Any Profits in 2020?

Any Profits in 2020?

end of radio silence.

This is not a hacked newsletter. Nor have we relocated our offices to another planet. In fact, we grew into a truly regional VC, having on-ground presence in 5 countries across the MENA. Plus, we did our first closing for Fund II in August and made a whopping 4 new investments. Did I mention we grew our team to 8 members? Okay, enough of the news shower.

Amman hosted us for a few days this week for some team-building fun. You can see sometimes we also cook other things than sizzling deals! We also organized Founders’ Coffee & Chat – a casual meetup with a number of startups in Amman to brainstorm ideas and expansion. Well-spent time indeed. We already miss the laughs.

Now—first things first: Arzan VC’s top 10 trends for 2020. Then we will show you what’s the magic formula of growing a sustainable business.

Let’s go!

The 10 for 2020

1 Cash burning is not so popular anymore and the doomsday of blitzscaling may be near. Immense growth by surprise doesn't always result in a victory.

2 Yes to bootstrapping. Businesses would be checking on their revenues and minimizing losses by focusing on growth in their most profitable areas.

3 Profitability before growth. Priorities reversed.

4 What's your unit economics? Time to do some math 🧮➕➗

5 Long-term sustainability is the new (or old?) kid on the block.

6 Less competition. Less cash burning would be a game changer (ender) for many.

7 B2B could pave the way. Because they are keener on organic growth and sustainability.

8 More market consolidation. Mergers, acquisitions and IPOs.

9 Are you environmentally sustainable? Jeff Bezos has $10B fund for climate-based projects 💵

10 In MENA, initiatives that address logistics issues will continue to dominate the deals. That is transport, delivery, payments and e-commerce.

Disclosure: We don’t necessarily agree with the above trends, but we would still like to share them with you.


 Any profits in 2020?

There’s a lot of recent whispering out there about sustainability and profitability. The world got alerted when in the second half of 2019 Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, a major investor in Uber, Slack and other stellar startups, got shaken by the weak performance of some of its major investments. Not to mention the dramatic failure of WeWork.

Uber, just like Amazon, is a global tech monopoly in its respective field (that’s why they call it “Amazon of transportation”), but do you know what else makes these two similar?

They wouldn’t have been the companies they are today without their growth tactic: blitzscaling. It is a shortcut to immense growth via cash burning, resulting in massive edge in technology and customer base. You’re simply pouring in the money even if the numbers don’t make sense. Sustainability may seem trivial and profitability got a red light. What if the traffic signs don’t work and the business will never see its profits? The argument is that the growth would eventually compensate for the financial losses sometime in the future. Note: eventually does not mean definitely and, at one point, each business has to take certain measures to ensure sound financial standing in the long-run.

It took Amazon over a decade to touch the profits. Uber is yet to be profitable and its CEO recently said it would finally happen by the end of 2020. The main question is: when Uber decides to take measures toward profitability, to what extent would their customers stop using the Uber app? We @ArzanVC don’t feel it’s going to be anything major! Uber improved our daily logistical life and most people would be willing to pay more. (Let’s hope that’s the case—we have invested in a number of mobility players.)

Ultimately, we all want our businesses to be sustainable and profitable. Blitzscaling is a valid growth approach, but it doesn’t fit all business models. Many investors are recently eyeing businesses that opted for a bootstrapping tactic. Those who deliberately focus on the most profitable areas and slow, paced growth. If Uber got bootstrapped, it wouldn’t have grown so fast and it would have most probably been already profitable for some time. Or maybe it would no longer exist, since other players would have grasped the opportunity and burnt cash to grow their market share at the expense of Uber!

We shouldn’t need to remind you that each starting business must know the right ingredients of success and you must take into account different factors when considering a certain growth strategy. Is there a way to find out and predict the feasibility of your business model? Call in unit economics. It is a tool that tells you how much money one unit of any solution or service will generate. Essential from day 1. How much does it cost you to generate $1 value? Unit economics basically measures how much the business gains (or loses) from each customer (or transaction). You can then know if you are on the right path to profits and what to focus on in order to make that hit.


