faking confidence vs. faking numbers

faking confidence vs. faking numbers

Pardon my French but this one’s a good entrée:


“As an industry we’ve become experts at content marketing the shit out of our wins, the shiniest versions of what venture and startups can be.” (Hunter Walk)


Content marketing remains a powerful weapon, but I feel like “the shiniest versions” are no longer welcome. Real > Shiniest. No more of that unhealthy FITYMI (= fake it till you make it).


Spoiler alert: You don’t have to fake it to make it.



A guide for those who don’t want to fake it until they make it (to prison, sometimes)


I’m sure each one of us knows at least one FITYMI story. Remember Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos saga? That’s an extreme case of course; her FITYMI didn’t quite work and Holmes’ fraud cost her 9+ years behind bars. But it shows how far FITYMI strategy can take us…


Fake it until you make it is a way of life in which a person shows themselves as a success before they become one… They’re faking the confidence they need to get to where they want to get. That’s relatively healthy, until it isn’t. Often they end up faking much more than confidence: tech prowess, product viability, numbers, even customers…


I’m not saying you can’t get away with faking, but I feel like those who fake it almost always cross ethical lines… and the ecosystem became really cautious about “the shiniest versions”, the exaggerations and the overshot Moon landings. On the other hand, professional investors should make the effort to poke through the unreal façade created by certain founders. Posing specific, in-depth questions will reveal the founders’ true knowledge, put things in the right perspective and bring everyone safely back on Earth before any casualties may occur.


It’s clear to everyone that the bar for success is being continuously raised – because we’re maturing up.


So how can you make it without resorting to faking it?


The following steps may seem to you like a very repetitive preaching, but with the amount of pitch emails the team keeps receiving, I think we still need to do some more preaching:


1. CAN I SOLVE IT LIKE NO ONE ELSE? Don’t rebrand an existing solution. Yes, it usually takes an effort to find unique problems out there. Seek an “a-ha” moment. And once you find it – ask yourself: Can I solve it like no one else in the market? Yes? What are the barriers to entry for someone else? Can my unique solution transform into a unicorn? If you don’t have a strategy on how to deliver us the moon, then you shouldn’t promise it.




3. BUILD A TEAM BASED ON ACHIEVING MILESTONES IN YOUR OVERALL STRATEGY. Avoid recruiting a full-fledged team when you have no traction or validation.


4. SHOW US THAT YOU AIM TO MAKE REAL MONEY and not just burn it. Can you be profitable? When? What kind of customers will pay you? Can you win them over? How?


5. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR BEST MARKETING STRATEGY IS? Your customers. They are never “just” your revenues and profits.


6. OPTIMIZE FOR THE NEXT STEP. Work today on optimizing for tomorrow. Like in business, like in life.




The same applies to VC funds. I believe there’s no room for faking things and misleading. I also believe in showing all your cards to your investors. Are you scared to tell them about your little red flag? They’ll most probably find out about it anyway… and by then it could grow into a big red flag. So why not tell them from the start? Transparency breeds trust. While it may not be easy to inform your investors about a setback you’ve encountered, once they are aware that you’re addressing it and being honest about it, they will not only support you but also develop a deeper respect for you.


Imagine you’re consistently feeding your LPs with overvalued portfolio data and then one day one of the investments collapses. “Oh, it was only 6% of the fund size…” True. But it was much more of your TVPI, wasn’t it? This one failure ate up a big slice of the TVPI cake.



Transparency > eye-candy numbers. For startups and VCs alike. So that each one of us can enjoy the cake.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)  
While faking confidence to get to where you want to get can be relatively healthy, you can be easily tempted to fake much more: your tech prowess, numbers, you-name-it. Luckily for you, you don’t have to fake it to make it - and I tell you 7 ways how you can do that, including Solve it like no one else, Build a team that's smarter than you and Nurture healthy confidence... Also: Transparency > eye-candy numbers. For startups and VCs alike.


