By Neil King
Founders Paul Kenny and Arya Bolurfrushan to invest in high-impact Middle East tech start-ups
A duo of Dubai-based investors have launched a new venture capital firm focused on high-impact tech start-ups.
Paul Kenny and Arya Bolurfrushan founded Emerge Ventures, which will concentrate on early-stage investments in the region’s technology companies, based on their conviction that the sector has high-growth potential.
Emerge Ventures aims to give international and regional investors access to the budding tech start-up market, with a leaning towards infrastructural e-commerce.
The firm has also announced the close of its first investment fund MENA Fund I, which has committed capital, expertise and guidance from Emerge Ventures advisors to early-stage start-ups, in return for equity in their business.
The company has also revealed that it has made its first three investments, all within the UAE. These include The Impact Hub – a collaborative incubator and co-working space to open in Souk al Bahar, Dubai; Lumba – a Silicon Valley based mobile gaming company focused on the Arabic-speaking world; and Elevision – a new digital media network that broadcasts news, information and advertisements from screens inside the lifts of premier towers in the UAE.
Kenny is founder of CEO of e-commerce website Cobone, and travel website Triperna, while Harvard-educated Bolurfrushan is an international angel investor with a track record of 24 investments and three successful exits. He is also CEO of Bolurfrushan International Group, and CFO of RAK Petroleum.
Kenny said: “Our focus is to find the best entrepreneurs and back them with smart capital – financial as well as intellectual - becoming true partners with the entrepreneurs to help them innovate, succeed and ultimately grow their business. We have been there and done it ourselves and our experience can help any company scale fast.”
Bolurfrushan added, “We see massive growth potential in the MENA technology infrastructure space, with the UAE in particular investing heavily to develop innovation and technological readiness.
“As economies in our part of the world mature and move higher up the value chain towards the highest calling of man innovation - we are honoured to be a vehicle bringing the smartest global capital to serve as a catalyst in this transformation.
“We are pleased that such illustrious investors have entrusted us with their capital. We in turn will strive to add genuine value to the entrepreneurs we back and provide stellar returns for our investors.”
The fund’s advisors include Harvard Business School Professors; the global CEO of Rocket Internet and a number of other veteran investors, entrepreneurs and advisors.
This is an excellent idea. I would hope that more VC/PE will focus on Arabic speaking countries.