The company will screen short films at the Cannes Film Festival where it will represent Saudi filmmakers as part of the newly-constituted Saudi Film Council.
Telfaz11, a Saudi digital media company with 20 million YouTube subscribers to its network, said it has received $9 million in funding from lead investor Saudi Technology Ventures (STV). VentureSouq has also joined the Series A round of funding.
The investment will be used by the company to build capacity, accelerate revenues and scale operations as Saudi Arabia ushers in a new era of entertainment that began late last year with the lifting of a 35-year-old ban on cinema halls in the Kingdom.
By combining narratives drawn from the local culture with elements of humour, Telfaz11 has produced a number of YouTube shows, including Temsa7LY, Khambalah, Alkhallat, and Telfaz11 Top 5.
The platform has gained widespread popularity, the release stated, across the region through its engaging content that has influenced social trends and given a voice to the Saudi community.
“Since the inception of Telfaz11 in 2011, our goal has been to support the growth of Saudis entertainment sector by creating local creative online content that resonates strongly with domestic and GCC audiences,” said CEO Alaa Yousef Fadan.
“Saudi Arabias ongoing wave of economic diversification has unlocked a new era of entertainment in the country, opening doors to a whole new world of opportunities for local players like Telfaz11 and attracting tremendous investor interest in the Saudi market,” he added.
Commenting on the investment, Fadan said: “Having such leading partners on board will allow us to benefit from their extensive knowledge and expertise and provide a significant boost to our creative output and production capabilities.”
“In our pursuit to become the definitive media technology company for the social age, these investments will help accelerate our long-term growth plans, as we channel the funds towards expanding our team and exploring new platforms and verticals,” he noted.
Waleed Alballaa, partner at STV, said: “We believe the digital and entertainment ecosystems in Saudi Arabia are ripe for disruption and can unlock value on a regional level. Investing in Telfaz11 will further strengthen our commitment to investing in digital media trailblazers that are shaping the future of the Kingdoms digital landscape through innovation and ambition.”
“VentureSouq believes that home-grown companies with Saudi DNA will drive the kingdoms transformation from an industrial-based to a knowledge and technology-based economy,” noted Alballaa.
“As the country moves full steam ahead to realise its digital potential, we believe that investing in companies like Telfaz11 that are capable of realising and scaling their growth ambitions is once-in-a-generation opportunity,” noted Maan Eshgi, partner at VentureSouq.
“We are looking forward to working closely with the Telfaz11 team to align our strategic goals and help the network grow their reach and expand their offering through new avenues,” he added.
Telfaz11 was listed among the top 50 startups in Saudi Arabia in 2016 by Forbes Middle East, and has screened three of its short films at Paramount Studios to a number of top Hollywood executives and actors as part of the Saudi Film Days festival. In May, the company will be screening short films at the Cannes Film Festival where it will be representing Saudi filmmakers along with the Saudi Film Council.
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