Family Postcard


From us to you…. Our summer 💌:


$100M for healthcare


Who’s the people’s choice? Money Fellows.


Retailo & Hala got WIRED


Subsbase put on a new coat


Repzo + Al Fakher (Iraq)


The road to an IPO


Latest Jobs @ ArzanVC Family


  • Software Engineer (Ruby on Rails) at Qoyod (Riyadh)
  • Machine Learning Engineer at Carseer (Amman)
  • Head of Growth at Money Fellows (Cairo)
  • Credit Collections / AR Specialist at TruKKer (Riyadh)
  • Junior Accountant at Cartlow (Cairo)
  • Last Mile Coordinator at Khazenly (Zamalek)

See you next week at Reflect Festival in Cyprus. Αντίο! (read: Adío!)


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founders’ equity at exit (and before it)

founders’ equity at exit (and before it)

Some time ago Hasan Al Shami tagged Arzan VC in his post about the levels of SaaS founders’ equity at IPO – what’s the average ownership% and whether the founders share it equally – and Hasan was wondering if we got some data on MENA founders…


Thank you for the idea, Hasan. We do like good homework summer break or not. 🧮



Founders’ equity at exit (and before it)


Founders’ motivation to conceive and keep building their startups has different fuels. One of them is equity.


My focus here is the equity of not only SaaS founders but MENA founders in general. When I say “founders” – I’m referring to all available founders in one company, so it can mean either solo founders (in case of 1 founder) or a group of co-founders (in case of startups with multiple founders).


In case of multiple founders it’s not a rule that each of them gets the exact same share of equity, and my research will confirm that. The truth is: equality is quite rare and, in case of 2 founders, co-founder A (the lead “founder”) tends to get higher share than co-founder B (and there are similar inequalities among 3/4+ co-founders). For example in the US, only 41% of 2-founder startups split the initial equity equally (50/50).


Let’s have a look at the life of founders’ equity from the startup’s inception until several stages later. Note: MENA exit equity data doesn’t grow on trees, so we’ll have a hint of that + the equity trends before exit.


Founders, it’s all about finding a balance between how much you want to own and how much faster you want the business to grow. Equity decisions should be made early on, before the business is worth a lot. 1% today can one day become few hundred grand, if not few millions. Aim at having a bigger stake for as long as possible although, when the right time comes, higher dilution is a natural course of your equity’s life. Because when the exit comes and you’re left with only a small piece, that 15% you got at exit is probably valued at more than your 50% several stages ago. The pie value changes much faster than your share of pie.


Jason Lemkin’s study of 27 pre-IPO startups showed that 62% of them had founders with equity less than 20%, and the avg. founders’ ownership was 15%, while only 11% had shares less than 10% at the pre-IPO stage.


How much equity do MENA founders give away with each round?


Let’s break it down by stage, and before we do, bear in mind that the sample of companies is diverse in its sectorial make-up and it entails of 30 startups. Most data lie in Pre-Seed to Series B, with only 2 entries per Series C and D.


22 out of the 30 startups (73%) have multiple founders (mostly 2). And only 6 out of those 22 (27%) split the equity equally among the co-founders. Like I wrote earlier, this finding was expected. Not all co-founders contribute equally – moneywise or timewise.


And here’s the dilution% stage by stage, based on the median founders ownership at each stage. The dilution% is pretty much even, with an avg. of ~20%:



I won’t be name-dropping, but one business stands out too loud thanks to its acquisition before Series A, which is quite early in the game. Its 3 co-founders (with equal shares) parked whopping 61% collectively. You can tell this company is an outlier because both average & median for Pre-Series A are in 42s%. I should add that it was a strong exit and each of the co-founders walked away with millions of $ (you need 2 hands to count them).


