Fishfishme, the online platform to book fishing charter boats, has announced a seed funding round of US $200,000 from several angel investors, including Sim Whatley, the co-founder of Dubizzle, Abdulaziz AlLoughani, a Kuwaiti investor who formerly served as managing partner at Talabat.com, an online food ordering site, and Saif AlZarouini, an Emariti investor and the founder of Yadig.com, the business reviews site, along with other Kuwaiti angel investors.
The Kuwaiti/Spanish startup, pioneered by Abdullah Alshalabi, a Wamda contributor, launched in 2012 as a marketplace, where customers looking to go on a fishing trip can browse charter boats in various countries and book trips via the site. As of today, the site boasts 300 charter boat partners in more than 20 countries, including France, Italy, Greece, the UK, Oman, Turkey, Thailand, and Spain and the UAE, where the company is based; Alshalabi runs a Dubai office that manages operations and sales, while his co-founder Jose Gil Zafra manages design and development in Malaga, Spain.
This year, the team hopes to extend its strong position in the UAE, Oman, and Spain, while expanding into the US, where recreational anglers took over 70 million fishing trips in 2012, and Alshalabi says that 7 million people book via charter boats per year. South Africa, where the team has hired one salesperson, is also a target, as well as Australia and the U.K., but with fishing boats contacting the startup from all over the world, it's clearly a global concept.
The investment will go towards expanding the team of eight employees, and building out a software platform; today, charter boats confirm potential trips via email or SMS, but a new dashboard will allow boat captains to manage their bookings online if they choose, while responding to customers' questions and viewing their profiles.
To evolve its marketplace, Fishfishme will leverage the experience of its investors, who have worked to build out Dubizzle, the largest regional classified site in the Middle East, Talabat.com, which caters to the Gulf market with its online food ordering platform, and Yadig, a hybrid social network and reviews site that allows customers to rate their experiences at businesses across Middle East. Whatley, who recently left Dubizzle, will be helping FishFishMe gain a foothold in the U.S.
FishFishMe, which takes a commission on each booking, has generated $100,000 in revenue for its charter partners, and is looking to build upon its traction this year, with the assistance of new advisors Abrar Ahmad, a Partner at Travel Capitalist Ventures, a US-based, travel-focused investment firm, and regional entrepreneur and investor Mohammad AlZubi.
Abdullah Alshalabi, the co-founder and managing director of FishFishMe, said in a statement, “We are so pleased and lucky to have such high profile investors and advisors that happen to be successful entrepreneurs as well. They not only bring money to the table, but also their knowledge and expertise on what it takes to build a successful startup. And most interestingly, all of them are so passionate about fishing!”
Sim Whatley, the co-founder of Dubizzle, commented, ”I'm really excited about my investment and advisory role with fishfishme. In a very fragmented industry I feel that this site is poised to help both sides of the business and hopefully my experience with a large C2C business can help accomplish that.”
Abrar Ahmed of Travel Capitalist Ventures added: “FishFishMe helps consumers find their ideal fishing charter experience, helps simplify operations and drives revenues for boat owners, and helps media and travel partners to participate in a lucrative travel niche. FishFishMe is one of the most promising travel startups in the region and I’m equally excited for its next phase of growth.”