Jordan-Based Home Design Startup Darpedia Raises Angel Investment
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Darpedia, a platform connecting homeowners with interior design professionals, has raised US$200,000 from two undisclosed regional angel investors. Launched just six weeks prior to this fundraise, the Jordan-based startup is focused on bringing the region’s talented design professionals online, and also wants to fill the Arabic content gap in the region’s design world. The fundraising proceeds will be used to expand their reach and onboard more professionals in Jordan, as well as to create awareness about home design services, says the company. “We need to prove the concept first, learn from our mistakes, and then expand regionally,” says Anas Elayyan, co-founder and CEO, Darpedia, explaining their path ahead.
Elayyan, a techie, and his two other co-founders (who are architects), started Darpedia -a platform for homeowners to “browse for inspirational designs, and connect with local professionals and suppliers-” after struggling to find any options beyond the conventional, while setting up his own apartment. In just over six weeks of launch so far, Darpedia has already attracted 70 professionals at the time of writing, onboarding new ones almost on a daily basis. “We are currently working on an automated dashboard for the professionals to track their calls and messages. Most of our traffic currently is organic, but we have some big marketing plans starting that will be executed very soon,” says Elayyan.
The entrepreneur counts two key challenges in the way the current design industry operates: the financial burden of operating an offline outlet, and a fragmented market of creatives and design talent, and says Darpedia can solve both of these. As for the homeowners and others seeking such services, the entrepreneur wants you to think of the platform as an encyclopedia for your home design needs (“Dar” in Arabic means Home, and hence “Darpedia”), and wants to ease the process for you to get acquainted with inspiring designs, and connect with professionals easily from the comfort of your homes. Currently operating in Jordan, the startup hopes to soon expand to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Though angel investment is largely the most suitable mode for startups in the early-stage, Elayyan believes that despite an increasingly conducive funding environment, raising angel investment in the Middle East is not at all easy. “The main problem that we faced was that we were just launching, so technically the startup itself didn’t have a proper track record. The first investor simply liked the concept and believed in the team. The second investor actually transferred the money after he saw the performance, and how many professionals the team onboarded in the first few days,” he says. “At the end of the day as you raise your first angel investment round, you are just walking with a prototype and a presentation. You need to sell the vision, you need to show the investors how committed you are, and you need to showcase what you achieved early on.” Coming from someone who managed to walk the talk, it should be useful for the region's aspiring entrepreneurs to apply these insights in their fundraising efforts.
'TREP TALK ME
Anas Elayyan, co-founder and CEO, Darpedia
Based on your current experience in raising funds in the MENA region, what would be your three top tips for the region's startups to pitch to investors in the early-stage?
“First of all, you need to show commitment. The investors are risking their money with you, and they need to see that you are taking this risk seriously. They are partnering with you in your endeavor not the other way around. You need to show that you are taking the risk of proving how your new business will work. [Second], to increase your chances of a successful fundraising, you need a prototype, even if it was a simple one, people don’t visualize ideas easily, so you need to explain your product or what you are trying to solve with a prototype. [Third], I believe you always need the right co-founder on your side. Unless you have a death wish of passing away young because of the stress, you need to distribute the workload. No plan will go as smoothly as you expect, and problems and random stuff will pop up on daily basis, you need someone next to you that understands the business as good as you do so you can both execute and grow as quickly as possible. Plus, investors will feel more comfortable in investing in the right team rather than a solo founder.”