"We Got Funded!": UAE-Based Dukkantek Secures US$10 Million In A Pre-Series A Funding Round To Further Its Mission Of Digitally Empowering SMEs In The MENA

UAE-based online store management platform Dukkantek has raised US$10 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Dubai-based venture capital firm BECO Capital.

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UAE-based online store management platform Dukkantek has raised US$10 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Dubai-based venture capital firm BECO Capital. The round also saw the participation of California-headquartered early-stage venture capital fund Rocketship, as well as London-based early-stage technology venture fund Colle Capital, with other strategic investors in the round including Comma Capital, AMK Investment Office, Chaos Ventures, and Wamda Capital.

Ali Alsayegh, Sanad Yaghi, and Shadi Joulani, co-founders, Dukkantek

A platform that launched in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis in January 2021, Dukkantek's ultimate mission is to help traditional merchants ease into the process of building a digital presence. "Our aim was to provide smaller businesses with the opportunity to facilitate online ordering and digital payments," says Sanad Yaghi, who co-founded Dukkantek along with co-founders Shadi Joulani and Ali Alsayegh. "The types of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that we focus on were late adopters of e-commerce solutions- it wasn't until the pandemic that these merchants were even open to the idea of having a digital presence. However, once the significance and value of e-commerce was clear, it was up to us to deliver a solution that would be simple and effective."

The Dukkantek platform offers advanced in-store boxes fitted with a point-of-sale system that can be accessed online by merchants from anywhere in the world. Its cloud-hosted software also enables easy tracking of transactions, monitoring of sales, and generating of reports, amongst other offerings. "However, providing the technology is one thing; driving end consumer engagement is another," Yaghi adds. "As we continue to expand our product offerings, we have prioritized automated marketing tools and other innovative solutions to aid our merchants in utilizing e-commerce channels not just for retention but also for growth."

This round of funds marks the second round of investment this year for the platform. In March of this year, the firm had raised a seed round of $5.2 million, which played a pivotal role in catalyzing its expansion into Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Turkey. With the new infusion of capital, Yaghi and his team have two major goals in sight for Dukkantek. "The first is to continue to provide value through innovative product improvements and solutions, and the second is to realize our global ambitions and become the world's market leader for empowering SMEs in the digital world," he says.

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The Dukkantek co-founders admit to not having it easy along their fundraising journey, but they were helped in the fact that their venture had started out as an entirely bootstrapped enterprise in its pre-seed stage. "The challenges we faced in this fundraise were driven by externalities, the main externalities being the economic climate," Yaghi explains. "Conversations were dramatically different to those in our seed round, with greater focus on margin optimization strategies, rather than the growth-at-all-costs mentality that reigned for the prior years. However, due to our bootstrapped history, we were well prepared for the deep strategic questions that challenged our structure, our go-to-market strategy and our ability to sustain similar levels of growth from a larger base."

Sanad Yaghi, co-founder, Dukkantek. Source: Dukkantek

This reflects how Yaghi and his fellow co-founders look back at the initial phase of their journey- and it is a learning curve that other budding entrepreneurs may find worth gleaning from. "Bootstrapping our pre-seed period was critical to the overall success that we've had to date!" Yaghi says. "It led us to have to really prioritize our resource allocation, drive sustainable growth and be very aware of churn, among many other things. These first principal pillars meant that even in an economic downturn we were an investable business with high growth and healthy margins."

Finally, when asked what advice he would like to share with other startup founders who are looking to receive funding, Yaghi is quick to point out that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. "But the values that drive your startup's growth should be the same that drive a successful fundraiser," he adds. "What worked for us was having high levels of accountability, demanding criticism, and acknowledging/owning our flaws, and how we are going to improve on them, which is really the culture we are trying to build internally as well."

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