Silicon Valley based 500 Startups, the most active early-stage Venture Capital firm in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has announced twelve pre-Series A regional companies participating in the second edition of the MENA Dojo Series A Program following a very rigorous selection process.
The startups in this batch include : Eyewa, online glasses and contact lenses retailer; GymNadz, fitness app for millennials; Keno, on-demand car wash app; La Reina, marketplace for renting dresses; Medihealth, at home doctor service app; Melltoo, second hand goods marketplace app; Mr Draper, personalized clothing stylists for men; MyU, education platform for parents, teachers and students; Nawah, scientific outsourced laboratory service; Plantshop, online nursery commerce; SocialDice, HR platform for recruiters; and VBOUT, marketing technology platform. As part of the program each new startup will receive an investment of up to US$ 150,000 in funding from 500 Startups MENA focused fund, 500 Falcons, in addition to significant hands on mentorship and advice on growth.
Commenting on the announcement, Hasan Haider, Partner, 500 Startups MENA said: “We are extremely proud to announce the second batch of amazing startups at the Series A stage from all across the MENA region. The selection for the program uniquely includes not only whether the startup is investible, but additionally whether our team of growth experts can significantly help the trajectory of the business. At 500 Startups, the Series A Program is focused on building a base growth mindset and structure in each startup, in addition to providing one-on-one active growth mentorship and support. Our focus in the program is on growth metrics to set the startups up to raise stronger funding rounds at the next stage.”
“In line with this strategy, our internal growth team of internationally renowned experts transfer knowledge and best practices around rapid growth and distribution during the one-on-one mentor sessions. The growth techniques help startups to fine-tune their product positioning and prioritise the next stage of development on their roadmap to scale their key metrics.”
Dr. Maher Hakim, QSTP Executive Director, said: “We have some absolutely outstanding talent in Qatar and the MENA region. We congratulate the second batch of the MENA Dojo Series A Program, who emerged successful after a very rigorous selection process.
“Our partnership with global ecosystem builders, such as ‘500 Startups’, reflects Qatar Foundation’s mission to foster innovation locally and regionally. Innovation is a wealth-creation engine. By tapping into the talent of our region and investing in it, we believe that new wealth will be created. Together, we aim to nurture such culture that empowers people to develop interest in technology and product development, and entrepreneurship.”
500 Startups Series A Program is a growth focused program that invests and trains startups all around the world. This year the program is being held in collaboration with Sirdab-labs in Kuwait. The first module of intense growth hacking sessions was held from 1st to 12th April 2018 and was handled by 500’s internationally renowned growth mentors. The second session commenced on 29th April and will run till 9th May. This program will culminate with an exclusive Investors Day on May 10th where the startups will pitch to an audience of investors from all across the region and the rest of the world.
The first ‘Doha Dojo’ program was held by 500 Startups in collaboration with the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) in May 2017. Nine companies participated in the program and were able to raise significant funding after Investor Day. To name a few, Souqalmal raised US$10 million, Eventtus, US$2 million and eat, US$1.8 million.
With the first investment in the MENA region in 2012, 500 Startups has since committed to investments in over 80 startups across the region. With the launch of 500 Falcons, a MENA focused fund in 2017, 500 Startups plans to invest in approximately 100-150 companies over a 3 year period in addition to follow-on investments into the top performing companies.