If you are a seed-stage or early-stage startup seeking initial investment to build your product, then there’s a new regional VC fund that you can approach! Starting off as a corporate initiative to develop a culture of innovation in the region in 2013, the DP World-backed startup accelerator TURN8 has now launched a US$60 million venture capital fund. According to a statement by TURN8, with the creation of TURN8 Innovation Fund I, the accelerator is now the “largest provider of seed capital in the region.”
The fund, which is meant for both seed funding and follow-on funding, was set up as TURN8 noticed a funding gap for startups, to grow from accelerator stage into established businesses. Commenting on the fund’s target investments, Kamal Hassan, General Partner, TURN8, says that the fund targets pre-seed and seed level startups. He defines pre-seed companies as those with MVPs, “demonstrating the ability to go to market,” and that have not raised prior investments. For seed investments, TURN8 will consider ventures with some amount of existing traction, “a good client-base,” and seeking growth investments. With respect to TURN8’s target sectors, Hassan counts fintech, mobile cloud, edtech, and enterprise cloud solutions as being its current focus, based on the Fund’s strategy for the MENA region.
Established jointly by global trade enabler DP World and Innovation360, TURN8 has supported 60+ startups till date with investment, mentorship, and other support. Some of the notable startups that have grown their business with TURN8 support include Bridg, LoadME, Pixelbug, Finerd, and others. TURN8 invests and mentors startups working on technological innovations across sectors, and its portfolio companies have raised over $6million in co-investment from global investors.
Q&A: Kamal Hassan, General Manager, TURN8
What will be your top criteria to evaluate startups for accelerator program and funding at TURN8?
“As [with] any other investor, the number one criteria we look at is the team- the entrepreneurs themselves, and their subject matter experience in their sector, and their ability to execute the plan. Additionally, we also look for technology-based startups that have the ability to change the industry’s landscape with either a transformational or disruptive change. And lastly, we look for business models that are creative in nature, and [have the] ability to address big markets.”
What is TURN8’s strategy regarding number of startups that will be invested in as a part of this fund? What stages of investment would this be in?
“In the initial years we will invest in 20-30 startups every year, and slowly increase in the future. The new fund will have a dual investment strategy; funding for pre-seed and accelerator level startups, and seed and Series A co-investment for growth startups with other angels and venture capital firms. Last year, we received more than 800 opportunities and made 20 new pre-seed investments. This year, we are expecting 1,200 opportunities and [will] make another 20 pre-seed and 5-10 seed/series A investments.”