Egypt And Saudi Arabia-Centric Online Real Estate Marketplace Aqarmap Raises Funds In Series A Round
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Aqarmap, an Egypt- and Saudi Arabia-centric online real estate marketplace has raised an undisclosed amount of funds in a Series A round from a group of investors which include UAE-based Wamda Capital, Kuwait-based KISP Ventures, and Saudi Arabia’s Raed Ventures. With the funds, the startup aims to focus its efforts on refining their services in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as well as on entering other markets.
“In 2003, I started goyemen.com in Yemen [as] a leading generalist classifieds portal,” says Amad Almsaodi, founder and CEO, Aqarmap. “I was 18 years old back then, and as I saw the portal grow, I decided to go after bigger markets, and I also decided to specialize in the real estate industry, due to the high value of the assets that get sold in this segment.” That’s when Almsaodi decided to quit his corporate job in the US (as a project manager for the ecommerce division at Boeing Aerospace), and proceeded to move to Egypt. Aqarmap’s platform today allows you to search for properties to rent or buy, and browse the available listings by photos, price, or map. Users can find apartments, villas, chalets, duplexes, buildings, land parcels, and even commercial stores and storages on the Aqarmap app, and the platform also provides other essential information to help you take decisions on the property.
While GCC countries may have been a bit slower overall in the adoption of property/real estate tech solutions, recent industry reports and anecdotal evidence suggest that property buyers and renters increasingly prefer using technology to gather information before buying a house.
Subsequently, the number of enterprises in this space has also increased. “There are several respectful competitors in the region, and we acknowledge and respect their presence while we work on strengthening our unique value proposition,” notes Almsaodi. “Aqarmap’s brand slogan is ‘Know more,’ [and] the millions of buyers who visit Aqarmap every month do not visit us just to search for properties, they visit us to gain access to knowledge and information that is exclusively available on Aqarmap, so they can take one of the most important financial decisions they will ever take in their lives. A few examples of the value add information that Aqarmap offers includes automated valuation tool, price guides, neighborhood goods, ask the neighbors service, and more.”
A Wamda article quoted Fadi Ghandour, Managing Partner, Wamda Capital, as saying the investment company’s backing of Aqarmap is to help redefine the way in which real estate is sold in Egypt. “We believe that that the team at Aqarmap has been exceptional in solidifying their position in the market, and driving value to both consumers and real estate developers,” Ghandour says. “We are excited to become part of the Aqarmap story, and partner with Amad to help drive the business forward.” Almsaodi adds, “Online classifieds is a very hot industry that has an appeal to regional and global investors. We have been always approached by investors in the past, and we still got approached by investors even after we closed this round. We also do reach out to investors that we think can add value.” In terms of the region’s support for startups, Almsaodi believes there has been a definite change for the better for entrepreneurs in the Middle East. “The fundraising ecosystem has evolved drastically compared to when we started,” he says. “There is plenty of early stage and seed funds, and although it’s still hard to raise, it’s getting better and better. I think we need to have more funds, but we also need to have much more better startups.”
Aqarmap founder and CEO Amad Almsaodi’s tips for MENA entrepreneurs
1. Get your basics right
“Bootstrap, build a strong team, and an amazing product.”
2. Aim to generate revenue, and not just to raise funds
“Approach investors from day one, but never rely on the expected investment. Keep hustling, and learn how to generate revenue from day one.”
3. Be smart about fundraising
“Always work on multiple deals in the same time. Don’t work with investors in a serial manner; make sure you work with them concurrently- this increases competition between them, increases your chances of closing, and if someone pulls out, you don’t have to restart the process. It’s a delicate process, but it’s a critical one.”