3 startups reached an exit/IPO stage with an avg. of ~22% in founders’ equity. This pattern matches with the rule of thumb that dictates founders to park no less than 20-30% collectively for themselves at exit (in an ideal world). Some companies may raise 5 rounds and arrive at exit with 20% left, some may raise 7 (including extensions and bridges) and walk away with much less % but much more $ in their pocket if the valuation rose with each round.


For comparison, 3 other startups haven’t yet reached an exit/IPO stage and, contrary to the rule of thumb, their founders are already well-below the 20% threshold. One of them is actually below 10% but that’s still acceptable because: it’s a single founder so he doesn’t have to split his share, the company is beyond Series C, nearing profitability and considering few M&A options.


Final notes:


1. If you’re a founder, get to know the cap table mechanism inside out and don’t think twice about asking for help. We’re here for that. Also, try out some modelling and keep your actual cap table tidy and up to date.
2. Make equity decisions early on.
3. Get familiar with anti-dilution protection to weather down rounds. Just in case.
4. Did I say you should keep your cap table tidy? It helps all the parties.
5. There are no written rules to giving away your equity. Remember: the value of the pie usually changes much faster than your share of it. Here’s to mighty rich pies! (I mean rich in flavour, too :P)

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)  
The pie value changes much faster than your share of pie, so equity decisions should be made early on, before the business is worth a lot. I analyzed ownership data of 30 startups (MENA-based, various industries) to see how much equity MENA founders give away with each round: the dilution% is quite even, with an avg. of ~20% at each round.


Family Postcard


Dook by Taker: 3, 2, 1… launched!


Cartlow’s Nour Sleiman among Forbes’ 20 Women Behind ME Tech Brands


Merit’s footprint across 150+ countries


TruKKer Academy ⛟


Mamas & Papas love Citron


Klaim + Lendo


Recognized at Seamless: Money Fellows


Latest Jobs @ ArzanVC Family


  • Senior DevOps Engineer at Money Fellows (Cairo)
  • Senior Software Development Engineer (PHP/LARAVEL) at Cartlow (Cairo)
  • Senior Software Engineer (Backend) at Hala (Riyadh)
  • DACH Region Sales Head at TruKKer (Berlin)
  • Senior Marketing Operations Specialist at Qoyod (Riyadh)
  • Commercial Supervisor (Saudi Nationals Only) at Retailo (Riyadh)


Till next month,


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cleantech mojo

cleantech mojo

2023 vintage may be the best one of the decade, but will it be clean enough?… friendly enough to our environment?


Although cleantech is already on the region’s radar and already helping counter & prevent environmental damages and climate change in the region. I will tell you which verticals show room for growth.


A clean slice is served below.



Cleantech 2.0 meets MENA


Could the future major cleantechs come from the Middle East? Yes.


Achieving energy efficiency is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity. Especially in our region – one of the most vulnerable ones in the world when it comes to the impact of climate change. Water scarcity, rapidly increasing waste levels, uneven access to reliable electricity, food insecurity from the agricultural point of view… But – who knew that one day the cheapest energy on our planet would come from the Middle East? (Solar, not oil.)




The next great disruption in MENA could be about access to clean, affordable energy and clean water. And good clean things are well underway. Back in 2016, Morocco had 28 renewable energy mega projects – the most in the region at that time. Much changed ever since – and more so in GCC:


