In an initiative unprecedented in the Arab world, Raed Ventures announces the launch of Raed Plus, a unique set of programs that provide entrepreneurs with value-adding services critical to early-stage startups’ operations. Raed Plus is piloting with a strategic partnerships program delivered hand-in-hand with some of the best regional and international technology providers.
Agreements between Raed Ventures and more than 25 firms will deliver to Raed Venture’s portfolio companies free or heavily discounted services in addition to access to specialized international advisory expertise. Not only does the program facilitate startups’ growth and expansion but also promises savings of up to $400,000.
Omar Almajdouie, Founding Partner at Raed Ventures, says, “This program’s mission is to give all our portfolio companies equal opportunity to receive regular value-add services.”
Since 2015, Raed Ventures has been a pioneer venture capital firm investing in early-stage technology startups from Saudi Arabia and the MENA region. Raed Ventures is proud to have made investments in some of the regions most promising and fast-growing startups. To-date, their portfolio includes 20 startups from various sectors including logistics, F&B, insurance and data analytics.
Unifonic, the leading cloud communication platform for global emerging markets announced today it closed a $21M Series A round led by STV with participation from RTF, Endeavor Catalyst, ELM, and Raed Ventures. This transaction represents the first institutional capital raise for the company and is one of the largest Series A financings in the MENA region. The capital will be used to scale company growth and sales in multiple markets and industries and invest in further Unifonic product platform development, in particular, the advancement of its unique machine-learning models.
Founded in 2008, Unifonic provides cloud-based communication tools to business customers and enables integration of text- and voice-based solutions via its powerful API platform. By combining cloud-based software, telephony APIs and real-time data intelligence, Unifonic eliminates the need for costly hardware infrastructure and makes business communication simple, fast, and cost-effective. The company has been profitable for over 8 years, has experienced double-digit monthly revenue growth and has grown to over 100 employees in 5 countries.
Reid Hoffman, Linkedin Co-founder and Chairman of Endeavor Catalyst, along with Linda Rottenberg, Endeavor’s Co-founder and CEO, both applauded the deal. “Endeavor selects and connects the most promising global companies and entrepreneurs with experienced business advisors to help drive growth and economic development around the world. The founders of Unifonic were selected as high-impact Endeavor Entrepreneurs in 2013, and we are thrilled to announce the Endeavor Catalyst fund is now investing in Unifonic alongside STV as the company continues scaling up.”
Unifonic is reinventing cloud communications for emerging markets around the world. Today, Unifonic provides cloud-based access to more than 720 mobile networks in 190 countries across 9 regional markets, with over 5,000 business customers such as companies like Careem, Dominos Pizza, Jarir Bookstore, HungerStation, and others. “Unifonic is a great example of the type of founder-driven, capital-efficient business we want to “invest in. It has rapidly developed a leadership position in the fast-growing cloud communications market,” said Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, CEO of STV. “The founders have created a profitable and growing technology company, and we look forward to working together to take this to the next level.”
“Using the latest cloud communications technology, our company delivers tools and platforms that allow businesses to engage efficiently with customers all over the world,” said Ahmed Hamdan, CEO of Unifonic. “We are excited to be working with STV, RTF and investors from both Silicon Valley and other global markets that provide not only capital but also vast strategic experience in scaling high-impact innovative companies.”
Raed Ventures announced its investment in Aqarmap the leading and fastest growing real estate marketplace in Egypt with presence in Saudi Arabia. This round was led by Wamda Capital with participation from KISP Ventures. Aqarmap aims to solidify its presence in Egypt in addition to expanding its presence into new markets such as Saudi Arabia.
Amad Almsaodi, CEO and Founder of Aqarmap stated: “We are honored to have 3 of the leading VC firms in the MENA backing Aqarmap and believing in our vision. Despite our limited funding in the past, we managed to outperform all our competitors, and today we are bigger than all our direct competitors combined by all relevant metrics. We are especially proud that we generate more than 200,000 leads every month, and have helped sell more than 15,000 properties in 2017 worth 12 Billion Egyptian Pounds. We are going to use these new funds to solidify our existing leadership position in Egypt, grow our presence in Saudi Arabia, and expand into more markets.”
Omar Almajdouie, Founding Partner of Raed Ventures said: “We are proud to participate in Aqarmap’s latest round in support of Amad’s visionary leadership whose persistence allowed the company to achieve sustainable growth with limited resources.”
At Raed Ventures, we have had an eventful second quarter this year.
We expanded on our exceptional logistics portfolio by participating in Swvl’s series A round, one of the largest of its kind in Egypt. Established in April 2017, Swvl is an Egypt-based mobile technology startup providing a private
premium alternative to public transportation. Swvl connects commuters with shared rides in a network of high-quality buses. We are proud to join the journey of the three young entrepreneurs – Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah
and Mahmoud Nouh, who have built a strong team with experience from Careem, Google, Instabug, Uber, Quora, MENA Commerce, Rocket Internet and Delivery Hero.
