DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 18, 2018. 

Fares Ghandour, Partner at Wamda Capital.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Reporter: 
Section:    BZ
Fares Ghandour says more aspiring entrepreneurs should be encouraged to "take the mental leap" to form start-ups. Reem Mohammed / The National

Wamda's new programme aims to help pre-seed stage entrepreneurs



If you have a brilliant idea to help solve a pressing issue in the region but no business plan, connections or funding – Wamda X wants to hear from you.

Funded by venture capital company Wamda Group, Wamda X wants to tap into what it believes is an under-leveraged part of a start-up's life cycle in the Middle East and North Africa region: the pre-seed stage. This is when entrepreneurs are in search of a home base to develop their big idea, and who may otherwise ask friends and family to help bootstrap their trial period.

The programme is for anyone who clocks in at a day job while harbouring start-up ambitions, but has perhaps been too nervous to make the leap to full-time entrepreneurship.

“It’s start-ups de-risked,” said Fares Ghandour, partner at Wamda. “We want to disrupt and compete with family and friends’ investments” – referring to the earliest stage for a founder, when he or she is working out an idea and perhaps testing out a prototype and a business model.

Venture capital activity in Mena hit record levels last year, up 31 per cent, totalling $893 million compared to 2017, start-up community platform Magnitt said in a report this month. Mr Ghandour said, start-ups in the region could be even more active if there was a larger effort by funders to reduce barriers to entry rather than allowing pre-seed start-ups to work in isolation.

Wamda X is looking for ventures that will "go after large market failures that have cross-border applications". He names Mumzworld, Jamilon and Crowd Analyzer – all part of the Wamda Capital portfolio – as good examples of this mandate.

Mumzworld tapped into an enormous e-commerce market in the GCC of new mothers who had limited retail options in search of baby supplies; Jamilon brought a fragmented Arabic publishing industry on to a single distribution channel; and Crowd Analyzer, too, has built a social media monitoring company tapping into the lack of consumer insight for the Arabic-speaking world.

All three companies operate in Mena and offer a service where one did not previously exist – the sweet spot for successful ventures, Mr Ghandour said.  

Successful Wamda X applicants receive a $16,000 grant (Dh58,770) – or up to $25,000 if a team of two – that is divided into four monthly stipends and office space next door to Wamda's headquarters in the Dubai Design District. The first two months emphasises on building a team and mentorship from the founders of Yallacompare, Bayt and Namshi, among others.  

By the end of the four-month programme, Mr Ghandour said entrepreneurs should have the tools and processes in place to help them launch their businesses.

For Wamda Capital, it is a front-row seat to what aspiring entrepreneurs are puzzling over and the industries driving innovation. So far, Mr Ghandour said, applicants are largely from Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Sub-Saharan Africa. This is useful data because Wamda X may launch future cohorts that are Kenya or Saudi Arabia-
specific.

The majority of the 300 applicants have been engineers from Egypt or Jordan, with a lot of interest in developing clean water and energy ventures. There has not been as much FinTech as Wamda X anticipated, but Mr Ghandour said that could be due to high upfront capital needed to be in the financial services space.

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At the end of the programme there is a buy-in option for companies, with Wamda X graduates receiving $100,000 in investment, in exchange for 10 per cent equity for Wamda. This will build a pipeline of early-stage ventures for the company to track and make further investments in future funding rounds.

In Mr Ghandour’s experience, all successful start-ups have two things in common: a mature founder, maybe with a few years of work experience; and a nagging drive to solve a problem. The combination of leadership and drive can’t be taught, he said, but “everything else you can learn on the job”.

Would-be start-up founders just “have to take the mental leap”, he said.

Seven tips from Emirates NBD

1. Never respond to e-mails, calls or messages asking for account, card or internet banking details

2. Never store a card PIN (personal identification number) in your mobile or in your wallet

3. Ensure online shopping websites are secure and verified before providing card details

4. Change passwords periodically as a precautionary measure

5. Never share authentication data such as passwords, card PINs and OTPs  (one-time passwords) with third parties

6. Track bank notifications regarding transaction discrepancies

7. Report lost or stolen debit and credit cards immediately

ASSASSIN'S CREED MIRAGE

Developer: Ubisoft Bordeaux
Publisher: Ubisoft
Consoles: PlayStation 4&5, PC and Xbox Series S&X
Rating: 3.5/5

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

THE DETAILS

Kaala

Dir: Pa. Ranjith

Starring: Rajinikanth, Huma Qureshi, Easwari Rao, Nana Patekar  

Rating: 1.5/5 

It's Monty Python's Crashing Rocket Circus

To the theme tune of the famous zany British comedy TV show, SpaceX has shown exactly what can go wrong when you try to land a rocket.

The two minute video posted on YouTube is a compilation of crashes and explosion as the company, created by billionaire Elon Musk, refined the technique of reusable space flight.

SpaceX is able to land its rockets on land once they have completed the first stage of their mission, and is able to resuse them multiple times - a first for space flight.

But as the video, How Not to Land an Orbital Rocket Booster, demonstrates, it was a case if you fail, try and try again.