Saudi Arabia pledged to implement a 50% renewable energy mix by 2030 and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060. NEOM aims to run on 100% renewable energy. Just few days ago Saudi Arabia’s Regional Voluntary Carbon Market Company announced plans to launch a carbon credit trading exchange in early 2024, and the kingdom’s Ministry of Investment has also signed a $5.6 billion deal with Chinese electric car maker Human Horizons. And the Strategy of Resolve that Saudi Arabia embarked on together with UAE is another milestone. The newly established UAE Carbon Alliance aims to support the transition of companies to a green economy, as set out in the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative. And the Emirates recently announced a project for solar-plus-desalination plants. Qatar is not lagging behind; its carbon-neutral 2022 FIFA World Cup is just the tip of the clean-berg. The country’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change recently inaugurated the Environmental Pioneers initiative, although Qatar Airways’ CEO sounded doubtful about the aviation industry achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Bahrain, GCC’s smallest oil producer, aims to double renewable energy targets to achieve 20% of the total energy mix by 2035. Interestingly, Bahrain’s F1 Grand Prix 2023 was the circuit’s most sustainable race ever with all circuit usage for F1 being covered by clean energy. When they say hydrogen, think of Oman, because it plans to become a competitive low-emissions hydrogen supplier by 2030 with 1 million tons produced annually, and 8.5 million tons by 2050 (which would be more than total hydrogen demand in Europe today). They also aim to phase out all fossil fuel powered vehicles by 2050. And then there’s Kuwait which has set out to achieve carbon neutrality in O&G by 2050, with 15% of renewable energy within its energy mix by 2030. It has also unveiled plans for XZero City, a sustainable net-zero community for 100,000 residents in the south of Kuwait.


Let’s talk about the local ecosystem. I analysed 104 cleantech startups in total and most of them are active in circular economy (waste) and renewables (mainly solar and some wind). In terms of geography, a quarter of the pool is based in Egypt, followed by UAE (15%) and Lebanon (14%). Have a look:



ROOM FOR GROWTH: Energy storage and decarbonization show much room for growth, while resources (hydrogen), built environment (construction) and energy storage remain largely untapped.


By now we all know that cleantech investments can be profitable. For communities and for investors alike. As far as Arzan VC goes, I’ll be blunt and say that we don’t have a clear-cut cleantech investment strategy, but we have already invested in cleantech via our Fund II. For example, Cartlow (UAE) is a re-commerce platform which tackles the environmental damage caused by e-waste.  


Here’s to the Cartlows of tomorrow. We need you.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)  
Access to clean energy and clean water could well be the next great disruption in MENA. Work is already underway in the GCC to achieve net-zero emission targets. I analyzed 104 cleantech startups, out of which most are active in circular economy (waste) and renewables. A quarter of the pool is based in Egypt, followed by UAE (15%) and Lebanon (14%). Verticals like energy storage, decarbonization, resources (hydrogen), built environment (construction) and energy storage show much room for growth.


Family Postcard


‘Fintech Leader of The Year’ = Klaim’s Karim Dakki


Qoyod + SlneeIT


5 years of Citron


Summer internship programs by SubsBase and Lucky


Mejuri is coming to Miami!


+1 photo with Armada Delivery team


Latest Jobs @ ArzanVC Family


  • VP of Technology and Product at Klaim (Dubai)
  • Scrum Master at Money Fellows (Cairo)
  • Business Development Specialist at TruKKer (Jeddah)
  • Junior Accountant at Khazenly (Cairo)
  • Account Manager (Americas) at Merit Incentives (remote)


Happy vacations.


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2023 vintage

2023 vintage

I believe that the 2023 vintage may be the best of this decade.


We are raising a $60M fund – our 3rd fund – and… are some of you are raising eyebrows now? It is a bold move given the times we are living in, but the timing is right. Other VCs are raising north of $100M – I say that’s ambitious but let’s hope they make it.


Each time a VC is raising a fund they will tell you now is the best time to invest. Of course they have to tell you that… But I’m going to tell you something else: invest in all vintages.



Why should you invest in all vintages?


Just like prevailing climatic conditions determine how a specific harvest year will turn out, VC funds are influenced by the prevailing market conditions in its vintage year.

Let’s look at IRRs of early-stage venture funds based on their vintage:



There is no linear correlation between S&P 500 Annual returns with dividends and Median Net IRR of early-stage venture funds (r = 0.04). Is there any other way we can predict performance of a specific vintage? Yes. The prevailing valuation environment.



