Dubai: A Riyadh-based startup Opontia has raised $20 million in seed funding, one of the biggest such to date in the Middle East and Africa. The seed round was led by Raed Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Presight Capital, and Kingsway Capital.
Launched in March last, Opontia’s business plan is to acquire e-commerce brands. It was founded by Philip Johnston and Manfred Meyer. The company has already recruited a team with experience from Amazon, Noon, McKinsey, Uber-Eats and Namshi.
“We founded Opontia to enable e-commerce entrepreneurs to realise the potential of their brands, both in terms of getting an exit now, as well as benefiting from future growth,” said Philip Johnston CEO. “We saw that many sellers had started their brand because they were passionate about their product and their customers but had hit a ceiling in terms of how far they could grow due to constraints on working capital, operations, logistics, and e-commerce commercial management.
“This is where Opontia comes in. We enable entrepreneurs to sell their brand and we take care of the daily operations while encouraging them to be involved in the part they enjoy - building the brand. Many sellers tell us that this frees up time to enable them to start their next venture or take a hard earned break.”
The company has offices in Dubai as well, and plans to set up in Istanbul, Cairo and Lagos. "The business model will work here because there have been so many amazing entrepreneurs in the Middle East coming up over the last few years," said Meyer. "It’s a great opportunity for sellers to be able to realise some of the hard work from building their brand so they can take some time off or work on their next big thing.”
The market in the Middle East and Africa region is currently less mature than in the West but is growing much faster than any other market in the world, with the number of entrepreneurs selling on marketplaces growing at over 50% per year