We Got Funded: UAE Startup Justmop Closes Series A Funding And Gets Set For Expansion
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UAE-based on-demand home services marketplace Justmop has announced the completion of its Series A round of funding. Led by Greece-based VC fund VentureFriends, along with participation from existing and new investors like OAK Capital, the investment vehicle of Nevzat Aydin and 500 Startups, Justmop says the investment brings their total funding since launch to “more than a few million dollars.” While the size of the current investment remains undisclosed, Justmop reported annualized gross revenue of more than US$10 million and over 25% month-on-month growth in the last six months.
The startup (that entered the UAE market with a single cleaning company partner) now counts more than 60 crew members and has partnered with over 100 companies. “With this round, we want to deliver a better customer experience in our current markets, focus on expanding to 10 cities across GCC, and adding different verticals to our platform beyond cleaning services,” says Ali Cagatay Ozcan, co-founder and CEO, Justmop. “We are also in the process of enhancing our mobile applications to make them seamless and establish a higher degree of trust with the customer base. Finally, yet importantly, we are planning to expand the team with beautiful minds who will break limits, and come up with next generation innovation ideas, execute them to make people’s lives easier. It is now time to deliver the best of every service to every home in the region,” he adds.
With the startup claiming a substantial market for their offerings in the UAE, Justmop has now set its sights on opportunities in other GCC countries like KSA, Bahrain, and Kuwait, and Ozcan says they are currently involved in due diligence for other regional markets. “We are in talks with very valuable potential partners in those countries, and we are planning to expand Justmop regionally to be able to clean more homes and touch more lives,” he says. As for the marketplace startup’s origins in the UAE, Justmop co-founder Kerem Kuyucu, says it all “started with a dream” back in 2011. “Cagatay and I met back in Rocket Internet Turkey,” he remembers. “After we witnessed the company shut down in 2012 before our eyes, we took it as a sign from the universe, instead of being heartbroken. We had to do something on our own.” Driven by the founders’ own frustrations with finding a reliable house help in the UAE, they realized that the market was not transparent about pricing, availability and quality, besides the herculean efforts that went into discovering help.
He also refers to Justmop’s fundraising trajectory as one with a “funnel” perspective. “Our funnel of raising money started with locating potential investors and people, who we thought could refer us to potential investors. It continued with a lot of phone calls and emails most of which were unanswered. Next step was setting up meetings. From meetings onwards, it is all about the market size, your metrics and the team.” With a sizable market to showcase in the region, the startup says it focused on convincing investors about the strength of their execution, and whilst they succeeded in doing so, it wasn’t without faults. “Our biggest mistake at the beginning of the investment process was to exclusively talk to one VC, thinking that they would definitely invest,” Kuyucu admits. “However, we learned very fast and diversified our portfolio of investors to more than 10. We realized that they were going to take more than we anticipated, when they started asking the same questions we answered in our first meeting.”
If you are feeling frustrated about the length of the process, it’s useful to remember that fundraising is rarely quick- and it’s no different in Justmop’s case. “We were having our eighth meeting with another potential VC, when VentureFriends verbally agreed that they would lead the round,” recalls Kuyucu. “As a last note, we would like to emphasize that starting up a company from scratch is a long journey with a lot of downs and occasional ups. It is vital to have investors that inspire you and ours definitely do,” he adds. On the investors part, George Dimopoulos, Partner at VentureFriends commented in a statement, “We at VentureFriends are very happy to help Justmop to achieve its ambitious goals in becoming a significant player in the Gulf area. The Justmop team have achieved remarkable growth over the last 1.5 years and with the latest financing round on track of having a presence in around 10 cities till end of 2018, thus cementing its leading position in the market.”
On-demand businesses, both globally and in the MENA region, have a large market, which is only getting larger. According to Harvard Business Review, the on-demand economy is attracting “more than 22.4 million consumers annually and $57.6 billion in spending.” Operating in such a fiercely competitive space, Justmop counts two focus areas as its differentiators- technology and execution. “We built a flexible and scalable infrastructure for our technology that gives us a head start over any other competitor…Second, our founding team is stellar. Our investors have been part of multimillion-dollar marketplace acquisitions. Kerem and I managed three international startups in the region before starting up Justmop. Thus, we can outexecute any other company with our current team and expertise,” stresses Ozcan. Claiming close to 250,000 cleanings and 60,000 clients to their credit till date, Justmop does seem all set to “out-execute” its regional competitors. Here’s wishing them all the best!