Deploying in a lower-valuation environment like the one we’re in right now (2023 vintage) should allow VC funds to ride on a wave of economic growth in the next season, and it typically signals a better vintage performance. Down-rounds and flat-rounds during the 2008-11 financial recession outperformed the up-rounds (and the opposite happens in bull years).


Let me explain the evolution of MENA’s valuation environment through our funds:

AVC I (2015 vintage) started looking at deals in 2014 when MENA’s VC market was in its early days. There were very few startup investments happening because the space wasn’t crowded (that’s why we label ourselves one of the earliest VCs in the region). It was hence the best time to start investing and we made 17 investments in the coming 4 years, mainly in the region plus a few outside. AVC I had its investment period over by end-2018 – in parallel with our growing regional ecosystem – and that turned out very well for us: 5 great exits (Careem, POSRocket, Tamatem, Wrappup, Onfleet) and 4 more to go in the near future inshallah. Take-away lessons: A well-balanced portfolio of 17 startups (majority in the region); T&L (TruKKer, Armada Delivery), e-commerce (Mejuri, The Luxury Closet), mobility (Careem)… coupled with low valuations at entry and strong markets during exits took us a long way. If you ask me if we can duplicate this stellar fund performance, my answer is no because MENA VC 2015 vintage was a very strong one due to a mix of specific attributes (an untapped ecosystem with a limited number of VC players and plenty of first-mover startups) that I don’t think we will get to see again soon (or ever).


AVC II (2019 vintage) offers a different story. Our ecosystem was growing full steam ahead in 2019. Regional governments began backing VCs and incubators. Global PE/VC had a lot of dry powder. Valuations kept soaring and some entry points became very expensive. AVC II was done investing by mid-2022 – at the peak, and since then the global as well as regional startup valuations have been in decline. Take-away lessons: Deploy funds throughout the investment period even if you can deploy faster (i.e., 1-2 years). Despite AVC II’s exit window finding itself in a low/lower-valuation environment, the fund’s solid foundation and our balanced-portfolio strategy will ensure that the fund will sail through intact and generate good returns. We invested in a few not-so-tech startups like Citron and Haseel – to keep the portfolio balanced. E.g., Haseel supplies food (veggies & fruits) – and food is needed at all times. Moreover, 48.6% of the fund’s volume went into KSA-based companies, hence the market impact is expected to be less severe since KSA (i) has the ability to attract talent (regional and international), (ii) has a solid financial sector and (iii) has just started its growth journey.


AVC III (2023 vintage) is deploying in a low/lower-valuation environment and we got 3 warehoused investments (Nearpay, Money Fellows, Hala). Our strategy remains largely unchanged: we are industry-agnostic in our approach, sticking to MENA + adding a small allocation for Pakistan. The current, more reasonable valuations allow us to target good deals at “the right price”. We strongly believe that an investment in the GCC is and will be the most secure and stable investment for the next 10 years (x US facing economic challenges, de-dollarization, banking instability; x high inflation in Europe; x talent relocation from Europe to UAE & KSA). The GCC is where we should invest because of political stability, strong financial markets, strong currencies, visionary leaders and talent influx…


Many regional VCs were created in 2019 and afterwards – and since these vintages are not going to perform as expected, some of those VCs might not be able to raise again… expect seeing more zombie funds. Also, less funding means less competition. So – like in 2015 – future funding rounds should be priced reasonably, and that’s one of the many reasons why we’re expecting AVC III to have a very solid fund performance.


Concluding thoughts


We’ve recently seen how badly “all-eggs-in-the-same-basket” can turn out. Investing directly in “once-upon-a-time” hot startups proved unbalanced and risky for many around us.


But there’s a solution to getting the best even out of a “worse” vintage: Invest in any and every vintage regardless of the current market status. Definitely don’t invest all your money in one year. Very importantly – make sure that the fund manager of your choice has a track record of well-balanced portfolios that survive both good and bad times. Our funds prove to have that strength.