We were also very proud to lead Salla’s seed investment round last May. As e-commerce in the GCC continues its exponential growth, Salla is making it super simple for small merchants to set up shop online with a variety of
integrations to payment, delivery and fulfillment services. We are excited to support the Salla team in their acceleration phase as they grow in Saudi and the GCC in addition to expanding on their offerings for merchants and
As our portfolio is growing, so is our footprint in the GCC region. We have now set up an office in the UAE, in partnership with Area 2071. Area 2071 is an initiative aiming to build an ecosystem of startups, investors, the youth, corporates, governments, and the public in order to co-create the future. Raed is proud to be part of this thriving ecosystem and excited to support more startups out of the UAE.
To support Raed’s continuous growth we have welcomed 2 new associates to
Mohammed Bakhsh joined the Saudi office. Mohammed has 8 years of experience in accounting and internal audit at Ernst & Young and Mawared Food Supplies Company. He has BA in Accounting from KFUPM and MBA from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK.
Nermine Chatila joined the UAE office. Nermine has 8 years of experience in innovative finance, management consulting and venture capital at NetGuarantee (New York), PwC and Womena. She received her BA in Economics from the American University of Beirut and MA in Economic Policy and Education at Columbia University.
Stay tuned to more updates on exciting new investments and initiatives for the next quarter.
Raed Ventures led the seed round of Salla platform with participation of Vision Ventures, Inspire Ventures, and Direct Influence company. This round aims to accelerate the growth in the local and regional markets and to create a unique experience for merchants and customers.
Salla is the most advanced and best platform for thousands of merchants over the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. All merchants can build their e-commerce stores easily within a couple of minutes and start selling directly to customers without any fees nor commissions. Salla offers a variety of integrations with payment, delivery, and fulfillment companies.
“E-Commerce is picking up in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia. We built a cutting-edge product with high end technology to help merchants to achieve their goals. Currently, The merchant can easily use more than thirty advanced services in Salla and we will continue developing all the features they need to grow” Nawaf Hariri, co-founder of the Salla commented.
Salla platform started in 2016 to provide a free service to all merchants through the main package (Salla basic) and this basic package will remain free of charge. Today, Any merchant can create his store at no cost and if he wants to get the advanced services, he can easily upgrade to the paid package (Salla plus) or (Salla team) within one click.
Egypt-based public transit tech startup, Swvl has secured USD 8 million in series A funding in an investment round led by BECO Capital with participation of Raed Ventures, DiGAME Investment Company, Silicon Badia, Oman Technology Fund, Arzan VC and Esther Dyson.
According to Mostafa Kandil, co-founder and CEO of Swvl, “the USD 8m round is the biggest Series A round in Egypt and one of the biggest rounds in the Middle East.” With the funding, Swvl will solidify its position in Egypt and establish the company as a global leader in the affordable smart mobility space, offering fixed routes for a fixed flat fare at prices that are up to 80% cheaper than on-demand ride-hailing services, with no surge or peak pricing.
According to Mostafa, “Swvl intends to invest 300 million EGP in the local market in the upcoming 3 years to empower as many micro-entrepreneurs as possible in Egypt and the region and to become one of the biggest job creators in the country.” Swvl is expected to expand beyond Egypt to other emerging markets across the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa region within 2018
Swvl was founded by three young entrepreneurs – Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh, who have built a strong team with experience from Careem, Google, Instabug, Uber, Quora, MENA Commerce, Rocket Internet, DeliveryHero as well as finalists of the Global Maths Competitions.
Established in April 2017, Swvl is an Egyptian mobile technology startup, a private premium alternative to public transportation that enables riders heading in the same direction to share a ride during rush hour. Swvl connects commuters with shared rides with a network of high-quality buses that Swvl established and covers now Cairo and Alexandria. Swvl runs its own fixed routes spread across the cities and customers gather at specific pick-up spots along the route to be driven to a common drop-off location. This lowers the overall cost of all these commutes and helps in saving time and money for all parties improving the overall system’s efficiency and making the process convenient and affordable to all stakeholders. By reinventing the daily commute of Egyptians, Swvl is appealing to a new generation of tech-savvy commuters as well as providing a social benefit.
Swvl comes as a solution to a range of problems on both the demand and supply sides. From the soaring fuel prices due to subsidy cuts and Cairo’s and Alexandria’s notorious traffic that costs the country 4% annually of GDP (4X the congestion costs in comparable cities) to the idle fleets of buses that were caused by the slowdown in tourism.