 Many startups are losing with each new customer. Why? Because it costs them a certain amount to attract a customer who is not going to stay with them for long. If you spend $2 for $1 value and your customer base is expanding way too fast, you will only be able to go on at this pace until all your money runs out… 💸

In simple terms, you need to balance well your customer acquisition cost (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLV). That balance can be either positive or negative. Positive unit economics brings cash in, negative robs you of it. If your CAC is bigger than your CLV, you’re basically paying your customers to use your service. You may gain a mighty market share in the early stages, but that alone would not make your business sustainable. In the early days of Uber, Lyft and WeWork, no one looked at profitability—they actually used to make fun of anyone who would do that! After all, VCs are not in the business of early profitability yet the value proposition of any business should always be sticky and impactful. Are your customers willing to spend more or can they “live without you” once you start playing with the pricing? If they feel like your services/solutions are “nice to have but not must-haves,” this means they will be sensitive to price changes, lowered quality etc.

The lesson for 2020 is simple—hold on to your fundamentals and focus on real value creation.

Being over-ambitious on your growth strategy may often turn out to be risky. Do your unit economics, set realistic targets and spend responsibly so that you are able to create and sustain your value. Do you want to have recurring revenues? Then persuade your customers to stay with you for a while. Get under their skin.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) 
Following the falls and losses of many flagship startups in 2019, businesses (and investors!) shift their attention towards unit economics. Measuring costs/gains per transaction can reveal a lot about the future sustainability of any business. Growth-at-any-cost is becoming a strategy of yesterday. Today cares about the value proposition, so that tomorrow could be about long-term sustainability.


Welcome to the Family 

👋👋👋 Repzo, Cartlow, FlexxPay and iKcon. The 4 latest investments we made. Welcome to our ever-growing ArzanVC family!

Repzo is an Amman-based mobile employee management and CRM platform that turns a device into a standalone field force management tool. It allows FMCG and pharmaceutical companies to track and monitor their field employees. Repzo is used in 7 countries by more than 2,500 representatives.

Cartlow is a Dubai-based money-saving e-commerce that offers its customers various famous-name products at lower prices. It recycles, tests and resells returned/excess goods from retailers. No wonder the app has more than 1 million active users!

Dubai-based FlexxPay aims to bring financial security, dignity and savings to those experiencing financial stress. How? By fixing pay frequency problem through an instant pay platform.

iKcon – Innovative Kitchens Concept from Dubai – is all about cloud kitchens in prime locations! Thanks to these modern kitchen spaces, iKcon brings amazing F&B brands to the market – from existing chains to new concepts.

kitchen art

👋👋👋 Repzo, Cartlow, FlexxPay and iKcon. The 4 latest investments we made. Welcome to our ever-growing ArzanVC family!

Repzo is an Amman-based mobile employee management and CRM platform that turns a device into a standalone field force management tool. It allows FMCG and pharmaceutical companies to track and monitor their field employees. Repzo is used in 7 countries by more than 2,500 representatives.

Cartlow is a Dubai-based money-saving e-commerce that offers its customers various famous-name products at lower prices. It recycles, tests and resells returned/excess goods from retailers. No wonder the app has more than 1 million active users!

Dubai-based FlexxPay aims to bring financial security, dignity and savings to those experiencing financial stress. How? By fixing pay frequency problem through an instant pay platform.

iKcon – Innovative Kitchens Concept from Dubai – is all about cloud kitchens in prime locations! Thanks to these modern kitchen spaces, iKcon brings amazing F&B brands to the market – from existing chains to new concepts.


Family Postcard


Where to begin? 😍 

Amman-based game publisher Tamatem raised $3.5 million Series A.

POSRocket opened new offices in Kuwait and Alexandria, and they just made the first step to enter the Saudi market. Their integration with Talabat and FineDine is now live, and they also launched a new product called Kitchen Display System (KDS) that replaces printed or handwritten ticket orders in commercial kitchens by connecting to the restaurant’s point-of-sale!

Swvl, a premium alternative to public transport, launched new routes in Egypt between Cairo and other governorates. Trukker, the Uber for trucks, expanded in Egypt. And Cartlow, one of our latest investments, has recently entered Saudi Arabia.