Companies that survive 2023 will emerge stronger, more efficient and more sustainable.


We’re ready to continue backing and building.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)  
I show why it's important to allocate your money across all vintages and with a fund manager who has a track record of well-balanced portfolios. I focus on the evolution of MENA's valuation environment since 2015 and explain what Arzan VC has been doing to ensure solid fund performance even when it’s a recession time outside the window. Vintage 2023 should turn out to be the best of this decade and pave the way to real sustainability.

Family Postcard


TOP 30 fintechs. Money Fellows and Hala landed on Forbes Middle East’ list of 2023 Top 30 Fintech Companies in the region.


Hello Saudi! Khazenly announced the launch of their newest service Cross Borders that provides customers with a legit setup to sell in the KSA, including full-fledged logistics.


Hello Saudi! (#2) Citron launched its collections in Saudi Arabia as well as a local website.


Share with uni students and fresh grads: Gameball has opened applications for its fourth Summer internship program “Elevate”. This is a paid opportunity targeted towards university students and fresh grads. Apply by May 30.


Charity e-giftcard. Merit Incentives partnered up with the Noor Dubai Foundation as their Charity E-Giftcard Partner in the UAE.


Car reports on OpenSooq. CarSeer partnered up with OpenSooq to provide customers with Carseer reports directly from the platform.


Latest Jobs @ ArzanVC Family


  • Associate Growth Product Manager at Zid (Riyadh)
  • Business Development Executive at Cartlow (Riyadh)
  • Principal Frontend Engineer at Money Fellows (Cairo)
  • Senior Developer at CarSeer (Amman)
  • Product Owner at Qoyod (Riyadh)
  • Accounting Associate at Retailo (Karachi)


I’ll be in UAE on May 24-25 along with our CFO Adeel. See you around🥤?


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EXIT🏃🏽… How can founders win exits?

EXIT🏃🏽… How can founders win exits?

Few weekends ago Laith took part in a discussion panel titled “The Endgame: Winning Exists For Startups & VCs” at RiseUp Summit in Cairo, and he’d like to share his views with those who weren’t there. Take notes.



How can founders win exits?


1) How do you as a founder decide whether to exit or not, and how do you seek advice/guidance from your investors?


I was on the panel as an investor, however this question brought back memories from when I was a founder of a fledgling startup called Jeeran – you’d know it if you have grey hair. At the time we had grown to over 7M users and we were at the leading edge of the internet in MENA. We had exit discussions with different parties ranging from full acquisition and takeover to majority stake acquisitions with a partial exit for founders. These discussions never materialized because we didn’t really know how to think about them. I can say, however, that we approached all of them with a defensive mindset. Our answer was always “Never! But let’s talk”. I have also witnessed this attitude from other founders during my work as a VC and have seen them pass on great offers only to crash and burn later. Always approach these discussions with a “Yes, let’s talk” attitude and the knowledge that these opportunities may not come around again, especially in MENA.


The second mistake we made was involving investors too early in the thought process. In fact, our investors were in some of those initial meetings, which centered the discussion around cheque sizes and valuations. We had more discussions about what we wanted to do with the company with our VCs than among each other as founders. We pretty much did not think of any other stakeholder when in fact there were many at the time: our team, families, customers, and the broader ecosystem.


Founders can feel burnt out, unable to scale or under immense pressure, resulting in a desire to exit. You will know when that feeling comes. And when it does, don’t ignore it. One of my mentors once told me: “You want to be the guy who sold it to the other guy. You don’t want to be the guy who held onto it for too long.” 

Deciding to pass and continue building the business is a very exciting option. It’s also a significant undertaking that requires careful consideration of individual goals and objectives. It’s like finishing a marathon and being asked to run it again, immediately, for double the prize.


2) Do investors need to be part of that initial we-got-an-exit-offer conversation?


