Following up on our earlier post announcing the first closing of 500 Falcons, our fund for the Middle East and North Africa, we’re going to be posting a few more announcements on the MENA region and the meaningful ecosystem-building projects we’re working on.
As we’ve been investing in the region over the last 6 years, we’ve seen a lot of similarities between the Middle East and other emerging entrepreneurial markets in comparison to the startups we see in Silicon Valley. One particular area of focus that we felt needed a big boost was growth hacking. Growth hacking in simple terms is data-driven, online customer acquisition and distribution methodologies that have evolved as a distinct skill set from either traditional business development, sales or marketing. For this reason, we thought it made a lot of sense to bring our Series A Program to the region with QSTP. Our inaugural Batch 1 kicked off with 9 post-seed startups on the 30th of April and will continue through the 30th July. In addition to arming the batch companies with the skills and processes to scale their businesses quickly, we’re coaching them on presentation and fundraising so they can achieve progression into their next funding round.
Our partnership with the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and the Qatar Foundation has been a fruitful one for startups in the MENA region, as it has enabled us to bring our growth hacking superpowered “Distro Team” to the region to transfer knowledge and best practices around rapid growth and distribution.
The program was led by Nate Gilmore, along with Saalim Chowdhury, Andy Young, Nopadon Wongpakdee, Nemo Chu, Roula Khatib, Mathew Johnson and 500 Falcons partner, Sharif El-Badawi.
The Series A Program, which is the first 500 Startups program in the MENA region, is a 3 month program hyper-focused on teaching late seed stage companies growth (sales and marketing teams) and modern distribution hacking techniques. The program consists of a 1 month in-residency training (at QSTP) followed by 2 months of mentoring. Here are a few of the tools that the startups develop expertise in over the 3 months:
The 1 month in-residence culminated in an exciting Investor Day where the startups pitched their companies to an auditorium full of investors and key stakeholders. All 9 startups received tremendous interest for their Series A rounds.
The startups have already begun achieving great results in the Dojo during the first month and we’re excited to work with Batch 1 for the next two months as they run countless more experiments across their funnels. Here are just a few of the comments heard in the Dojo:
It puts you in beast mode about your business. Very tangible and structured learnings. Great chance to learn from other founders and team members.
Legit and honest feedback, no BS. Amazing help from experts to uncover growth avenues.
We learned a customer driven, clear, repeatable and measurable way to make changes that have an impact every week.
Check out each of the 9 companies, hailing from 4 countries, who were part of the first batch of MENA companies that joined the program:
Eat – eatapp.co
Eat allows you to find restaurants around you and confirm your reservation in less than three clicks. It has two products, one for restaurants, and another for consumers. The consumer app is simple. No need to call! The restaurants have an iPad installed at the front desk. This app allows restaurants to internally manage reservations and tables, and to notify the consumer app about availabilities.
Edfa3ly – edfa3ly.co
Edfa3ly provides the Middle East with a personal shopping service to buy Western goods without any of the hassles and confusion of cross border shipping. Orders are fast and guaranteed.
Eventtus – eventtus.com
Eventtus is an event engagement platform and mobile app for event planning, networking and ticketing. Eventtus helps event organizers create an interactive mobile app for their events in few minutes. Through the app, organizers share content, such as the agenda/logistics, speaker bios, and exhibitors. Polls and surveys provide real-time feedback, and Eventtus’ post-event analytics help organizers understand their audiences, measure success, and improve future planning.
Mumm – getmumm.com
Mumm, the first word many of us ever learned to exemplify food that we got from our most trusted source, our Moms. Mumm is an online marketplace for delicious Home Cooked Meals. Cooked by Moms, Housewives and Freelance Chefs near you. Order your food and it will arrive fresh and healthy.
Ghinwa – ghinwa.com
Ghinwa is the Snapchat for singing. Download the app, sing along to your favorite tune, apply Ghinwa exclusive background music and filters and share with your loved ones.
Justmop – justmop.com
Justmop.com is a website and mobile app connecting individuals looking for cleaning services with well-trained & pre-screened cleaning service providers across the gulf.
Meddy – meddy.co
Meddy helps you find best doctors in the gulf based on patient reviews and credentials. Browse doctor profiles with their background information, get reviews from other patients going to that doctor and get clinic locations. Make an informed health decision based on knowledge, not chance.
Find Doctor profiles, patient reviews, clinic locations. Helping you make informed health decisions.
Souq Al Mal – souqalmal.com
Souqalmal.com (Souq al Mal is Arabic for ‘money market’) is the #1 comparison website in the Middle East and lets you compare and buy financial and insurance products. With more than 360 credit cards, 450 bank accounts, 147 personal loans, 100 car loans, 105 mortgages, 1143 mobile phone plans, 150 broadband plans, 280 schools and 234 nurseries and 100+ car deals, plus 115 SME financial products, the consumer portal allows customers to do their homework using up-to-date, unbiased information.
Taskty – taskty.com
Taskty is the #1 online home service market in Egypt. Taskty provides home cleaning, washing upholstery, plumbing, electricity, insect control, photography events and many other services.
Taskty services are guaranteed for quality at extremely competitive prices.