Introduction

The job of venture capitalists has many facets and only one of them is writing a cheque. The role of a VC is to help the founder throughout his journey, which starts before he or she even raises money. As part of Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus, we see it as our mission and responsibility to help founders by sharing our knowledge and allow them to draw from our experience.

Founders must be jack of all trades which is not an easy job. Often founders are first time entrepreneurs that have never built a company from scratch or have raised funding before. The good news is, there is more information available for free now than ever before. The internet is full of great content covering all different aspects of the life of a startup.

The team of Dtec Ventures has made the attempt to filter and compile the best content ranging from pitch deck templates up to tips on how to negotiate with VCs. Because we are an investor in the MENA region with an emphasis on Dubai, we have also collected a selection of content that helps founders to navigate the regional specifics. Which blogs keep you up to date about the latest startup news in the region? Which investors exist and at what stage do they invest? What are the best startup events to build a network? This and many more questions you might have are hopefully answered in this guide.

Must read/watch for entrepreneurs

There is content out there that is simply too good to be missed. The selection below is a list of articles, books and videos that we believe are must read/listen/watch for every entrepreneur. While we don't want to label them as the canon of entrepreneurial knowledge, but they probably get close to it.

  1. ‘How to Start a Startup’ by Paul Graham
  2. YCombinator ‘How to Startup a Startup’ lecturer series If you have time, watch the entire series if you can. That might be a little of an overdose, but try to watch at least the first three Lectures
  3. 'Why the Lean Start-Up Changes Everything' by Steve Blank
  4. 'What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence' by Stephen A Schwarzman
  5. 'The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers' by Ben Horowitz
  6. 'The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business Like Amazon' by Steve Anderson
  7. 'Venture Deals - Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist' by Brad Feld
  8. 'REWORK' by Jason fried
  9. 'Mastery' by Robert Greene
  10. ‘Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action’ by Simon Sinek
  11. 'The Lean Startup' by Eric Ries
  12. 'Lean Presentation design' by Maurizio La Cava

Because there is so much qualitative content we imposed a self-limitation. We don’t want that you drown in information but actually really read and absorb all the encapsulated wisdom.

Fundraising

Fundraising is a topic high on the agenda of every entrepreneur. Each day in the news we see headlines of startups announcing that they have raised millions of dollars in funding. But to get to that point is a long and difficult journey. That doesn't mean it is impossible, however the funding announcement is only the culmination point of weeks and months of work. The investment process itself can be lengthy and daunting. While good VCs don’t take advantage of it, founders are at a disadvantage given that they lack the knowledge and experience to raise funds. With the below selection of content, we try to equip founders with the required knowledge to get ready for fundraising and grab the attention from investors.

Pitch deck:

  1. ‘The quick and dirty guide to creating a winning pitch deck’ This guide walks you through the essential slides that must appear in a pitch deck. This is an indicative and well-rounded structure. In case you believe you need to incorporate more details on certain topics, please add these slides in the annexes.
  2. ‘Best pitch decks’ This blog post provides many tips & tricks to make your message stand out and illustrates these tips with real example.
  3. ‘Startups - What is a pitch deck presentation’ A list of recommended slides from top VCs (500Startups, Sequoia Capital, etc.) and piece of advice on how to grab investors’ attention.
  4. ‘Forbes - Best pitch decks’, ‘Startup pitch decks: what you can learn’ A collection of pitch decks from unicorn companies, including Uber, Snapchat, Airbnb, when they were raising during their early stage.

Investment instruments (priced equity vs. convertibles)

Equity Financing

  1. ‘Bring on outside investors - Equity financing steps’ This link explains how to approach equity financing, from your ask (amount raised and valuation) to the steps and documents to close a funding round.

Convertible vs. KISS vs. SAFE

  1. ‘Article 1’, ‘Article 2’ These pages list the differences between these three financing methods and terms usually used for each (valuation cap, discount, maturity) and implications for the entrepreneur and investors.
  2. ‘YCombinator - Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE)’ On this page you can find the YCombinator SAFE templates and explanation.
  3. ‘500Startups - Keep It Simple Security (KISS)’ The official 500Startups KISS page with the templates for the Debt and Equity versions.

Term sheet & Deal terms

  1. ‘Term Sheet guide’ This guide walks you through the key clauses appearing in a term sheet from the economics to the terms usually negotiated between founders and investors. It also addresses the company governance post investment (voting rights, board rights, etc.).

Due diligence

  1. ‘Due Diligence guide’, ‘YCombinator - Due Diligence checklist’ These pages summarize an investor’s approach to due diligence, the multiple points under review and documents asked to the founders. The level of details and documents requested varies depending on the funding stage (seed, Series A/B/C+), industry, and type of business.

Cap table

  1. ‘What is a cap table?’ This page summarizes the essence of a capitalization table, which is a comprehensive spreadsheet listing all of your company’s securities.
  2. ‘Sample cap table’ Through this link you can download a standard cap table spreadsheet.
  3. ‘Cap table template’ Another template to be downloaded with instructions in the excel file.

