$25m US fund pumps investment into MENA start-ups

A new initiative has been opened by a Silicon Valley-based venture capital fund to target technology companies in the MidEast.

TURN 8’s Investor Demo Day held on Saturday at the Meydan Hotel in Dubai.

TURN 8’s Investor Demo Day held on Saturday at the Meydan Hotel in Dubai.

A $25m venture capital fund for MENA start-ups has been announced during the TURN 8’s Investor Demo Day held on Saturday at the Meydan Hotel in Dubai.

The Silicon Valley venture capital fund, Fenox Venture Capital, is now targeting regional start-ups to invest 25 percent of their newly opened global $100m venture capital fund over the next decade, announced Brent Traidman, general partner at Fenox Venture Capital, at the opening of the pitching event.

He was one of the interested investors who came to hear 15-minute pitches at TURN8’s second round of tech start-ups, who received a seed funding of $30,000 each and spent 120 days at the accelerator.

Mohamed Hamdy, managing director of TURN8, which is an initiative of DP World and powered by i360accelerator, said: “We look for an app that can solve a problem, has potential to make revenue and expand regionally.”

The five tech start-ups from the UAE, Australia, India, Georgia and Egypt presented the projects they were seeking investment for.

The San Jose-based fund invests anywhere between $25,000 and $200,000 in each start-up, especially in the areas of e-commerce, mobile, social and cloud technologies besides those working on business-to-business software and hardware and advertising technology.

Fenox Venture Capital charges a two percent management fee, while 80 percent of the returns on capital go back to the investors and the rest to the fund.

It has previously sourced its investments from the Silicon Valley accelerators YCombinator and 500 Startups, and Japan’s Samurai Incubate.

Kamal Hassan, the founder of the i360 accelerator in Dubai, will be Fenox’s general partner in the region.

Traidman shared with the audience a few details from the Silicon Valley Health Report stating that the market was currently focused on acquisitions and looking at the development of the global messaging ecosystem.

According to him, the Global OTT (over-the-top) messaging services market is currently dominated by only few players – WhatsApp from USA, Line from Japan, Tencent WeChat from China, KakaoTalk from Korea, Snapchat from USA and Viber from Israel.

He further added that healthcare IT, medical devices and pharmaceuticals as well as the education sector were the areas to focus on in the future from a Silicon Valley investor’s point of view.

DP World launched TURN8 in 2013 and graduates of Round 1 pitched to investors in January 2014, with the event attracting interest from around the globe.

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