Raed Ventures continued its rapid and disciplined performance in the first quarter of 2018. Its five investments showed a qualitative picks for leading companies in several major regional industries such as logistics, real estate, automotive, and big data analytics.
The outstanding performance of Syarah, CrowdAnalyzer, and SocialDice led Raed Ventures to invest in the three companies for a second time. This second investment aims at accelerating the regional growth of the companies mentioned on the one hand and developing advanced technologies on the other.
Syarah is the fastest growing automotive classifieds in Saudi Arabia. Its highly advanced technology offers customers creative services such as; direct purchase from the site through cash or financiers.
When it comes to big data analysis from social media and the press, CrowdAnalyzer is the leading platform in the region. The advanced technology developed by CrowdAnalyzer, which specializes in analyzing the Arabic language with most its local dialects, makes the company a pioneer in their field.
Last but not least, SocialDice is a big data analytics engine specializing in automated recruitment. It’s destined to companies that aim at increasing the effectiveness of the recruitment process at a reduced cost. The company has succeeded at developing a unique algorithm that can automatically aggregate details about the potential candidates to filter them and organize the recruitment steps.
In a visionary approach to the technology of logistics and real estate sectors, Raed Ventures has invested in two promising companies whose names will be announced in coming months depending on the founders’ plans.
Tamatem has picked up $2.5 million in Series A funding. The round is led by Wamda Capital, with participation from Discovery Nusantara Capital, Raed Ventures, Vision Venture Capital, and Seed Equity Venture Partners. Tamatem Inc, is the leading game publisher in MENA and creates localized versions of popular games so that they resonate better with users in Arabic speaking countries,
The new capital will be used by Tamatem to enable it to close deals with more international game developers in order to capture a bigger market share in MENA. Also, to increase headcount as it bids to attract more quality talent in the region.
That, founder and CEO Hussam Hammo tells, is a long way from the startup’s early days when in 2013 local investors shunned Tamatem, citing its founder’s previous “failure” as co-founder of browser-based gaming studio ‘Wizards Productions’. After some initial success and a seed round, Wizards dead-pooled four years into its existence.
“When the company closed, I kept pushing to establish a mobile games company. The opportunity is huge!” he says. “Arabic is the fourth most spoken language, and almost no content is available on the app stores. I knocked on the doors of every investor I dealt with in the region, but their response was: your previous company failed, you will most probably fail again. I was a single founder and I had no team. I just had a couple of prototypes and an investment deck. I applied to 500 Startups, and they believed in me”.
To put the opportunity in context, Hammo says MENA’s mobile gaming market is “severely underserved” with less than 1 percent of app store games available in Arabic. This creates a huge gap for users who want to consume culturally relevant and localized mobile games. This doesn’t just mean translating the written or spoken parts of a game, but also other creative or story elements so that a title is relatable and will resonate in Arabic speaking countries.
For example, Tamatem localised the racing/drifting game Shake the Metal for the MENA market, including swapping out graphical elements and the soundtrack. The results garnered 5 million downloads.
Explains the startup’s founder: “When users worldwide think about this type of game, they will think about driving Ferraris and Lamborghinis. In the Middle East, users are interested in driving the Toyota Camry or the Hilux. Music was also a big win in our case, instead of using soundtracks, which a lot of the Saudi Arabia audience will consider religiously forbidden, we used a specific type of music that uses body sounds rather than instruments”.
Talal Al-Asmari, The managing partner at Raed Ventures, presented a lecture entitled “E-Commerce, The Promising Investment.” The lecture was hosted by the e-commerce committee at Riyadh Chamber. The target segment was the e-commerce owners and the entrepreneurs who would like to know more about the practical steps to present startups to investors in venture capital funds.
The lecture included four main sections:
Determine the real objective of your startup
The actual and promising investments in our region
How the investor will assess your startup
Preparing the investment round and its stages
This lecture is one of the educational initiatives offered by Raed Ventures for the community.
The presentation of the lecture is attached here for the benefit of all.
GoldenScent is a Saudi-based beauty ecommerce platform, announced today closing a Series A round led by Saudi Aramco, Entrepreneur Venture and Equitrust along with Wamda Capital and Raed Ventures.
This funding accentuates and reflects the increasing growth of the online beauty market in the GCC region, as Golden Scent mentioned in their statement. The new fund will be used to grow Golden Scent, and allow it to introduce new product categories, along with marketing their new app.
Founded by end 2014, Golden Scent has been growing to become one of the leading beauty online e-shopping platforms in the Kingdom.
“The company has already broken even, achieving a double digit million dollar in revenues. The strong growth as well as the vision and excellence of the founders who built Golden Scent to the number one beauty online destination in the GCC, has led us to invest in this excellent opportunity,” said Omar Almajdouie, managing partner and founder of Raed Ventures.