Negotiation tactics

  1. ‘Top skills for founders in startup fundraising’ A set of negotiation points usually discussed between VCs and entrepreneurs, and tips to address them from a founders’ standpoint.
  2. ‘HBR - How to negotiate with VCs’ Tips & recommendations from a Harvard Business School professor on how to negotiate with VCs during fundraising.

Pitfalls

  1. ‘Forbes - Five mistakes to avoid while fundraising for your startups’ This article lists the major pitfalls encountered by entrepreneurs when fundraising, from raising too early to raising at too high valuation.
  2. ‘The problem of startup valuation going too high or too low’ An interesting article on the consequences of raising at a too low or too high valuation.

MENA specific

Blogs/News sites

  1. 'Wamda' Wamda is not only one of the largest VC in the MENA but also an excellent source of information for news & research report on the local startup ecosystem.
  2. 'MENAbytes' A popular news website dedicated to technology and local startups.
  3. 'Magnitt - News' Magnitt is the most popular platform in the MENA for startups & investors. Access hundreds of reports, daily news on investments and apply directly to dozens of VCs for funding.
  4. 'Startup MGZN' A digital publication and community for startups in the Middle East.
  5. 'Entrepreneur - Middle East' Advice, insight, profiles and guides for established and aspiring entrepreneurs worldwide. Home of Entrepreneur magazine.
  6. 'Arabian Business - Startup' Read all the latest news on the startups, investors, venture capitalist, founders, and latest technology in the Middle East.
  7. 'Bloomberg - Middle East' Bloomberg publishes daily business and markets news, data, analysis, and video, featuring stories from Businessweek and Bloomberg News.

Startup Directories

  1. 'Magnitt' A MENA-focused directory of startups. Create your profile in a few minutes.
  2. 'Arabnet' Another directory of startups, Arabnet also hosts one of the most popular startup conferences in our region.
  3. 'AngelList' The largest directory of startups globally and a platform to connect with investors, accelerators, and talents.

Research & Reports

  1. 'MAGNiTT - Research' MAGNiTT publishes regular reports on the state of the startup ecosystem, trends and funding.
  2. 'Wamda - Research' Another source of detailed reports and analysis on investments in the region.
  3. 'Arabnet - Business Intelligence' Arabnet has developed exclusive studies and reports, one of the most popular being "the state of digital".
  4. 'Dubai Chamber - Publications & Reports' The directory of publications from the Dubai Chamber for both public and private sectors.

Conferences

  1. 'Step Conference' Step is the largest, annual tech festival in Dubai for startups to showcase their potential.
  2. 'RiseUp Summit' One of the MENA region's largest innovation and entrepreneurship summits, taking place in the heart of Downtown Cairo annually.
  3. 'Arabnet - Conferences' Arabnet is a leading events, insights and innovation platform focused on tech business and innovation in the MENA region.
  4. 'Gitex Future Stars' Co-located with GITEX Technology Week, GITEX Future Stars gives start-ups a global stage on which to shine and meet with potential partners and investors.
  5. 'Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival' A relatively new and upcoming festival for entrepreneurs hosting many world-class speakers and pitch competitions.

Venture building: UAE Accelerators / Incubators

  1. 'AI Venture Labs' Accelerator program for pre-Series A startups in the expansion phase with completed seed financing
  2. 'C3 Social Impact Accelerator' Focused on revenue-generating startups with at least two years of operations and contributing to at least one of the 'UN Sustainable Development Goals'
  3. 'Catalyst' Abu-Dhabi based accelerator focused on sustainability and clean technology startups
  4. 'Dubai Future Accelerators' Facilitates partnerships between entrepreneurs, private sector organizations and government entities to co-create solutions to specific challenges
  5. 'Fintech Hive' With programs developed to help FinTech, InsurTech, RegTech and Islamic FinTech startups create solutions for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region’s largest financial industry and insurance partners.
  6. 'Intelak' Supports innovative aviation, travel and tourism startups
  7. 'KryptoLabs' Offers 4-month custom-training program for startups at the idea and/or MVP stage. Recently partnered with UAE Space Agency to offer a program for technologies in Space Sciences
  8. 'Mohamed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund Accelerator' For UAE-based post-ideation stage startups in the fields of education, clean energy, water, transport, health and space
  9. 'Plug and Play Tech Center' Runs 3 accelerator programs: Fintech, Travel & Hospitality, and Health
  10. 'Startupbootcamp FinTech Dubai' Operated by Startupbootcamp and focused on innovations in financial services
  11. 'Sheraa' Offers programs for startups of different stages: Pre-Seed, Seed, Series A
  12. 'Starburst' A 12-month accelerator program for aerospace technologies
  13. 'StartAD Corporate Sprint Accelerator' A 14-day program for seed stage startups in the construction and sustainable development sectors
  14. 'TechStars Hub71' Designed for startups across a variety of verticals, all focused on innovations that will accelerate Abu Dhabi’s new world economy
  15. 'The Greenhouse' Retail tech-accelerator program that runs twice a year for 3 months, offering startups with market access and retail expertise
  16. 'Womena' Early-stage accelerator for women-led tech startups from across the MENA region

