We Got Funded: Egypt-Based Elmenus Raises US$10 Million In A Pre-Series C Round
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Elmenus, an Egyptian food discovery and ordering platform, has secured US$10 million in a new funding round from MENA- and North America-based investors.
With its new strategy to take minority stakes in fast-growing, Egyptian technology businesses, Fawry Group, a digital transformation and e-payment platform, was the lead investor in this round raised by Elmenus. Other investors include Marakez, an Egyptian real estate developer, and New York-based hedge fund Luxor Capital Group, for whom this is the first investment in the MENA region.
Having attracted more than 1.5 million monthly users since launching in 2018, Elmenus aims to personalize food recommendations at a dish level. Previously, the startup raised $1.5 million in a Series A round, and $8 million in a Series B round.
Amir Allam, CEO of elmenus, says that his team’s successful closure of its previous funding rounds demonstrates the investors’ strong belief in the startup's position in the Egyptian market. "More than ever, investors want sustainable startups,” Allam says. "You must show how important you consider profitability to be. You must not be perceived as a cash burning startup, pursuing growth at all costs.”
By the end of 2021, elmenus expects to empower 12,000 restaurants across 20 Egyptian cities with new data and tool offerings to help them scale their businesses. Its digital solutions are also expected to drive its existing database of several million users to switch to online ordering.
According to Allam, as the MENA region catches up with the pace of innovation in more developed markets, it also offers an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to reimagine long-standing industries. "We are able to create solutions and products that are better suited to local markets, because more global companies can’t easily adapt to that,” he notes. “We have seen this happen in our own industry in Egypt, and I believe it really is an advantage. Therefore, we can see a version of our future by looking at more developed markets, but we need to digest this and make educated decisions in order to draw a different path that works best for us here.”
When it comes to securing funds, Allam advises MENA entrepreneurs to not limit themselves to only investors present in the region. "Look for investors who will support you strategically and open up new networks,” he says. "The region might be short on founders who have ‘been there and done that,’ and taken their startups to huge exits. However, elmenus has been fortunate to get individuals on board who are more hands-on and looking to grow their experience with founders/startups in markets such as ours. So, keep your eyes open for industry leaders, who can provide different kinds of support and insight.”
And this remains the theme of his response when asked to shares his advice for entrepreneurs in the region. "Always stay true to your initial motives and trust your instinct,” Allam says. "Approach everything with a curious mindset and a learning opportunity, and enjoy the ride. Those are simple tips, but so many people get trapped in dogma, especially as they grow.”