Fetchr closes region’s largest ever Series B funding

The latest investment of $41 million follows the record-setting Series A closed in 2015

Gulf News

DUBAI: Fetchr, the Dubai-based technology start-up, has secured $41 million (Dh150.5 million) in what is the region’s largest ever Series B round, according to the company’s co-founder and chief executive.

Speaking on the phone with Gulf News, Idriss Al Rifai confirmed that the company had closed the record amount from a group of well known investors, including Majid Al Futtaim and New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

A funding round refers to the money a start-up raises from venture capitalists to finance its growth and the class of shares sold to investors. The progression of rounds is often viewed as an indication of a company’s progress.

“We want to be a billion dollar company, if not at the next round then later,” Al Rifai said, declining to state what this latest investment valued Fetchr at.

To get there, he said, would require “a lot of hard work, and a lot of luck. We’re aiming for that, we’re recruiting for that, we’re pushing for that, and this is our vision.”

On how he and fellow co-founder Joy Ajlouny had decided how to include in the round, Al Rifai said the company’s philosophy remained unchanged from their Series A.

“We wanted the best of the valley, and the best from this region’s retail,” Al Rifai said, adding: “Also, we wanted investors who were prepared to roll up their sleeves.”

According to Al Rifai, Majid Al Futtaim and New Enterprise Associates (NEA) together make up over 50 per cent of the total amount.

Founded in 2012, Fetchr is a logistics company aimed at tackling the issue of physical addresses, a big challenge for eCommerce companies in developing countries.

This is done through GPS tracking on the customer’s phone, increasing both the accuracy and speed of delivery. Both founders have stated in the past that their success is linked to the rise of eCommerce in the region, which with the recent sale of Souq.com to Amazon, seems to be at an all time high.

Regarding how he and Ajlouny intended to put this fresh investment to work, Al Rifai said Fetchr had two key objectives.

“We needed money to beef up the tech team – we’re currently recruiting from the US, the UK, and Australia,” he said.

The company is also planning to continue its geographical expansion.

“We plan to enter Oman and Jordan in the next few months, and we intend to expand to two more sizeable countries by the end of the year,” Al Rifai added.

Gulf News reported in January that Fetchr was intending to close its Series B by the end of the first quarter.

Al Rifai said on the call that this was delayed by a month to accommodate the entry of Swicorp, who the team “loved.”

Considered one of the country’s most promising young start-ups, in June 2015 Fetchr received the largest ever Series A funding in the Middle East, at $11 million.

Between December 2016 and April 2017, Fetchr doubled its revenues, according to Al Rifai.

The US-headquartered NEA has previously invested in start-ups like Uber, Snap, and Groupon, earning it a reputation as one of Silicon Valley’s best funds.

“Fetchr has demonstrated impressive growth since our initial investment in 2015,” said Scott Sandell, Managing General Partner at NEA.

“They’re revolutionising global e-commerce by enabling delivery access via mobile (in contrast to the traditional requirement of a physical address). We’re thrilled to continue partnering with the team as they further expand their reach among the two billion customers in emerging markets worldwide,” he added.

For Ajlouny, there is also a higher purpose: Gender equality.

“I am excited that Fetchr is the first company in the Middle East to employ women couriers in Dubai, and an all women call centre team in Saudi Arabia. It is my passion to create gender equality and more jobs that empower women to break out of traditional roles,” she concluded.

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