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 👀!
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.
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
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
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
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
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
is a broad category that includes companies doing innovative things such as 3d mapping (e.g. Falcon Viz
) and crowd management (e.g. Hoshood
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 local
players 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
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.
, 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,