Startup Ecosystem Newsletter | April 2019

Startup Ecosystem News, April 2019, Amazon.ae, Awok, fundiraising, Hub71, Souq.com, Muabadala, Venture by Invest Saudi, Shedul, Eyewa, uDrive, ArabyAds, Lunchon, protenders, Yallacompare, 360vuz,, melltoo, the luxury closet, tlc, startupbootcamp, fintech, Sheraa, AccelerateHer, IKEA, IKEA Forward, SAGIA, Bayut,, Proepertyfinder

Souq.com is now Amazon.ae, over 15 fundings announced, UAE announces 5 year visas for entrepreneurs, and more in the April 2019 edition of the Startup Ecosystem News.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Souq.com rebrands to Amazon.ae. Two years after buying Souq for $580 million, Amazon rebranded Souq.com to Amazon.ae. Souq.com will remain however available in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • UAE named as fintech hotspot in the Middle East. Bloomberg Intelligence says the UAE has 67 fintech start-ups, followed by Turkey and Jordan and Lebanon.
  • UAE Government grants long-term visas for the top 100 startups shaping the fourth industrial revolution. Among these startups are Dtec Ventures backed companies: 360Vuz, Cognitev, Melltoo, The Luxury Closet & Yallacompare. Concurrently, Bahrain announces new programme to support the Top 100 Startups in gaining access to Bahrain market and access to funding from Bahrain VCs and family offices.
  • Dtec Ventures backed startup, Algodriven, joins the 500 Startups Batch 3 of the MENA Dojo Series A Program, together with 13 other startups.
  • Mubadala Investment Company launches Abu Dhabi Catalyst Partners, a $1 billion fund, based in ADGM and will look into opportunities in the UAE and abroad in the space of specialty finance, financial infrastructure & asset management.
  • Emirati government to issue 5-year residences visas for qualified entrepreneurs, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi’s Hub71 and Dubai Future Foundation’s Area 2071. The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship will be in charge of issuing the residency visas while HUB71 and Area2071 will nominate entrepreneurs for receiving the benefits of the initiative.
  • Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority has launched VENTURE by Invest Saudi, a new initiative aimed at attracting global venture capital firms to the Kingdom. VENTURE by Invest Saudi platform will also provide streamlined licensing procedures for venture capital portfolio companies.
  • Hub71 announced that two new partners, Techstars and Starburst, will join the tech hub in the fourth quarter of this year.

INVESTMENTS| GCC-BASED STARTUPS

  • AWOK.com (mass market e-commerce, UAE) – $30 million Series A, led by StonePine ACE Partners et al
  • Schedul (salon & spa booking platform, UAE) – $20 million Series B led by Partech Ventures (USA)
  • Eyewa (eyewear commerce, UAE) – $7.5 million Series A, led by Wamda Capital
  • ArabyAds (adtech, UAE) – $6.5 million Series A, from Equitrust (Choueiri Group)
  • Udrive (car rental app, UAE) – $5 million Series B, from undisclosed investors
  • ProTenders (construction intelligence, UAE) – $3 million Pre-Series A, from UAE-based investors
  • LunchOn (food delivery, UAE) – $2.5 million additional Series A, from Shorooq Investments, B&Y Ventures et all
  • Oliv (careers platform, UAE) – $2 million Series A, led by Aloshban and Alnamlah Family Groups (KSA)
  • Searchie (online recruitment platform, UAE) – $2 million Seed round, from family offices
  • Pointcheckout (rewards payment platform, UAE) – $600,000 Seed round, from Dtec Ventures, Arzan, et al
  • Kerning Cultures (podcast network, UAE) – $460,000 Seed round, led by 500 Startups
  • Sary (wholesale market platform, KSA) – undisclosed amount, undisclosed investor
  • YaLLa Esports (esports team, UAE) – undisclosed six-figure amount, angel investors incl. Kushal Shah
  • Foodics (POS solutions provider, UAE) – undisclosed amount, Bridge round, from Faith Capital
  • Haseel (online grocery platform, KSA) – undisclosed amount & round, led by Riyadh Taqnia Fund
  • Inagrab (AI deal assistant, Bahrain) – undisclosed amount, Seed round, from Faith Capital
  • Jump the Q (grocery delivery, UAE) – undisclosed amount, Pre-Seed Round, from angel investor

STARTUP NEWS

  • Bayut (real-estate portal) acquires Middle East Internet Group’s real estate portal, Lamudi which covers all its assets in KSA, UAE and Jordan
  • Uber partner with Egypt-based Dryve, a peer to peer car sharing platform
  • Propertyfinder.com acquires rival JRD Group (UAE), following the $120 million investment the former has received from General Atlantic in November 2018
  • Dubai’s Property Finder acquired Bahraini property portal ‘Bahrain Property World’
  • MEVP partially exits Shedul. MEVP still remains the largest Series A investor in the company and is the only one from the region to have a seat on the board.

VC NEWS

  • Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), the recently created government-owned VC firm has signed letters of commitment with 6 VC funds to invest over $133 million in them. The VCs that SVC has signed these commitments with include: STV, Raed Ventures, Derayah Ventures, Impact46, Merak Capital and Gobi 8point Capital.
  • Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) has launched a new initiative called has launched VENTURE by Invest Saudi, aimed at attracting global venture capital firms to the Kingdom. VENTURE by Invest Saudi platform will provide streamlined licensing procedures for venture capital portfolio companies. Offering an ‘instant license’ that will enable companies to more easily tap into the Saudi market. More than 20 venture capital firms have signed agreements including Wamda, Beco, STV, Flat6labs, VentureSouq, 500Startups.

ACCELERATOR / INCUBATOR

  • Startupbootcamp’s Fintech accelerator selects top 10 startups to join its latest cohort
  • Sheraa activates its Seed program for early stage startups and will award a total grant pool of $300,000 to help turn ideas to a sustainable model
  • AccelerateHer: DIFC FinTech Hive launches career mentorship programme to empower female talent in the fields of financial services and technology
  • IKEA launches “IKEA FORWARD” accelerator in KSA and Bahrain which will select 4 startups for a 3-month scale-up program

COWORKING

  • Hub71 partners with TechStars and aerospace accelerator Starburst in its bid to build a global tech ecosystem. Plug N Play also announces Hub71 as its regional headquarters

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Webinar: 5 Tips on How to Discover Investors Relevant to Your Stage – 08 May, Dubai

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