+ 1 news full of love – CrowdAnalyzer looked at how MENA celebrated Valentine’s Day in 2020.

date time
Latest Jobs @ArzanVC Family
Please stay healthy!
stay healthy
The Bread Starter

The Bread Starter

I don’t know what it is, maybe it’s the energy of spring but this month has been full with positivity and great progress. That’s why we have a bunch of great news for you this month! But before we jump in, we are excited to announce that partnered with the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) in another step towards taking our portfolio companies regional!

That being said, we also have potential pre-seeds in mind. We know that the cost of starting a business is expensive, bureaucratic, and difficult to raise funds or find the right talent or mentors for it. That’s why this month’s piece will be talking about common mistakes pre-seeds do and our advice to avoid them.

Let’s dig in!

The Bread Starter

They met with you, they heard your pitch, they are on the verge of funding your company, only they backout at the last minute. Bummer right? If you’re wondering what might’ve changed potential investors’ minds (or our minds), it could be one of these reasons, 

Your cap table is all over the place
As an Investor, we want to understand who is already on your cap table. My team and I might steer away from investing in a startup if we find that there’s, 

a). An inactive co-founder on board. It looks bad to us knowing there’s someone already onboard who’s not fully invested in their capital, so why should we?

b). Family members. Raising capital from family around you is great but problematic, especially living in a collective society where the line of differentiating between family and business is thin.

c). Founder shares. Even though common shares are usually associated with founders of the startup, sometimes they try to sell common stocks to potential investors as well. And while some investors accept taking common stocks, we generally insist on preferred shares simply to protect our investment.

Our advice? Diversify your cap table with people who can help you grow and buy out your inactive cofounder(s), don’t take family members onboard unless you’re 100% sure business won’t turn into a family matter and make sure that any cash invested into your company is converted to preferred shares. And who can adapt best? The businesses that are flexible. We have entered a work-at-home economy, which favors companies that can come up with solutions no matter if the life moved out from offices to our dining tables and living rooms.


Let’s talk mentors & advisors
For pre-seed startups, advisors can be particularly useful for tasks such as building out a company’s network of fundraising options, yet we’ve noticed that pre-seeds tend to, 

a). Compensate advisors with common shares with a range of 3% to 15% per advisor vested over 3 years. Yikes! This high cost can be avoided by paying advisors with an equity stake that ranges from 0.15% to 1% of the outstanding common stock of the company (on a fully-diluted basis). 

b). Have too many advisors onboard without having a clear role for each advisor. So you got rid of inactive founders, why are you keeping the burden of having to pay someone who isn’t adding anything beneficial to your business? Each advisor should fill a specific gap in your experience. Set clear commitments and expectations.

c). Get advisors who do not invest in them. Advisors shouldn’t just give consultation but must also have skin in the game. They should invest some money, something to reflect their belief in the business, no matter how small. 

Our advice? Pay attention to how much you’re putting into your advisors and don’t go overboard, only hire advisors that can give clear consultations and fill your current gaps, and look for advisors who don’t only look at you as a client but actually believe enough in your business through investing in it.

Well, overall poor fundraising decisions
Some minor slips that founders don’t put in mind can cost them a lot and eventually not getting the funding they need, some examples include, 

a). Not building traction after pre-seed. Founders of startups assume that maintaining the same market size that got them their pre-seed funding is enough to raise another round. Wrong. As a VC, we don’t just want to see consistent traction but an increase in attracting a bigger consumer pool before we invest hundreds of thousands of cash into a startup. Look into marketing your product or service or do a revalidation before meeting with VCs for your seed round. 

b). Taking too long to raise by talking to juniors/associates. Go with investors who show that they understand what you’re doing. Try to talk to a partner first. Don’t talk to every VC on the planet.

c). Lack of research. Before approaching the VC you want, make sure you know everything about it. When we invest in a company, we look into every nook and cranny before we invest and put our money into it and we expect you to do the same. We do this because once we invest, we are staying with you for a long period of time and will have an affect on every future round. 

Our advice? In order to continue raising funds for your startup make sure to continue building your traction, don’t take the shortcut, instead, try talking directly with the partners of the VC, and choose your VC wisely through extensive research.  


Fresh Squeeze 🍊🍊
News from  

You asked and we listened! Blender is now offering more licensed offices options for rent!

