CAIRO: With Saudi Arabia as a cornerstone for its regional expansion, Singapore-based venture capital firm Antler is broadening its horizons into the Middle East North Africa and Pakistan region with the launch of $60 million fund.
Entering the region with a Riyadh cohort that is set to debut in September 2023, Antler is currently sifting through thousands of applications to pick around 60 founders to guid them from a nascent stage to a scalable business model.
Under the leadership of Jonathan Doerr and Romain Assuncao, the firm’s core strategy is to reinforce the regional entrepreneurial framework by offering support such as co-founder matchmaking, specialized coaching, and an expansive network of global founders and advisors.
With a track record of supporting over 6,000 founders worldwide, Antler has garnered a reputation as a formidable early-stage investor.
Upon program completion, Antler commits a $180,000 investment in exchange for an 11 percent equity stake in standout ventures, a decision based on rigorous interaction over the 3-month duration.
The firm’s prowess extends to offering post-launch expansion support and potential subsequent investments, with partnerships including venture capital giants Andreessen Horowitz and Northzone.
“As an entrepreneur that has exited 3 companies and built businesses in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, I would have highly valued a program like Antler that not only puts me in a room of high-caliber potential co-founders but also supports me tangibly on my first steps and introduces me to relevant people within the ecosystem,” Doerr said.
One of Antler’s success stories, Airalo, has expanded its reach to the MENAP region after initial incubation in Singapore. This eSIM provider recently secured a hefty $60 million in funding from worldwide investors.
With a future-focused approach, Antler envisions fostering economic growth, innovation, and resilience in the MENAP region, aligning with strategic blueprints like Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and Dubai Economic Agenda 2033 Vision.
PIF and stc’s iot squared fully acquires Saudi Arabia’s Machinestalk
In recognition of a robust startup landscape, Saudi Arabia recently witnessed a major acquisition in the digital transformation space.
Highlighting this trend, iot squared, a joint venture between the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund and stc Group, has finalized a binding agreement to acquire Machinestalk, a frontrunner in the Saudi internet of things sector.
Established in 2022, iot squared specializes in smart solutions for industries such as manufacturing, logistics, and urban development, aiming to centralize IoT solutions.
Iot squared aims to utilize the acquisition to solidify its market presence in Saudi Arabia while further enriching its expertise within the IoT sector.
“We are pleased to announce signing a binding agreement to acquire 100 percent of Machinestalk, which steers to an exciting new chapter in our growth story,” Othman Al-Dahash, CEO of iot squared said.
“As we continue to strengthen our position as the national IoT champion, in line with our BOLD strategy, we are eager to play a pivotal role in supporting Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to lead the region’s digital transformation and adoption of emerging technologies,” Al-Dahash added.
With a focus on customer needs, iot squared’s strategy promotes regional expansion, introducing added market value.
Additionally, Machinestalk’s proficiency in smart city development, Industry 4.0, and innovative mobility and logistics aligns seamlessly with iot squared’s vision of making Saudi Arabia a regional IoT epicenter.
Reiterating the company’s commitment, Al-Dahash stated, “By fully realizing the potential of IoT and unlocking the value of connected things, we are committed to enabling a ‘connected Kingdom’ and turning the knowledge-based economy from a concept into reality,"
Machinestalk, established in 2015, boasts a vast portfolio, serving over 2,000 clients across both public and private sectors.
UAE AI firm closes its first round of funding
UAE’s Lumi AI, an artificial intelligence startup, closed its first funding round from New York-based Forum Ventures and Emirati Annex Investments. The amount remains undisclosed.
Founded in April 2023, Lumi AI focuses on democratizing access to data, insights, and predictive analytics, targeting businesses with physical supply chains.
With the secured funding, Lumi AI aims to expedite its next development phase, enhancing its platform and expanding its go-to-market team in preparation for a comprehensive platform launch in the fall.
Since its inception, Lumi AI has already showcased its value proposition. The startup successfully launched a beta product, secured five UAE-based clients, and helped a user identify a $1.5 million inventory discrepancy, as per the press release.
“Lumi AI is born out of an understanding that SQL and Python skills should not be a barrier to data-driven decision making. We’ve engineered Lumi to seamlessly convert plain language into invaluable business insights, democratizing access to data and enabling a future where everyone can make informed, strategic decisions,” Ibrahim Ashqar, CEO of Lumi AI, stated.
Lumi AI's core technology comprises proprietary algorithms and workflows capable of understanding enterprise operational systems and transforming vague user prompts into high-quality, AI-friendly instructions.
“There is a lack of data talent resulting in data backlogs that slow the speed of great decision making. Lumi helps teams get the data they need instantaneously,” Maia Benson, Managing Director at Forum Ventures, commented.
Peleset Angels launched an investment network to support Palestinian startups
A network of Palestinian and regional angel investors have come together to launch Peleset Angels, an early-stage angel investment network to support the country’s startup ecosystem.
Peleset Angels aims to fill the critical funding gap in Palestine and empower founders by providing them with pre-seed investments and guiding them to build their minimum viable products.
One of Peleset Angels’ key initiatives lies in its commitment to supporting female founders, promoting inclusivity and diversity within the Palestinian entrepreneurial landscape.