Arabic Book Retail Platform Jamalon Raises Over US$10 Million In Its Ongoing Series B Round
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Jamalon, a Jordan-born Arabic publishing platform, has raised over US$10 million in the first leg of its Series B funding round. The latest capital infusion comes from leading investor Wamda Capital, followed by Aramex, and new investments from Anova Investments, 500 Falcons and Endeavor Catalyst, among others. Delta Partners, a TMT investment firm, acted as the financial advisor on the transaction.
Founded in 2010 by founder and CEO Ala’ Alsallal, the online bookstore was launched with the mission to provide readers in the region with literary content in the Arabic language, as well as empower MENA’s publishers, SMEs and authors. Currently, Jamalon offers 10 million publications in both Arabic and English, and partners with more than 3,000 Arabic and 27,000 English language publishers. With offices in Amman, Dubai and Riyadh, Jamalon has fulfillment centers in Amman, Beirut, Dubai, London and Riyadh. According to its release, Jamalon’s revenues has grown sevenfold since 2013, with 15% of its titles sold outside the Middle East. Jamalon also launched its Publish-on-Demand (POD) service in 2016 to enable publishers to bring their out-of-stock titles back in-stock, allowing publishers to produce books on demand, while also enabling new authors to test the market. The feature also provides an avenue for global publishers to offer their books to the MENA market without having to ship them from Europe or US, making a wider selection of books available in the MENA.
The new round of funds will be used to “increase the reach of Arabic books across the globe,” and scale its POD service. And with the new capital acquired and investors as new partners, Alsallal is optimistic on the opportunities it presents. “In our Series B, Aramex remains the leading logistics arm in Middle East, and Wamda [Capital] has led both our Series A and B," he says. "Our new investors are going to add strategic value for Jamalon: Anova Investments from Saudi will empower us to localize Jamalon in Saudi Arabia, Endeavor Catalyst and 500 Falcons will open up doors and opportunities for us in Silicon Valley... Our ability to service consumers globally via Jamalon’s five distribution hubs will grow even further, thanks to our data-driven approach that caters to our customers’ needs.”
Fadi Ghandour, Executive Chairman of Wamda Capital, comments on how the firm is keen on supporting Jamalon’s growth, commending the platform’s POD feature: “The POD solution is an example of how the industry is evolving and Jamalon is primed to capitalize on this shift and further scale its business.” Nouf Aljreiwi, Executive Director at Anova Investments, notes Jamalon’s concept and founding principles as the platform’s driver for growth: “Our investment will help them grow even further and cement their leading position in the Saudi Arabian market. This is only the tip of the iceberg, Jamalon will continue to realize exponential growth over time.”
On e-commerce’s growth in the region, Alsallal says, “The future is here for specialized niche e-commerce websites such as Jamalon. It’s time for niche e-commerce play. More people are moving from offline to online shopping everyday.” With the aim of further disrupting the MENA publishing sector, the investment is an indication to the steady demand for investors within the Arabic content and e-commerce scene- as well as for the public’s interest in real books, Alsallal notes: “Readers still want to turn those crisp, bound pages!”
‘TREP TALK ME
Ala’ Alsallal, founder and CEO, Jamalon
What’s your advice to startups pitching to investors for investment?
- Focus on your biggest market, it does not only attract customers, but it also attracts investors.
- Start fundraising six months at least before you run out of cash. You need to have enough runway- while fundraising in the Middle East is not like Silicon Valley, it takes at least six months here to close a round of funding.
- It is easier and better to attract strategic investors than attracting financial investors.
- Not all investors who indicate interest are genuinely interested. Some are just being courteous and polite.
- Don’t chase the big names. When your profile is right for them, they will come after you.