State of MENA Startups 2019
October 2019

We are excited to have worked together with 500 Startups and their MENA-based portfolio companies to launch the first-of-its-kind "State of Startups" report for the Middle East and North Africa.

 

We have surveyed 100+ MENA-based founders of the 500 Falcons portfolio to gather their thoughts, opinions, challenges and perceived opportunities of being an entrepreneur in the region. Each of these founders has received at least one round of venture investment. Through the data that was gathered, this report looks to shed light on entrepreneurial practices and opinions in the region, including the fundraising exercise, exit opportunities, operations, talent availability and more. These topics are broken down by section, as shown below.

 

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Fundraising

Raising funds is not easy for any startup, which is evident from the responses to the survey. On average, it took 500 Startups’ MENA-based startups 7 months to close their funding round, during which most pitched to between 6 and 10 investors.

    


Investment Dynamics

79% of respondents believe that the power of the fundraising exercise has been with investors last year, making for a challenging fundraising process. Moreover, 57% of respondents believe they will exit their startups in the next 5 years, with 59% certain they will sell for a $100M valuation or higher.

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Hiring Talent

No matter your location, hiring talent for your startup is one of the largest challenges for any founder. Similar to revenue growth, 62% see hiring talent as a challenge that keeps them up at night, with 40% highlighting a lack of talent as the main concern. However, on average respondents are looking to hire roughly 16 people over the coming 12 months.


Operations

From an operational perspective, 81% of founders optimise for the growth of their company, not profitability. Nonetheless, more than half of the respondents believe that they will be profitable within 3 years, with 15% indicating that they already are.


This State of MENA Startups report looks to act as a basis for future analysis on what is quickly developing into a vibrant ecosystem – we hope that it will provide insights to further spark discussion, and welcome any views, comments or feedback that you might have on how to improve for future iterations.

 

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All data contained in this report was obtained by MAGNiTT through an independent survey of certain 500 Falcons portfolio companies, and no such information was directly provided by 500 Falcons or its affiliates for purposes of this report. Under no circumstances should any information or content in the report be considered as an offer to sell or solicitation of interest to purchase any securities advised by 500 Falcons or any of its affiliates or representatives. Further, no content in the report is intended as an offer to provide any investment advisory service with regard to securities by 500 Falcons or its affiliates. Under no circumstances should anything in the report be construed as fund marketing materials by prospective investors considering an investment into any 500 Startups investment fund. 


Data Insights