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Company profile

Name:+Dukkantek 

Started:+January 2021 

Founders:+Sanad Yaghi, Ali Al Sayegh and Shadi Joulani 

Based:+UAE 

Number of employees:+140 

Sector:+B2B Vertical SaaS(software as a service) 

Investment:+$5.2 million 

Funding stage:+Seed round 

Investors:+Global Founders Capital, Colle Capital Partners, Wamda Capital, Plug and Play, Comma Capital, Nowais Capital, Annex Investments and AMK Investment Office  

MATCH INFO

Manchester City 6 Huddersfield Town 1
Man City: Agüero (25', 35', 75'), Jesus (31'), Silva (48'), Kongolo (84' og)
Huddersfield: Stankovic (43')

Superliminal

Developer: Pillow Castle Games
Publisher: Pillow Castle Games
Console: PlayStation 4&5, Xbox Series One & X/S, Nintendo Switch, PC and Mac
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Dooda Solutions
Based: Lebanon
Founder: Nada Ghanem
Sector: AgriTech
Total funding: $300,000 in equity-free funding
Number of employees: 11

PRISCILLA

Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi

Rating: 3/5

The Bio

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Favourite place to relax in UAE: the desert around Al Mleiha in Sharjah or the eastern mangroves in Abu Dhabi
The one book everyone should read: 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It will make your mind fly
Favourite documentary: Chasing Coral by Jeff Orlowski. It's a good reality check about one of the most valued ecosystems for humanity

57 Seconds

Director: Rusty Cundieff
Stars: Josh Hutcherson, Morgan Freeman, Greg Germann, Lovie Simone
Rating: 2/5

ATP WORLD No 1

2004 Roger Federer

2005 Roger Federer

2006 Roger Federer

2007 Roger Federer

2008 Rafael Nadal

2009 Roger Federer

2010 Rafael Nadal

2011 Novak Djokovic

2012 Novak Djokovic

2013 Rafael Nadal

2014 Novak Djokovic

2015 Novak Djokovic

2016 Andy Murray

2017 Rafael Nadal

2018 Novak Djokovic

2019 Rafael Nadal

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Who is Ramon Tribulietx?

Born in Spain, Tribulietx took sole charge of Auckland in 2010 and has gone on to lead the club to 14 trophies, including seven successive Oceania Champions League crowns. Has been tipped for the vacant New Zealand national team job following Anthony Hudson's resignation last month. Had previously been considered for the role. 

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

RECORD BREAKER

Youngest debutant for Barcelona: 15 years and 290 days v Real Betis
Youngest La Liga starter in the 21st century: 16 years and 38 days v Cadiz
Youngest player to register an assist in La Liga in the 21st century: 16 years and 45 days v Villarreal
Youngest debutant for Spain: 16 years and 57 days v Georgia
Youngest goalscorer for Spain: 16 years and 57 days
Youngest player to score in a Euro qualifier: 16 years and 57 days

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

The biog

Favourite car: Ferrari

Likes the colour: Black

Best movie: Avatar

Academic qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in media production from the Higher Colleges of Technology and diploma in production from the New York Film Academy

'Saand Ki Aankh'

Produced by: Reliance Entertainment with Chalk and Cheese Films
Director: Tushar Hiranandani
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Bhumi Pednekar, Prakash Jha, Vineet Singh
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

What drives subscription retailing?

Once the domain of newspaper home deliveries, subscription model retailing has combined with e-commerce to permeate myriad products and services.

The concept has grown tremendously around the world and is forecast to thrive further, according to UnivDatos Market Insights’ report on recent and predicted trends in the sector.

The global subscription e-commerce market was valued at $13.2 billion (Dh48.5bn) in 2018. It is forecast to touch $478.2bn in 2025, and include the entertainment, fitness, food, cosmetics, baby care and fashion sectors.

The report says subscription-based services currently constitute “a small trend within e-commerce”. The US hosts almost 70 per cent of recurring plan firms, including leaders Dollar Shave Club, Hello Fresh and Netflix. Walmart and Sephora are among longer established retailers entering the space.

UnivDatos cites younger and affluent urbanites as prime subscription targets, with women currently the largest share of end-users.

That’s expected to remain unchanged until 2025, when women will represent a $246.6bn market share, owing to increasing numbers of start-ups targeting women.

Personal care and beauty occupy the largest chunk of the worldwide subscription e-commerce market, with changing lifestyles, work schedules, customisation and convenience among the chief future drivers.

Company profile

Company name: Leap
Started: March 2021
Founders: Ziad Toqan and Jamil Khammu
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Funds raised: Undisclosed
Current number of staff: Seven

Washmen Profile

Date Started: May 2015

Founders: Rami Shaar and Jad Halaoui

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Laundry

Employees: 170

Funding: about $8m

Funders: Addventure, B&Y Partners, Clara Ventures, Cedar Mundi Partners, Henkel Ventures

THE SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Transmission: Constant Variable (CVT)

Power: 141bhp 

Torque: 250Nm 

Price: Dh64,500

On sale: Now

The Baghdad Clock

Shahad Al Rawi, Oneworld

The biog

Fatima Al Darmaki is an Emirati widow with three children

She has received 46 certificates of appreciation and excellence throughout her career

She won the 'ideal mother' category at the Minister of Interior Awards for Excellence

Her favourite food is Harees, a slow-cooked porridge-like dish made from boiled wheat berries mixed with chicken

match details

Wales v Hungary

Cardiff City Stadium, kick-off 11.45pm


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