Riyadh, KSA (27 June 2019) – Noon Academy, , an online learning platform that operates throughout the Middle East, announced today that it has raised $8.6 million in series A funding. The round was co-led by Raed Ventures and STV with participation from institutional investor Alisamiah Investment in addition to a number of private investors including Careem co-founder Abdulla Elyas, Dr. Abdulrahman Aljadhai, CEO of Elm, and Mazen Aljubai, with support from Saudi Venture Capital company (SVC). This round represents the company’s first institutional capital raise, and the largest capital raise in MENA’s EdTech industry. The company will use the funding to continue building its engineering and product teams, double down on growth in its existing markets, and launch into new markets.

Noon Academy was founded in 2013 by Mohammed Aldhalaan and Dr. Abdulaziz AlSaeed, as a simple test prep website capitalizing on the regional opportunity in private tutoring. Six years down the line and thousands of data-driven experiments later, Noon Academy has transformed into a full-fledged social learning platform that allows students to study with friends in groups, compete with one another, and request top tutors on demand. On average an active student spends over 55 minutes on the app per each day using the platform, almost four times the EdTech industry average of 14 minutes per day.

The unique platform offers tutoring and free educational content through a ‘freemium’ revenue model that allows all users free access to basic content, and charges users for access to private tutors and more advanced content. The app has attracted 2 million students, and 1,500 certified tutors to date. Noon Academy also focuses on helping students pass the Saudi general aptitude test and the achievement test, and unlike competitors, is accredited from the Saudi National Centre of Assessment (QIYAS). Recently, Noon Academy began serving students in Egypt, a key market for the platform in the Arab region.

Commenting on the investment, Mohammed Aldhalaan, Co-Founder and CEO of Noon Academy, said: “The biggest issue in studying isn’t comprehension; rather, it’s boredom, and that’s where Noon Academy’s unique social learning platform achieves what others can’t. Noon is transforming into an open platform, where teachers around the world can start their own educational groups, allowing exceptional teachers to organically cultivate their own following and generate additional income through excellent performance and positive reviews. This approach not only dramatically improves student motivation, but also allows exceptional teachers to teach thousands of students in one group, making high-quality education accessible and affordable to the masses.”

Raed Ventures’ founding partner, Omar Almajdouie added: “We see incredible promise in this industry, and in Noon Academy in particular, and look forward to seeing how Mohammed and Abdulaziz will continue to build this exciting company. Many platforms are working on accessibility of education, but Noon has a unique focus on students’ motivation, which tackles the real problem students face today.”

Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, CEO of STV, added: “With around 6 million students in Saudi Arabia alone, and far more across the wider region, providing better access to education and study opportunities has never been more important. We’re very excited about this sector and the vision of Mohammed and Abdulaziz in creating Noon academy, which combines technology with great teachers to make studying easier and more efficient for millions of students across the Middle East.”

Globally, EdTech funding reached $16.3bn in 2018, according to market research firm Metaari, with 76% of funding shared between the US and China alone. The sector remains on an upward trajectory as rapid advances in education mean classroom-based knowledge quickly becomes outdated, necessitating continuing education, even among experienced professionals. EdTechXGlobal predicts the EdTech market will reach $252 billion by 2020.

Noon currently employees a team of over 90, hailing from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and India to handle technology, management and supply chain issues. The Noon Academy platform relies on state-of-the-art technology and creative design, built by an experienced team of engineers, designers and content creators who improve user experience, video creation, design, scripting, and product development. Around 50 part time employees contribute to the development of original content on the app. Noon was named one of the World Economic Forums’ 100 most promising Arab Startups in 2019.

Omar Almajdouie, Founding Partner at Raed Ventures, Hani Enaya, Partner at STV, and Abdullah Elyas, Careem Co-founder, will join Noon Academy’s Board of Directors.

# End #

About Noon Academy
Launched in 2013 with just two tutors and less than 30 students by two Saudi entrepreneurs, Mohammed Aldhalaan and Dr. Abdulaziz Alsaeed, Noon Academy today has more than 2 million students and 1,500 certified tutors in Saudi Arabia alone. It plans to enrol 50 million students in five years by expanding to other emerging markets.
www.noonacademy.com

About RAED Ventures
Backed by Almajdouie Holding, Raed Ventures is the leading Saudi early stage venture capital firm established in 2015. It provides funding for seed and early stage startups in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region, and boasts a portfolio of 22 startups including some of MENA’s most promising and fastest growing. Raed Ventures’ interests encompass various industries including EdTech, FinTech, Logistics, Digital Health, RetailTech, Entertainment, Industrial, and Managerial Support.
www.raed.vc

About STV
STV is the largest venture capital funds management firm in the Middle East. With over $500 million in deployable capital, STV backs and scales the region’s most exciting and disruptive technology companies. STV began operations in early 2018 and has offices in Riyadh and Dubai.

https://stv.vc/

Media Contact
[email protected]

Mrsool, the leading Saudi on-demand delivery service, has completed a multimillion-dollar series A investment round led by Raed Ventures and STV. Saudi angel investor Mazen Al Jubeir also joined the funding round. This transaction marks Mrsool’s first fundraising to tap the on-demand delivery industry – a sector with significant growth potential in a region driven by increasing consumer adoption of digital and mobile commerce. The capital will be used to expedite Mrsool’s expansion plans in Saudi Arabia and the wider region.

