Hey folks,

Eid Mubarak! Every year we hear about Ramadan being a slow month with barely any activity. This Ramadan was surprisingly busy in the region and for AVC as well, and it was refreshing to see the ecosystem bustling un-caffeinated 🙂 On the AVC end, we’re so excited to tell you about a new offering we have in the works, and our latest investment, POS Rocket. Hope you all have a great Eid break and start to the summer holidays!

MENA EDTech Startups

This month, we looked at the EDTech sector in MENA. EDtech companies focus on designing effective academic instruction using technology, media and learning theory.  Our map illustrates a variety of categories in the market where we are seeing an increase in number of and growth in regional startups.  We found a large number of startups focused on creating educational content and software for young learners in Arabic, as can be seen below. In addition, companies offering platforms for tutoring and providing supplemental courses linked to public curriculums are increasing, indicating the dire need for quality educational content and delivery. Overall, with the increase in internet penetration and new forms of media in the region, there appears to be huge potential for further innovation and growth in this sector. Where are the gaps in MENA edtech? Can it scale across the region?

Join the discussion at #arzanVCchats

Reap the Seeds you Sow 🌱

Close your eyes and imagine this….

A passionate individual has a hunch for a product that could potentially solve a big problem that people face in the MENA region. It’s been occupying his mind for some time. He can visualize the world with his product and what it could become.  It’s brilliant and he’s fired up. He puts in his time and money to work on bringing this rocking idea to reality. He diligently researches the market and convinces others to join him in achieving his vision. Together as a team, they work day and night for 8 months to produce an MVP.  After much trial and error, their MVP works and they high-five each other ✋, but sadly, they realize they’ve run out of money.They decide to raisea small amount of funds to enable them to test and build some traction. With great enthusiasm, he knocks the doors of family and friends but realizes that some turn out to be too expensive. He’s stunned. Some have asked for 40%+ of the company! Why? Because the company has a tiny capital base, no assets, and is not a “profit generating company!” The disappointed founder, clinging on to his dream, decides to explore his investor options. He has meetings with corporates & large institutions, but ironically, they send him job offers instead of checks! Thanks, but no thanks. Unwilling to give up on his vision, he pursues regional VCs, but they (including Arzan VC) worry about the risks and ask the founder to come back once sufficient traction is reached.That said, the founder is left with three difficult alternatives: accept an unfair deal and regret it for the rest of his life, become a career person, or bury the idea once and for all.  Buzzkill.  The sad thing is this idea could have been Souq, Careem, Carriage, Talabat …etc, but the difference is that it did not get it’s real chance to get off the ground.Sound familiar…? We’re sure it is.

Moral of the story
If we do not plant seeds, we won’t see trees! Hence, if no Pre-Seed (MVP is available but no traction) investments are made, no sufficient Seed and Post Seed deals will be available. This also means the $100mn+ VC funds that are currently being raised won’t see adequate deal flow.

This has been on our mind at AVC & here’s what we are going to do about it…

We are taking the initiative to invest in the seeds of the ecosystem. This fall, we are launching a dedicated Pre-Seed platform to turn this story around.

How it works Startup founder(s) will log onto our Pre-Seed platform, tick simple criteria boxes, upload a pitch deck, hit submit and track our investment process. Within two weeks the founder will receive a decision. If approved, s/he will receive $25,000 and all legal/admin documents required.  The founder will then need to raise at least another $25,000 (from angels) based on our standard terms.  Wait – that’s not it!  Once you’re in, you’re in! We will continue funding up to Series A and the ticket size will vary per stage. Sweet. There’s more, but we’ll keep the other perks as a surprise for you once we launch! Our investment criteria We are looking for the basics: 🌱 Minimum round of $50,000 🌱 A technical co-founder (available or joining) 🌱 Focusing on a Large market 🌱 Operating in a legal entity We will invite other angels/VC’s to co-invest, provide feedback and interact via our platform.
too long; didn’t read We are launching our in-house Pre-Seed Platform to invest in companies at MVP stage in September 2017.  Companies that meet the investment criteria will receive a decision (within two weeks!), followed with $25k in funding + required documentation.We would love to hear your thoughts.  What would you like to see on the platform? What capabilities/functionality would make the process for you smoother as a founder? Investor?  Hit reply and let us know.

5 things you’ll want to check out

Family Postcard

Ramadan Careem Careem raised $150m to close out its $500M Series E round. Also, Careem launched operations in Palestine and is working towards improving mobility and economic growth in the country.

He’s got game Tamatem Games CEO, Hussam Hammo has been selected as an Endeavor Entrepreneur. Tamatem also got covered in Inc Arabia 👏👏👏

When nobody wants to be notetaker Use AI to summarize your meetings with the Wrappup Slackbot and get the meeting notes in Slack! It even got featured on Product Hunt with 200+ votes!

Here comes the jam

Jamalon, the largest online bookstore in the Middle East, has been featured in Forbes. They’re also expanding their tech team and are looking for an android mobile developer (senior), front-end developer (senior), UI/UX designer (senior), and 4 PHP back-end developers.  Applicants can send their CVs to jobs@jamalon.com

Welcome to the fam We’d like to introduce you to POSRocket,  our latest investment, and member of the AVC family.  Led by CEO, Zeid Husban,  POSRocket is a cloud-based point-of-sale platform in the MENA region that improves customer discovery and intelligently increases sales. Their target audience is small to medium sized businesses that struggle with growth as well as retailers not currently using a POS or inventory management system. POSRocket supplies merchants with a cloud-based POS platform that consists of a software and a hardware component (iPad, cash drawer, and receipt printer). Say 👋 to Zeid Zeid is a second time founder; his first startup, ifood.jo was sold to Yemeksepeti (later acquired by Rocket Internet). For POSRocket, Zeid brings relevant industry experience in the food industry. But not just the food industry… POSRocket is also working with other types of businesses such as retail outlets, services and entertainment industry.  The opportunities for growth are endless.  We are happy to announce also that Arzan VC is leading this investment round.

On this festive occasion, I’d like to wish you happy eid to you and your loved ones!

Keep it real, Hasan Zainal