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Saudi Arabia's Vision Ventures Is Envisioning the Future of MENA Startups With Its Investment Approach Since its establishment in 2016 in Dammam, Vision Ventures has invested in 47 companies, 20 of which are Saudi-based.

By Erika Masako Welch

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Vision Ventures
Vision Ventures' Haitham BuAisha and Kais Al Essa.

Vision Ventures (VV) is a venture capital firm created by a group of entrepreneurs with the goal of supporting other founders. VV invests in early stage tech startups during the seed and Series A funding rounds, with a particular interest in the cloud, software-as-a-service, cybersecurity, and fintech sectors.

Since its establishment in 2016 in Dammam, Vision Ventures has invested in 47 companies, 20 of which are Saudi-based. The firm has seen three successful exits thus far, including MENABytes, POSRocket, and MUNCH:ON.

VV's parent company, Sahara Net, which was heavily reliant on internet services, prompted and inspired the creation of Vision Ventures, in order to diversify its business operations. In 2018, VV transitioned from a corporate venture capital (CVC) structure to a standard general partner/limited partner structure to become an independent, privately run venture capital firm.

Kais Al Essa, Founding Partner and CEO of Vision Ventures. Image courtesy Vision Ventures.

Kais Al Essa, Founding Partner and CEO of Vision Ventures, says, "We saw gaps in the market where we knew innovation was one way to bridge them fast; therefore myself and my partner Haitham BuAisha launched Vision Ventures to invest in these technology startups."

Vision Ventures has inked over 86 deals and created a diverse portfolio of 44 startups over the years, over half of which have been invested in across the past 24 months. "Our investment thesis has changed a lot since the preliminary years, especially in terms of geographic focus, as we now focus mainly on the MENA region," explains Al Essa. "We find that early-stage startups find our experience in the region and advice very valuable to them, often proving crucial to their success and growth. This is also why we've focused more on early-stage startups in the pre-seed to Series A stages."

Haitham BuAisha, co-founder and Investment Manager of Vision Ventures, Image courtesy Vision Ventures.

Al Essa also comments on how far the Saudi ecosystem has come in such a short period of time. "Back in 2016, it was really difficult to find an experienced founding team starting an innovative technology startup that we could get excited about, and that could shake up an industry. Today, the interest we have in Saudi companies are a direct result of the level of maturity we see in founders as well as the level of market readiness of the overall ecosystem." Al Essa adds, "The success we've seen over the past few years with Salla, The Chefz, Gathern, Calo, Tamara, Foodics, Haseel, and many others is something we are very proud of. And we're sure there are a lot more success stories being written today!"

Learn more about the most prominent venture capitalists in Saudi Arabia's startup ecosystem by checking out the report, The Evolution of Saudi Arabia's Startup Ecosystem 2010-2022.

This article was originally published on Lucidity Insights, a partner of Entrepreneur Middle East in developing special reports on the Middle East and Africa's tech and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Erika Masako Welch

Chief Content Officer, Lucidity Insights

Erika Masako Welch is the Chief Content Officer of Lucidity Insights.
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