Are you in Amman?

Are you in Amman?

We’re back again with some great news this month, most recently our investment in Swvl! We’ve also been working on a couple of transactions we will be announcing soon. Our beautiful startup studio and co-working space, Blender, is coming to life and we’ve opened up applications! You can have licensed offices, dedicated desks, and more.  Here’s a peek… blender-space Lastly, we took a look at the state of startups in Jordan. Enjoy!

Jordan Tech Startups

Ten years ago, reports described Jordan as the Middle East’s Silicon Valley in the making.   Jordan, backed by the king’s efforts and armed with a large developer community and ample human resources, led the pack with its number of tech startups and notable exits.  However, over the years this growth has been stunted by laws and regulations that were not fully conducive to entrepreneurs’ needs.
Forward to today, the general take is that Jordan has lost its edge.  Tech sectors are growing in the region, with entrepreneurship moving up on every country’s agenda and the startup bug hitting young individuals everywhere.  Nevertheless, Jordan continues to be one of the regional leaders in the ICT field, with many tech founders across the region originating from Jordan.  For this month’s market map, we took a look at 84 active Jordan tech startups and the sectors they are focusing on. We then identified areas of development or gaps in the market where we would like to see more action.

With a vast proportion of the Arabic content on the web originating from Jordan, a large number of startups we found are operating in the media and content category.  This includes information resources about the weather (Arabia Weather), food recipes (Atbaki), and everything in general (Mawdoo3).  Several content producers are focusing on video content (e.g. Istikana), audible content (e.g. Masmoo3, Sowt) and content for children (e.g. Shablol, Kharabeesh).

E-commerce was the second largest category and includes a range of businesses from multiproduct stores (e.g. OpenSooq) to platforms for buying hardware (e.g. Jafar Shop), books (e.g. Jamalon), apparel (e.g. Jobedu), real estate (e.g. AqarCircle ) and many more. The technology category is a broad group that includes companies doing innovative things such as mapping technology (e.g. Navcode), assistive technologies for the deaf (e.g Mindrockets), and chatbots (e.g. Arabot, Eila).   Several companies provide tools for the web such as website builders (e.g. and website translations (e.g. dakwak). The fintech sector in Jordan is more developed with companies offering payment services (e.g. CashU, Hyperpay), crowdfunding (e.g. Afkarmena, Liwwa ), and lending (e.g. Solfeh). In the health tech category, companies provide remote doctor consultations (e.g. Altibbi), medical information (e.g. Webteb), and medical marketplaces for suppliers and end users (e.g. Aumet). The edtech sector in Jordan has been quite active with startups offering online courses (e.g. Edraak), peer to peer tutoring (e.g. Gattaa), learning management systems (e.g. edaura), and specialized training courses (e.g. Salalem). Several companies in gaming publish games serving the Arab market (e.g. Tamatem, play3arabi). The social category covers networks that connect a variety of groups including travelers (e.g. Friendture) and readers (e.g. Abjjad).  It also includes social media management tools that help with automation and customer service (Sortechs, Sadeed). In enterprise tools, companies are building sales CRM tools (e.g. Repzo) as well as libraries of professional documents (e.g. Hashdoc). Related to enterprises, in the jobs and recruiting field are sites for general recruitment (e.g. Akhtaboot) as well as temporary home maintenance jobs (e.g. 3oun). Other sectors The bookings category includes reservations for events (e.g. Sajilni) and restaurants (e.g. Reserveout). In design, companies are building platforms for homeowners and designers (eg. Darpedia), creatives (e.g tasmeemME) and crowdsourced interior designs (e.g. eldesigners).  Lastly, in food and grocery, local companies deliver groceries (e.g. iMoneh) and home cooked foods (e.g. Bilforon).


These are the segments that have many startups in global markets but are not yet fully exploited in the Jordanian market. For example, for a small regional market, many players look to immediately scale outside of Jordan to grow.  The SaaS model of startups lends itself to this type of growth and is one of the main reasons why we’d love to see more come out from Jordan and the region in general. Another interesting untapped sector is travel technology, which potentially includes rewards management software, trip financing, corporate travel apps, flight claim and compensation services, and destination-specific content, to name a few.

Although there are companies that offer some of the functionalities listed in the Untapped box, we are still not seeing single players dominating these categories and it would be interesting to see how they evolve.

Know of other leaders in the Jordanian market? Think you could use one of those untapped services?

Join the discussion at #arzanVCchats !!

Welcome to the fam

Fresh off the press – we’d like to introduce you to Swvl, our latest investment. We participated in the series A round in Swvl and are proud to welcome its founders Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh to the ArzanVC family.  Swvl is reinventing transportation in Egypt by connecting commuters with private buses and allowing them to reserve and pay for these buses through its mobile app. Swivl-founders What do we like about Swvl? We’ve been in Egypt many times and we’ve seen how commuters (men and women) squeeze in vans and buses with discomfort, hoping to reach their destination safely. Commuters face this daily struggle and they deserve to upgrade their experience! We believe that Swvl’s amazing team and technology are fit to solve this problem through optimization of this chaotic experience.