Founded in 2015 by Ayman Al Sanad and Naif al Samri, Mrsool is the first and largest on-demand delivery network in Saudi Arabia, with a total of 4 million registered users at the end of 2018. Mrsool can deliver anything, from anywhere, in just minutes, crowdsourcing delivery by matching shoppers with couriers. Users place orders for items from any store in their city, which can then be fulfilled by any other user willing to act as courier by purchasing and delivering the items. Mrsool processed more than SAR 1 billion (approx. $ 270 million) in transactions in 2018.

The app’s potential hinges on rapidly growing consumer demand for fast delivery services and Mrsool’s user-friendly experience. It fulfils orders beyond food to include instant delivery, targeting merchants, local groceries and department stores in addition to food deliveries.

Commenting on the investment, Mrsool’s Co-Founders said: “We have established our footprint and grown remarkably in the Saudi market, building on our customer service satisfaction. This round comes at the right time, especially with Mrsool looking to strengthen its position amongst the leading Saudi on-demand delivery service companies while also exploring the opportunity to access other regional markets.”

Hani Enaya, Partner at STV, said: “Mrsool is exactly the type of company we like to partner with: an incredibly ambitious firm providing innovative products attuned to the needs of the region. We believe Mrsool is a unique player in this industry due to a deep understanding of MENA consumers. The founders Ayman and Naif really understand their home market and have developed an original user experience which appeals to local consumer needs – there are no other apps quite like this in the region. The Mrsool business model has been validated through significant organic growth since it was founded two years ago.”

“Consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to the convenience of instantaneous delivery of goods. We believe the offline-to-online shift in the global delivery market will be even more amplified in the MENA region, supported by extremely high mobile penetration rates in markets like Saudi and the UAE,” Dr. Enaya added.

Fuelling the Middle Eastern on-demand economy are record mobile penetration rates throughout the MENA region. GSMA, the trade body representing mobile network operators worldwide,
estimates that 76% of the GCC population are mobile subscribers, with mobile device penetration reaching 93% in Saudi Arabia. In 2017, 22.85 million people in the Kingdom accessed the internet through their mobile phones, and this figure is projected to reach 26.44 million users by 2022, according to business intelligence portal Statista.

Jay Alammar, Principal at STV, and Omar Almajdouie, Founding Partner at Raed Ventures, will both join Mrsool’s Board of Directors.

About Mrsool
Mrsool is the first and largest on-demand delivery network in Saudi Arabia. It has created the newest technology for delivering goods quickly and efficiently, facilitating the delivery of anything, from anywhere, in just minutes. The app crowdsources delivery by matching shoppers with couriers, or maraseel. Users place orders for items from any store in their city, which can then be fulfilled by any other user willing to act as courier by purchasing and delivering the items. Founded in 2015 by Ayman Al Sanad and Naif al Samri, Mrsool is looking to build on its strength in the Saudi market to explore growth opportunities in the wider MENA region. https://mrsool.co/

About Raed
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 region’s most promising and fast-growing startups. To-date, their portfolio includes 20 startups from various sectors including logistics, F&B, insurance and data analytics. http://raed.vc/

About STV
STV is the largest venture capital fund in the Middle East. With over $500 million in deployable capital, STV backs and scales the region’s most exciting and disruptive technology companies. STV began operations in early 2018 and has offices in Riyadh and Dubai. https://stv.vc/

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.”

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.

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”.

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.

Trukker is an on-demand truck aggregator network with a focus on connecting smaller operators with shipping firms. It is relying on technology as a key to growth. The company has grown rapidly in 2017 and is preparing to expand its operations in 2018 to the GCC.

Raed Ventures led the Trukker’s first investment round of $1.4m with the participation of RTF, 500Startups and Alshareef Group Holding. The round aims to enhance and expand the company’s business in the region.

“The trucking industry has remained traditional for a very long time, relying on brokers to connect trucking companies and shippers, an uneven process, which is ready for technology-based transformation,” said founder and CEO Gaurav Biswas.

“Our services and products are designed to fill the gap between what the industry requires from an organized transportation company and what services are received from the unorganized small and individual owner-drivers.”

Malaeb, a Bahrain-based startup that lets people book sports venues has raised seed investment led by Raed Ventures with participation from two other Saudi-based VCs, Vision Ventures and Inspire Ventures, and 500 Startups.

Malaeb co-founded by Ahmed AlRawi and Yasser Hadi, Malaeb through its mobile applications help people find and book sports venues near them. The startup currently allows booking of football fields only but has plans to introduce other sports as well. Users can also create teams and challenge others using Malaeb’s mobile applications.

Malaeb that has hundreds of fields registered with them, has helped more than 100,000 players play their favorite sport until now. “I’m very happy to see the progress we reached to so far which led to this investment. Malaeb has grown rapidly in less than a year and a half. We are operating in 4 countries and we helped over 100,000 players play their favorite sport. You can find and book your football field from the app, as it is very difficult to find the suitable field and go through the booking process. We offer hundreds of sports fields to solve that issue,” said Ahmed AlRawi, the Co-Founder & CEO of Malaeb.

Currently available in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi, Malab has plans to expand into other countries of the region.

Malaeb will use the investment to accelerate its growth in GCC and build smart technologies to create unique experience for football players. “This is only the beginning for Malaeb, and we have a long way ahead with plenty of challenges that we’re looking forward to as we reach to our vision to create an unconventional social experience to the way sports are played. We are focusing on further expansion in Saudi and other GCC countries, and other surrounding countries soon after. Introducing other sports is also something in our plans where you can book and play almost any sport.” he added.

Posts navigation