Smpl AI fund
Mohammad Abu Sheikh, founder and CEO of Smpl AI fund. Image Credit: Smpl AI fund

Abu Dhabi: Smpl Holdings has launched a $10-million fund, Smpl Fund I, aimed at supporting tech and AI startups across MENA and beyond. The fund will provide seed capital and strategic value-added services.

"The UAE has positioned itself as a global hub for startups and innovation," stated Mohammad Abu Sheikh, founding Partner of Smpl. "The country's progressive policies, tax-free environment, highly developed tech and civil infrastructure, and strategic location make it an attractive destination for startups and top talent worldwide."

In 2023, the UAE attracted over $2 billion in venture capital for startups, marking significant growth over previous periods and demonstrating the strength of its knowledge-based economy in attracting quality investments.

Mohammad further emphasized, "Additionally, the UAE's workplace ethics, emphasizing respect, integrity, and social responsibility, are drawing global AI and Tech companies. These values, coupled with the country's commitment to fostering a tech-friendly ecosystem, position the UAE as a leader in AI adoption globally."

He added, "The founders of Smpl Holdings are second-generation serial entrepreneurs and experts who understand the challenges and intricacies of the startup space. Our team brings more than just financial capital to the table. Two startups already benefiting from Smpl Fund's strategic guidance and funding are Silla, a beauty and AI company, and Actualize AI, founded by former Google employees."

Actualize AI: Strategic support at a crucial stage

Actualize AI specializes in solutions for sectors such as healthcare, finance, e-commerce, manufacturing, and education. Seeking assistance from Smpl, they received crucial support in developing go-to-market strategies and navigating local nuances.

"Smpl Fund intervened at a critical juncture," said a spokesperson from Actualize. "Their strategic guidance helped refine our approach and grasp the local market dynamics better. Today, we are on a profitable trajectory thanks to Smpl Holdings."

Silla & Co: Scaling new heights

Silla & Co. has introduced a CE-marked beauty salon solution that assesses scalp health uniquely. Despite employing state-of-the-art AI marketing and sales tools, they faced challenges securing scale-up funding traditionally overlooked by VCs focused on software.

"We were at a standstill," recalled a Silla spokesperson. "However, Smpl Fund recognized our product's potential and understood our marketing edge. Their funding and strategic support have enabled significant growth, propelling us toward profitability. And the best part is, the fund is happy to invest in companies that traditional VCs won’t invest in."

"Beyond being a startup fund, Smpl Fund represents our family's commitment to the UAE's entrepreneurial ecosystem," Mohammad added. "We are in talks with major players like NVIDIA MENA and other global and regional tech leaders to secure exclusive benefits and resources for our portfolio companies. We understand that money alone isn't the sole factor for success; hence, we strive to maximize our value addition."

Zafer Younis, founder of Silicon Valley Venture and Innovation, a MENA-based VC platform, said “Smart founders look for smart money, and getting funding from a team with years of operational experience in scaling and successfully exiting technology businesses is always an advantage. The startup space is fraught with challenges, especially in the AI and Tech sector. Startups often need help with strategic guidance, resource availability, and understanding local nuances. The failure rate is high, but this is where Smpl Fund steps in. Smpl Fund aims to change the game for local tech and AI startups by providing financial support, strategic guidance, and resources, reducing the failure rate and helping them thrive in the competitive market."

Smpl Fund's proactive approach and comprehensive support aim to empower tech and AI startups in MENA, ensuring they thrive and achieve sustainable growth in today's dynamic business environment.