Venture Builder Enhance Closes Seed Round of $1.5 Million
MENA Venture Builder Seeks Rapid Expansion of Region‘s Leading Online Gifts Platform joigifts.com and Growth of Online Marketplace Portfolio
Enhance, the holding company for online marketplaces for the Middle East and Africa, has raised a seed round of USD 1.5 million with investment from iNet, 500 Startups, Shorooq Investments and leading angel investors from the Gulf, Europe and the US. Enhance wholly owns Dubai-based joi (joigifts.com), the region’s leading online gifting platform, and plans to utilize funding towards its rapid expansion to the rest of the Middle East.
Founded in late 2015, Enhance employs a unique holding company model to overcome challenges experienced by regional startups. Since its launch, Enhance has built marketing, technical, and operational capabilities in its offices in Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Cairo, and plans to use these capabilities beyond its current portfolio in subsequent vertical marketplaces.
“We have been involved in the startup ecosystem in the region from its early days as founders and angel investors and directly experienced the unique challenges of building startups in the Middle East. A Silicon Valley startup has immediate access to hundreds of millions of consumers in one market. In the Middle East, we have a fragmented market with different regulations, and fundraising remains a major challenge. Enhance is built to mitigate these challenges by being able to reuse its infrastructure, marketing, technical and funding resources across different businesses,” said Co-founder Alper Celen.
Co-founder Ritesh Tilani added, “It has been a great experience building an offline to online migration platform like joi. We now plan to use this experience to continue joi’s rapid growth and launch other vertical marketplaces that benefit from joi’s capabilities. With iNet, 500 Startups, Shorooq Investments and other prominent investors on-board, we have access to great regional and global know-how and funding which will be instrumental in the next phase of our growth.”
Abdullah Altamami, Investments Director for iNet, syndicated investment from iNet and leading Saudi angels to lead the close of the funding round. Altamami noted, “We believe in Enhance because of the experience and strong work ethic its founders bring to the table, and also because the Enhance model increases chances of success given the unique challenges in the markets it targets. During this time of inflection in our ecosystem, Enhance promises to build great businesses that will offer better digital experiences to consumers, who are increasingly moving online.”
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