More than ever, quality in the service industry is essential, and the UAE-based mrUsta, an online marketplace for consumers to find and book service providers founded in 2013, has strived to accomplish this- and now, investors have taken notice.
In a pre-series A funding round, mrUsta successfully raised AED2.75 million from investors including Precinct Partners, Millennial Partners & Co., and angel investors from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This comes after the online service provider raised AED1.3 million from a seed funding round in August 2015, led by Precinct Partners Managing Partner Amjad Ahmad- who commends the team on their achievements within a short span of time. While the original seed money was used for rebranding and, as founder and CEO Ibrahim Colak says, “establishing a foothold in the market,” the team decided to seek further funding to guarantee their startup’s steady growth, as well as benefit from the expertise of their investors. “We wanted our investors to be active, and not silent partners, those that share our vision, provide insight with their business acumen, and access to their business/partner networks.”
Colak credits their growth to customer acquisitions, which received a “100% increase,” increasing from the platform’s original 2000 Ustas, to having 300 Ustas per month in the past nine months and currently 6000 Ustas as of November 2016. When they decided to seek funding, Colak says, “Our negotiations started shortly before summer, so it took a bit longer than we had had hoped due to the break. However, it was a relatively quick turnaround as everything was finalized within four months.”
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
With the newly acquired capital, the startup plans to use it for their marketing efforts, as their immediate goal is to “reach the mass in the UAE and acquire new customers,” with some of the funds set aside to financing their regional expansion, and hiring to support their marketing and sales KPIs. On the platform front, a seamless UX for both customers and service provides is still their goal, with mrUsta in Arabic in the works. Plus, Colak says Microsoft is offering them machine learning software, “which can predict time, cost and other metrics for jobs that customers would be posting.” For the service providers, or rather, “Ustas”, new features would soon be offered, including a “bespoke on-demand CRM platform based on the SaaS model.”
Ibrahim Colak, founder and CEO, mrUsta, offers his take on pitching to investors
“First, find investors in the same field as they can mentor you through your entire business process; better yet, it would be highly beneficial if they come from a technology and/or online technology background. Also, make sure that your potential investor is in for the long run and not in it to make a quick buck. It is really important that the investor is just as excited and passionate about your concept as you are and that there is a clear understanding that you will be working together as one team and one entity, and not the stereotypical ‘investor-investee’ relationship.”