Family Postcard

C to the Izz-o is now ISO certified for Quality, Health/safety, and Environmental standards. Because you love airports Tamatem launched a new game, Airport City, so you can build and manage one yourself.
Till next month, keep working… Hasan
To the Kingdom 👑

To the Kingdom 👑

Hey folks,

February has been an action-packed month for us and for our portfolio companies, what a great start for the year! We mentioned in our January newsletter that we are looking at Saudi startups for 2018 and this month’s piece is our take on the market.  Definitely eyeing those SaaS models 👀! Enjoy!

To the kingdom

2017 was a transformative year for Saudi Arabia. The kingdom saw reforms across the board, including an encouraging strategy to focus on technology and innovation as drivers of economic growth.  Along with government institutions, such as the SME Authority, an increasing number of entrepreneurship support organizations, from incubators to training programs are working toward nurturing and pushing the ecosystem forward.  In addition, new trading licenses allowing foreign entrepreneurs to set up businesses will attract more founders and investors to the market going forward. These developments, combined with an inflow of capital, open up great potential for innovation.  For this month’s market map, we took a look at 113 active Saudi tech startups and the sectors they are focusing on. We then identified areas of development or gaps in the market where we would like to see more action. E-commerce is the most prevalent category and the first stop for most startup ecosystems. They include a range of businesses from multiproduct stores (e.g.Ashal) to platforms for buying cars (e.g. car7araj), books (e.g. Rofoof), and many more. As covered in previous maps, the food & grocery space is massive in MENA. In Saudi, this category includes multi-vendor food delivery sites (e.g. Hunger Station), grocery delivery (e.g. Nana Direct), restaurant POS systems (e.g. Foodics) and restaurant review apps (e.g. Qaym). Several companies in on-demand services provide platforms for hiring workers for short terms tasks, such as handymen (e.g. Sakrobe), home cleaners (e.g. Matic), and movers (e.g. Vanoman). Similarly, delivery and logistics includes services to purchase and deliver almost everything (e.g. Mrsool). In the healthcare category, companies provide remote doctor consultations (e.g.Cura), appointment bookings (e.g. Sihatech), and diabetes management (e.g. Sokry). The edtech sector in Saudi has been quite active with startups offering online courses (e.g. Rwaq), online tutoring (e.g. Noon), and learning management systems (e.g. Acadox). Enterprise startups include technologies and services built for businesses. They include recruiting platforms (e.g. Shoghul), employee offers (e.g Walaplus), and accounting software (e.g Qoyod). Other sectors Picking up slowly, the fintech sector includes payment service providers (e.g.Faturah) and crowdfunding (e.g. Mojtm3 Ta2). In travel, companies provide bookings (e.g. Almosafer) and local guides (e.g. Daleeli). The transportation category includes startups providing ride-hailing services (e.g. MyTaxi), as well as GPS tracking for fleet (e.g. SafeRoad), school buses (e.g Hafilaty) and family drivers (e.g.Sawwagy). In the social category, companies are providing social media analytics (e.g. Lucidya) and social networks (e.g. Sarahah).   Media startups are creating online content (e.g. Uturn), audiobooks (e.g. Dhad) and publishing platforms (e.g.Qalam).  Companies in bookings help users discover and book salons (e.g.Spoilee), events (e.g. HalaYalla) and photographers (e.g. Sawerly).  Lastly,technology is a broad category that includes companies doing innovative things such as 3d mapping (e.g. Falcon Viz) and crowd management (e.g. Hoshood). 📌Untapped These are the segments that have many startups in global markets but are not yet exploited in the Saudi market. For example, in oil and gas tech, large players such as Saudi Aramco Ventures have invested in US startups providing drilling-related analytics and IoT.  It would be interesting to see technologically advanced localplayers help the oil and gas industry manage its complexities. Another interesting untapped sector is construction technology, which potentially includes project collaboration software, inventory management, and specialized drones. Although there are companies that offer some of the functionalities listed in the Untapped box, we are still not seeing single players dominating these categories and it would be interesting to see how they evolve. Know of other leaders in the Saudi market? Think you could use one of those untapped services? Join the discussion at #arzanVCchats

