Unleashing the power of data for MENA startups
By Muhammad Riaz Usman / Khaleej Times
Philip Bahoshy conceptualised the idea of Magnitt.com, the largest startup data platform in the Mena region, when he was pursuing his MBA degree. During a startup weekend bootcamp at Insead, the teams were struggling to connect entrepreneurs with the alumni community. Then he decided to found Magnitt as a pitching platform to connect founders to investors. Since its inception in 2014, Magnitt has evolved into a data and data analytics platform in the Middle East.
"Today, Magnitt is the largest online community for startups across the Mena region," Bahoshy claims.
Based in Dubai, Magnitt connects entrepreneurs directly with ecosystem stakeholders, including funders, mentors, support services and talent.
"Startups can apply for funding directly to VCs and angel networks using their Magnitt profile. Simultaneously, investors, corporates, mentors and service providers can review information on over 5,500 startups, including funding history. Magnitt has a data-driven approach to educate users on the funding landscape through analytical reporting and data dissemination," explains the founder and CEO.
Bahoshy says Magnitt's entrepreneurial journey of has been incredible. "Magnitt has continued to grow since its creation, based on the evolving needs and requirements of our customers. Core to the proposition is data and research reporting to help educated stakeholders from across the ecosystem on the growth of innovation across the Mena region. It has been a continual journey of education and discovery," he says.
Magnitt has released over 20 reports since its inception. The platform currently hosts 5,863 startups, over 12,000 users, including 300+ individual investors and 150+ funding institutions.
"Our strategy is to focus on the accuracy and quality of data and data analytics reporting as well as access for customers to maximise the value of the platform," he says.
Magnitt recently raised close to $1 million (Dh3.67 million) in funding from both international and Gulf-based investors. The investment round was led by 500 Startups along with other regional VCs and angel investors, including Middle East Venture Partners, KISP Ventures, Financial Horizon Group and iNet.
Bahoshy says the funding will accelerate Magnitt's platform development and expansion plans, both regionally and across emerging markets.
"The funding will allow us to accelerate our growth, by further enhancing our platform to better serve our existing markets in the first instance and consequently extending our geographical reach by expanding outside the region where we look to solve similar pain points," Bahoshy says.
"Our key focus for 2018 is to continue to deepen the relationship with institutions across the Mena region as we further develop the Magnitt platform."
"In 2019, we look to expand into neighbouring countries after evaluating their feasibility, including Turkey and Pakistan," he continues.
Bahoshy says raising funding remains one of the biggest challenges for startups across the region.
"It is an extremely time-consuming process and yet it is a key enabler of growth for entrepreneurs. A funding round can take anywhere between three months to over a year to close. By creating a data-driven startup platform with a focus on access to analytics, our aim is to help accelerate that process. Data remains at the core of investment decisions and this trend will continue to dramatically impact the startup and investor ecosystem over the next few years," he says.
Sharif El Badawi, partner at 500 Startups, says accurate data and objective transparency for startups, investors and enablers was almost non-existent before Magnitt.
"Now, it is the de facto source for researchers and reporters within and outside the Mena region. At 500, we value data and transparency tremendously and it was clear to us that backing Magnitt made good business sense all around."
Walid Mansour, partner and chief investment officer at Middle East Venture Partners, says: "For us, as a Mena-focused venture capital firm that invests in the early and growth stages of innovative companies run by talented entrepreneurs, Magnitt is a strategic investment on several levels."
"Firstly, the platform brings much needed reliable and trustworthy information and analysis to our ecosystem. Secondly, we feel that Bahoshy's vision for Magnitt, to foster and help accelerate entrepreneurship in Mena, is aligned with our vision and will help many other startups successfully secure funding and in turn be part of the transformation of our region," says Mansour.