We now have two new licensed offices! Check memberships and new prices by joining our Instagram page @joinblender or give us a call at +96522203022 



Family Postcard


Bling bling! ✨✨
Amazing news from direct-to-consumer jewelry startup Mejuri, raising $23 million in Series B. Congratulations!!






Do you see us now? 🔍
The World Economic Forum and the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) have partnered and selected some of our portfolio companies shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Can you identify them?



Touched by royalty 👑
In a pleasant surprise, Queen Rania paid a visit to POSRocket to give her support.




Till next time, stay hydrated and Ramadan Kareem!




Open the gates

Open the gates

Here’s the thing – entrepreneurship is the hot topic in the region and thankfully, governments and institutions have caught on. Whereas small business lending was the primary method of involvement from governments in the past, today we are seeing much more in terms of training programs, the introduction of new licenses and structures, as well as funding efforts. Having said that, in order to encourage growth in the sector, there needs to be a favorable environment for venture capitalists to operate. There are positive initiatives being announced in an effort to create such an environment. For example, Bahrain Development Bank has recently announced a $100m venture fund of funds. In the UAE, a new venture capital regulatory framework has been put in place to guarantee a standard of governance for the asset class, thereby increasing its competitiveness and attractiveness. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is exploring different platforms to invest in VCs and attract them to the market. But where do we stand and why is this really important?

Government funding programs vs. VC funding – what difference does it make?

While most government funding programs are created because of social and political reasons, VC’s are founded with the aim to generate high returns to their Limited Partners. Due to this critical difference, we conduct our business in very different ways. VC’s are crucial for the success and development of every entrepreneurial ecosystem. Like any other industry, if competition is there, the venture capitalist will be pushed to develop and innovate in order to differentiate themselves from other players. Startups will ultimately receive a better “service,” and will see that the financial support is secondary to the added value provided by VC’s. Moreover, founders will be able to shop between VC’s and choose the right partner. Over time, VC’s will start to narrow down their segment focus to achieve expertise and will recruit high caliber team members and experts to ensure competitiveness. With that in hand, strong VCs will be able to intelligently filter and invest in top startups with solid teams and products. At this stage, great entrepreneurs have been funded while VC’s are continuously upping their game. This environment will attract more high-potential entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and the ecosystem will flourish. Going back to our topic, If governments want to take on the VC role, who will they compete with? With the absence of LP’s, how will their performance be evaluated? Their teams probably would not have a carry incentive scheme, so how can we gauge commitment? Would fixed salaries of team members push them to select the best startups or focus merely on the value deployed and the number of companies funded? How will procedures, layers, and bureaucracy affect responsiveness?

Alright, so what can be done?

All of us ecosystem participants (VC’s, founders, governments, etc) have the same ultimate objective of building a thriving ecosystem, but each one of us has a different driving force. We need to work towards meeting our individual goals to collectively benefit the overarching goal for the government: job creation, economic development, and progress. In order to achieve that, I believe we need to see the following: 1. Define roles: there are many players in the ecosystem and everyone’s role is very important, however, we fall into the trespassing problem. This problem will only be solved if we can define each player’s role and be disciplined about it. If everyone is dedicated to their roles, an ecosystem can flourish efficiently with fewer obstacles ahead.  Government roles can include ensuring proper legal structures and protection are in place as well as reforming taxation and labor policies. 2. Say no to direct funding: I am a strong believer that governments should not fund startups directly. They should act as enablers and regulators. Why? Simply, they do not have the required DNA which can match that of a specialized investor. In addition, government officials are influenced by politics and many other social aspects all which influence their decisions and vision. 3. Collaborate: GCC governments are working in silos when it comes to solving VC’s and entrepreneurs’ challenges. Collaborations between governments will speed up the process,  allow better knowledge sharing and bring all countries up to the same level.  I take part in many of these discussions and there is a significant difference between where each country stands. Will we see the day where entrepreneurs are allowed to expand cross-border and operate in the region more easily, allowing them to grow their businesses and attract foreign investment? We sure hope so.  

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)

Supporting the booming entrepreneurial ecosystem means also creating a favorable environment for VCs. Regional governments can get on board with this by focusing on empowering entrepreneurs, leaving funding to investors, and collaborating with each other to create a thriving ecosystem.
  Read the whole ArzanVC July newsletter here
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