Harir has made history. The membership-based shopping website from Jordan has not only become the first of its country’s business to successfully crowdinvest, it has also become the first business in the world to raised funds through an international platform – Dubai’s Eureeca.
While other platforms only allow businesses to raise money within their own country, Eureeca allows investment to come in from just about anywhere. Something Harir has benefited hugely from, with investors from the UK, UAE and Saudi Arabia all contributing funds.
With interest from such a broad spectrum, it is no surprise Harir hit its target in just eight days.
Co-founder Mousa Ayoubi says: “We have raised $86,000 so far, which makes us 172 percent overfunded. It’s really incredible – we never anticipated we would get there so quickly.”
Ayoubi, an engineering graduate with experience in Silicon Valley and the Jordanian Royal Court, and an MBA from Oxford University, started Harir with his sister, Hanae (who also holds an MBA, from London Business School) in 2012.
Noticing the growth of e-commerce in the region, the duo decided to strike while the iron was hot and launch an online shopping community, which quickly gained popularity.
Racking up 10,000 registered members, and 90,000 likes on Facebook, Harir currently ships to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, with plans to open links to the UAE and other GCC countries in the pipeline.
But as it is for most start-ups, the issue of finance was an early hurdle for Harir, prompting the founders to explore novel ways to raise money.
Ayoubi says: “We stated to talk to Eureeca about raising funds, and the fact that it’s one of the main challenges in this part of the world. We saw that crowdinvesting offers a solution to this – it’s a very strong alternative to traditional fund raising.
“They came to Jordan to see us, and it was a very good fit for us. It’s a structured platform which helps us approach investor networks, and investors outside networks.
“We did a lot of prep work before we actually launched on Eureeca. We spoke to friends and family about Harir a year in advance and we tapped into our networks, basically giving them a heads up that we were going to be on the website. We tried to give them as much information as we could so that they could make an educated decision.
“We launched and then followed up with our networks – we needed validation from our own people who knew us before other investors came on board.”
The rapid acquisition of its targeted funds does not mean that Harir is ready to withdraw from Eureeca quite yet, and is still seeking more investment, with money going towards building the company’s customer base, providing working capital, and hiring new members to the team.
And on the back of the company’s success, Ayoubi says he would like to see more start-ups and investors using platforms such as Eureeca.
“It’s a fantastic solution for SMEs in general,” he says. “I would really love to see more companies going online, reaching their targets, and closing.
“Funding is one of the top things on most people’s minds. The ecosystem is still developing for tech start-ups in this part of the world, but with a bit of momentum I think more and more people will see it as a great opportunity.
“There are a lot of investors who see start-ups as being too small to get involved with. Crowdinvesting bridges the gap between that and not having any investors at all. It helps you establish your company and allows you to grow so that other venture capitalists and angel investors will become interested.
“It can also be something great for investors. The regional retail market is worth $425bn, and e-commerce is expected to be $15bn by 2015, so it’s a great opportunity for potential investors.”
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