Family Postcard

Flippin’ fantastic Tamatem raised $2.5 million to grow their MENA presence, work with international game developers and hire top talent. Armada raised its Pre-Series A investment to grow their team and expand into Saudi and Jordan. Virtual Insanity CoContest launched PillarVR, a new tool to help architects and interior designers transform 360 renders into VR tours for clients. Show ’em what you got Looking to take your FIFA game to the next level? Bidvine, the platform to hire local service professionals, is offering Professional Gaming Coaches to help you learn from the best. Lastly, we wish our readers in Kuwait a happy national and liberation day. Keep it real, Hasan
can’t access your file

can’t access your file

Happy new year to all of you! We came back in January refreshed and ready to roll ⛷️ . Before I jump into the newsletter, I would like to start by wishing Anurag Agarwal – who is family before he becomes a colleague – all the best in his future endeavors. Anurag has decided to join Oman Tech Fund (OTF).  Anurag was a star at ArzanVC and his departure is a loss to the team and to me personally. He will continue to be one of ArzanVC’s family members and a reason why ArzanVC is what it is today. OTF, you’re lucky! Back to our scheduled programming… This month we kicked off construction on Blender, our coworking space. We’re renting out licensed office spaces as well as individual desk passes. Our founders get extra perks as well, which we’ll be sharing soon 💃 💃.   If you are looking for a space in Kuwait or know someone interested, hit us up here for more details.

We’ve also been looking at a couple of interesting companies and follow-on investments, and expect deals to pick up this quarter. In 2018, we are specifically interested in Saudi based startups! This is in line with our strategy to launch our KSA office in the next few months. In light of that, this month, we’re sharing our piece for founders on organizing documents.

Get your “house” in order

We’re beginning a new year and I’ve asked AVC Venture Partner Anurag to share his tips for founders on organizing documents ahead of a due diligence round…

📢 PSA for Founders: Time kills deals.  If there’s one surefire way to slow a deal down, it’s not having your data ready for investors when you approach them. Get yours in order asap, at least before Ramadan when slowness kicks in. I have seen startups with well-structured data rooms close their deals faster and more efficiently.  In general, a data room can mean a physical room with your data, virtual data rooms or data centers. What I’m referring to here is a due diligence data room. A shareable folder where your company aggregates its legal, commercial and financial documents for review by a potential investor. Let’s take a look… First, this may sound straightforward, but make sure to put your company’s name on your folder. Otherwise, things get messy with your investors receiving 20 folders titled “Due Diligence.” What goes in there? Good question. Here’s what we consider our DD checklist at ArzanVC. You can keep it as a reference to help you structure your data room. We organize our checklist into 5 parts: 1. Corporate, Shareholders’ Information, & Legal Matters This is all your incorporation related documents, copies of licenses, CAP table, previously signed term sheets and shareholding agreements.  If you’ve had several financing rounds, create a folder for each one, and make sure to include the term sheet and signed agreements. 2. Management & Personnel Your organization chart, summary bios of founders or LinkedIn accounts. Got an ESOP already? This where you keep it. 3. Material Contracts for the Company Which contracts are important will depend on your business. This doesn’t need to be all your confidential contracts and agreements. Use your judgment on what can be shared and what you consider ultra-confidential.  You can share contracts for leases, housekeeping services etc. 4. Product / Services / Competition & Intellectual Property I can’t stress enough the importance of this folder – this is where the juice is.  Things we look for are: –    Product roadmap; –    market research information & market sizing; –    list and analysis of competitors; –    metrics and KPIs that you use to track performance. 5. Financial Information Yes, for an early stage company, there might be minimal financial history and information. Still, this information should at least be included in an orderly manner. Build a proper business plan and forecast for at least 2 years ahead.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) A data room is a reflection of your existing file structure. If you’re organized and on top of your record keeping, setting up a data room is a quick and simple exercise. Don’t leave it until the end, or you’ll be scrambling to put something together and it won’t look good in front of your potential investors.

🌟 BONUS: Tools of the trade
Continuing with the organization theme, here are tools we use every day: Pipedrive: For our deal flow management. Very convenient to take the deal from receiving it to the final decision stage. We can integrate all email communication with the startup, have all our notes in one place, and upload all information and documents. Slack: Streamlines communication between the team, with separate discussion rooms and topics. Asana: Our tool of choice for task management, but there are many others you might prefer. Our startups ❤️: Tableau:    Measuring KPIs Chartio:     Interface to your database and get data analytics MixPanel:  Business analytics for mobile and web Intercom:   Customer messaging apps & live chat New Relic: Server monitoring and DevOps tools Segment:   API integrations, especially analytics Crazy Egg: Heatmaps, usability testing, and optimization Sketch:       Design and prototyping Invision:      Design and prototyping
Family Postcard
On the list Artificial Intelligence startup Cognitev, was selected on the SAAS 1000 list, an index of the world’s fastest-growing SaaS companies.
Bring on the drivers Careem is expanding to Iraq, reopening in two Palestinian cities, and hiring female drivers in Saudi Arabia.
It’s true: hardcover to your door Online bookstore, Jamalon,  launched Jamalon Express, a service to deliver books to your doorstep within 48 hours.
Till next month, keep it real…
Hasan Zainal