MENA Startups Getting Funded: TaskSpotting Shares Its Story

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Despite the dry and dreary outlook often attributed to funding startups in the MENA startup ecosystem, TaskSpotting made headlines recently when it secured a substantial investment into growing its business. This MENA app, which crowdsources market research, announced in early October that it had closed its Series A funding round with an investment of US$1.2 million led by MENA Venture Investments (MVI) and a Saudi corporate that hasn’t been named.

TaskSpotting founders (from left to right): Head of Operations Walid Sherif, CEO Karim Aly and Head of Business Development Dirk Stevens.

Co-founder Karim Aly, who had bootstrapped the company to its launch at ArabNet’s Digital Summit in 2014, claims to have a well-aligned, mutually beneficial relationship with MVI, with the focus being on more than just the money. “As a startup, there’s no denying that the money is very valuable, but if your story is compelling enough, you’ll find that there are a lot of people out there willing to write a check,” he says. “The thing is, there’s so much more that a startup needs in terms of adding value beyond money. We were particular about finding a group of investors that ticked all the conventional boxes, but that we also had great chemistry with. We wanted to find partners who genuinely shared our vision and were committed to helping us build a great company- and we were fortunate to find them.”

Image credit: TaskSpotting.

The Process

“The whole process was unusually fast by regional standards- it took us about three months from initial discussions to closing,” Aly says. “What really helped close this quickly was that we had got to know our investors ahead of any fundraising efforts. This meant that we had already built the trust and rapport with one another to allow the formalities of closing the transaction to be very streamlined.”

What Happens Next

At the moment, Aly says that TaskSpotting is focused on growing the business, and delivering on the plans they have put in place for the same. “Right now, it’s all about scale for us,” he says. “We are building out the team, and expanding into new markets. Naturally, with rapid scale also comes a need to manage it with more efficient and robust infrastructure, so technology is another major area we will be investing in.”

Tips For MENA Startups When Pitching To Investors

By TaskSpotting co-founder and CEO Karim Aly

Karim Aly, co-founder and CEO, TaskSpotting. Image credit: TaskSpotting.

1. Tell a story. “People (even investors) are hardwired to listen to stories. They can powerfully grab and hold someone’s attention far better than any other delivery. Use it to your advantage.”

2. Keep it incredibly simple. “Until a six-year-old (literally) can comprehend the fundamentals of your business model, then you’re not ready to share it with anyone outside your team yet.”

3. Slides are the prop, not the narrative. “A slide should have less than 10 words on it, use big fonts and include great visuals. Don’t rely on the slides to tell the story, otherwise there’s no point for you to be in the room!”

4. Build trust. “Stress your strengths, acknowledge your gaps and tell them how you plan to fill them before they ask you. This will take you much further than pretending that they don’t exist or waiting for someone else to bring them up.”