number of people who can demonstrate relevant experience and often they are in big demand. We are lucky that being based in London, we have access to skilled talent who learn fast and care about our mission to present a positive image about Islam,” said Navid Akhtar.

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS


Identify customer segments that are high growth and determine their unmet needs
Develop quality content 
Diversify funding sources – use crowdfunding as well as Venture Capital firms

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