Selling your company is (usually) a once-in-a-life decision. So, as a startup founder, the first person, aside from your co-founder, that you should talk to when you receive an exit offer is your spouse/partner because your partner is the person you’re probably most aligned with when it comes to you and what you want to do with your life.



Before bringing in outside parties, founders must discuss and align their priorities internally. It’s more important to involve team members since they are the backbone of the business and will provide support if the decision is made to continue with the venture.


Investors will try to tell you that they are always aligned with you in the exit discussions. That’s not true. They will have different objectives and priorities depending on their entry point, fund size, overall fund performance and other factors. Investors are diversified while you only have one company & one shot.


You should involve investors only once your desire to exit is crystal clear.


As an investor myself, I will always say that if the founder makes money, everybody else makes money. And when that time comes, then that is the time. Investors should then help push the deal towards a successful outcome for everyone.


3) What should be the investors’ role?


When the founders agree and decide they want to pursue an exit, that’s when investors should go out and try to connect with these potential buyers through their networks. Having investors involved in the conversation at that point can bring valuable perspectives and expertise to the table, which can help the founders make a more informed decision. It’s important to carefully evaluate each offer and consider all the factors involved, such as the potential for future growth, the financial benefits of the offer, and the impact on the company’s employees and customers. Investors should focus on helping with negotiating deal terms, doing DD on the acquirer and guiding founders through the process.


There is a good example of a portfolio company of ours that decided to sell “early”. We felt it wasn’t the right decision, but we supported it anyway. This was just before the global financial conditions took a turn in 2022. We’re now thankful they took that exit. Interestingly enough, that company was in Egypt. Phew!


As investors, we are there to support the founders in their journey from start to exit and help them maneuver it – as long as the founders know what they want to do. We shouldn’t provide an answer to the question of whether to exit or not; only guidance and advice once that decision has been made.


My co-panelists were Zeid Husban (founder of POSRocket – acquired by Foodics), Sameh Saleh (founder of Hawaya – acquired by Match Group) and Bassem Raafat (Principal at A15), and we were moderated by Qusai AlSaif (CEO & MD of Sadu Capital). It was a fired-up one!🔥

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)  
Laith talks about the mistakes that founders should avoid when they receive an exit offer, who they should speak to first and what's the role of investors. Remember that investors will try to tell you that they are always aligned with you in exit discussions - which is not true - with the exception of a rare breed of investors that will give you the right advice regardless of their own interest.


Family Postcard



Zid and Money Fellows are part of Endeavour Outliers list of companies for 2023 = top ~9% out of ~2,500 companies.


Moved to Riyadh

As part of the first joiners for the RELOCATE Initiative: Move to Saudi Arabia, Merit relocated its regional HQ to Riyadh. Also, Merit’s founder Julie Barbier-Leblan became President of Incentive Marketing Association IMA MEAPAC.


+1 partnership

Klaim partnered up with Dubai Healthcare City to help healthcare providers manage insurance claims and cashflow.


Fashion innovator

The Luxury Closet was featured in the Khaleej Times’ wknd. magazine as an innovator in the fashion resale market.


+1 article about us: “MENA-based investors with the highest portfolio exits” by Magnitt (note: we made more than 7 exits; Magnitt doesn’t count secondaries)


Latest Jobs @ ArzanVC Family


  • Legal Associate at Retailo (Karachi)
  • Operations Onboarding (Back Office) at Zid (Riyadh)
  • Sales Executive (Outbound) at Zid (Jeddah)
  • Senior Graphic Designer at Lucky (Giza)
  • Graphic Designer at Cartlow (Cairo)
  • Quality & Authenticity Assistant – Luxury Watches at The Luxury Closet (Dubai)
  • UX Copy Writer at Money Fellows (Cairo)


Blessed Eid! 🌙



P.S. 1 wish: Can MENA banks become more startup-friendly?

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