Published Reports

  1. 'Access to Talent for MENA's Entrepreneurs, 2016' In this report, based on a survey of 963 entrepreneurs and 1,697 workforce participants, the Wamda Research Lab (WRL) aims to shed light on the trends and challenges of talent acquisition within MENA’s startup ecosystem as well as offer recommendations addressed to ecosystem stakeholders on how to overcome these challenges
  2. 'Digital Middle East: Transforming the region into a leading digital economy, 2016' Analyses the state of digitisation in the Middle East. Its purpose is to assess what the region has achieved, gauge the potential value that the continued adoption of digital could generate, and offer recommendations for how public and private sector digital leaders can address gaps and pursue opportunities
  3. 'Invest Tech: The era of opportunity in MENA, 2016' Published by Grant Thornton and BECO Capital, the report provides a look at the technology investment landscape in the MENA region
  4. 'Digital future of the Arab region, 2017' The document sets out the features of the digital economy in developed countries and their plans in this field. It also reviews the status of technology across the world, the status of information and communication technology (ICT) in the Arab region, and the potential of Arab countries to shift to a digital economy
  5. 'MENA Talent Competitiveness Index 2017' Provides insights on current state of employment private sector development in the MENA region and evaluates talent competitiveness of countries in the region
  6. 'The Cloud Report - Navigating the Cloud as a Dubai Startup-up, 2017' The report explores the cloud services and deployment models that are being used by peers, as well as the drivers, barriers and other factors that are influencing decision-making around cloud implementation in this market, with the objective of providing insights for startups on the best practices.
  7. 'The U.A.E's Startup Ecosystem and Opportunities for U.S. Investors, 2017' This report gives an overview of U.A.E. startups, detail why startups are making the U.A.E. their home and why they are experiencing so much success, and highlight opportunities available to U.S. investors in this space and resources that investors can draw on when entering the market.
  8. '2017 MENA Venture Report' Published by MENAbytes through its database trackMENA, it looks at important developments in terms of funding activity, new players and exits in 2017
  9. '2018 MENA Venture Investment Summary' This report highlights the latest trends in venture capital funding across the MENA region including breakdown by stage, industry and geography amongst others.
  10. '2019 MENA FinTech Venture Report' Magnitt partners with ADGM for a deep-dive into the financial technology (FinTech) industry across the Middle East and North Africa, including venture investments, successful exits, FinTech growth drivers, sub-industries, country comparisons, international benchmarks and success stories.
  11. 'State of MENA Startups 2019' Magnitt surveys 100+ MENA-based founders of the 500 Falcons portfolio to gather their thoughts, opinions, challenges and perceived opportunities of being an entrepreneur in the region
  12. 'State of the Nation - SMEs in MENA 2019' Beehive released this report focused on key areas that impact SMEs such as talent acquisition, innovation and growth factors. The survey results showed positive indicators such as SME appetite for market expansion and the opportunity for women in business
  13. 'The Start-up Ecosystem in the Arab World, 2019' Written in preparation for the 10th World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa,it serves as an overview of the state of entrepreneurship across the Arab world for all participants in the Forum, in order to gain an understanding of the ecosystem
  14. 'The State of Digital Investments in MENA 2013 - 2018' Aims to inform government leaders, investors, entrepreneurs, and ecosystem stakeholders on the pulse of the region’s startup scene
  15. '2019 Full Year Saudi Arabia Venture Capital Snapshot' "The report is sponsored by Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC) and provides an in-depth analysis of startups and venture capital (VC) investment in one of the region’s fastest growing ecosystems: Saudi Arabia
  16. '2019 MENA Venture Investment Summary' 2019 MENA Venture Investment Summary analyzes trends and insights from 564 investments in venture-backed startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in 2019
  17. 'The State of Social Media 2019' Provides important user insights of social media platforms in USA, KSA and Egypt including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Linkedin
  18. 'Fintech in MENA report, 2020' This report covers the development of the ever-evolving MENA Fintech industry by sector and solution, discussing key industry drivers, government and regulatory efforts, and expected future outlooks
  19. 'Impact of the Covid-19 Outbreak on the Entrepreneurship System, 2020' Aims to identify the extent of the impact of Covid-19 on the region’s entrepreneurship sector and the measures that can be taken to alleviate the financial stress on startups
  20. 'White paper on: Rethinking Banking for Startups, 2020' Lists the challenges experienced by startups when setting up a UAE bank account and highlights its findings and recommendations for UAE banks