Flutterwave acquires Disha, a creator platform that planned to shutter in February

In February, Disha, a Nigeria-based platform that allows digital creators to curate, sell digital content, create portfolios and receive payments from their audience globally, announced that it was closing shop.

Before the news, Disha had bootstrapped to more than 20,000 users; at some point, it claimed to have a monthly growth rate of about 100%. Three days after announcing its shutdown, however, Disha did an about-face and said it was thinking of new options for the company and would share an update once it made a new decision.

Earlier this month, a Twitter user noticed Disha FAQs on Flutterwave’s support documents, suggesting that the unicorn company might have acquired the creator platform. Although Disha’s FAQs have been removed, Flutterwave confirmed to TechCrunch today that it has indeed bought the two-year-old platform. The terms of the deal are undisclosed; however, some sources say the purchase price is in six figures.

While Flutterwave has been rumoured to acquire some startups in the past, this is its first public announcement of any acquisition since launching in 2016 to tackle Africa’s payments problems. And what’s more surprising is that the buy is outside payments or fintech.

Disha was founded by Evans Akanno and Rufus Oyemade in 2019 with Blessing Abeng joining a year later. The company is one of the well-known platforms built from Africa, including Selar and Irawo, targeting creators and influencers globally. Disha provided them with tools to create a one-page site to curate and share links, content, portfolios and a checkout system to receive payments.

Although Disha had users globally, its revenues were low, making slightly above $1,000 in monthly recurring revenue. With little revenues and limited resources, Disha showed signs of struggle; even ex-CEO attested to this in a recent LinkedIn post where he expressed burnout while running Disha and Cregital, a design agency he founded and was CEO, a role he stepped down from in September.

“We [the founders] decided to shut down the company because we ran out of resources to continue driving the very valid vision we had,” ex-CTO Oyemade told TechCrunch in an email. “With Flutterwave, we now have a way to drive both value for creators and revenue to sustain the business. We are happy to have gotten the call from Flutterwave, which actually kept hopes alive.”

Oyemade will continue to lead the technology behind the product with a new role as software and architectural lead. Akanno and Abeng, the ex-CMO, left the company to pursue other projects.

Flutterwave says Disha will continue to be an independent product with a distinct brand and operations. From now on, it wants to focus on features and integrations that help creators easily schedule meetings and exhibitions, build sustainable income through subscriptions and leverage emerging technologies in the creator space. 

Why did Flutterwave make this acquisition? Certainly, it will bolster Disha’s payments checkout process and grow the platform’s base by allowing users to make transactions in over 150 currencies and 34 countries worldwide. But most importantly, Flutterwave wants to take part in the $100 billion global creator economy.

The pandemic has created an opportunity for millions of freelancers and creators to use no-code tools to monetize their craft and community.

“Recently, we have diversified into building tools that will help freelancers, businesses and now creators grow,” Flutterwave CEO Olugbengba “GB” Agboola said in an email. “We saw Disha as an opportunity to capture a new market of indie creators that need innovative tools to showcase their craft and get paid. This acquisition cements our place as a growth partner for freelancers and businesses. For us, Flutterwave Store is to small businesses what Disha is to creators.”

Furthermore, there is an increasing appetite to create, own, sell or share digital experiences such as NFTs. With most of Disha’s customers based in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe, it is well-positioned to facilitate transactions around owning and selling these digital experiences.

Flutterwave knows that, and via this acquisition, the fintech is betting that Disha is its ticket to eat at that growing NFT table, where more than $10 billion was spent just in Q3 2020.

“Disha is a global tool and the global creator economy is enormous, and with NFTs growing in popularity, there’s no limit to how huge the creator economy can grow,” GB said.