Across the UAE, investment is flowing to a broad range of innovative start-ups. From circular solutions to restaurant analytics, these start-ups represent new business sectors that will drive future economic growth.
The trend is in line with Ministry of Economy projections that see start-ups as potentially helping the country to double its GDP by 2031 as the nation looks to become a regional centre for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Last month, Abu Dhabi travel start-up Dharma announced it had raised $4.7 million (Dh17.26 million) in new funding. Investors included Abu Dhabi’s Shorooq Partners, New York’s FJ Labs, consumer fund Goodwater, footballer Eric Cantona, Shark Tank’s Matt Higgins and Skift founder Rafat Ali. The round was led by San Francisco-based Convivialite Ventures. In total, the start-up has raised $10 million.
“The funding round will allow us to grow our portfolio of trips, hosted by inspiring people and brands, and launch our platform which will automate the entire process of planning, launching, and operating our trips,” says Charaf El Mansouri, CEO at Dharma.
The Hub71 company recently partnered with Paramount Global to launch Paris by Emily, a travel experience based on the hit Netflix series, Emily in Paris. It is now looking to build similar experiences in verticals such as food, sports, fashion and lifestyle tourism. “We started the company because we wanted to build a travel brand that we wish existed, one that thought of and built travel around passion and passion points. Our core conviction is that the future of travel is passion-led, not geography-led,” El Mansouri said.
Meanwhile, Dubai-based Revibe is showing how opportunities lie in the refurbishment of electronics.
In July, the company announced it had raised $2.3 million in pre-seed funding to accelerate its growth, expand its operational and customer support teams, improve its marketing, and diversify into other electronics segments.
It is addressing a $6-billion refurbished consumer electronics market in the region. The round was led by French venture fund Resonance and Mena accelerator programme Flat6Labs along with more than 20 business angels, said Hamza Iraqui, Co-founder at Revibe.
“Our inspiration to start Revibe stemmed from recognition of an unaddressed market in the Middle East for refurbished electronics, especially given the success of similar models in other geographies. This ambition coalesced with our desire to have a positive environmental impact,” Iraqui said. “At its core, Revibe is driven by the principles of the circular economy. We are maximising the life cycle of electronic products, reducing waste, and promoting sustainable consumption. Instead of letting these electronics go to waste or become obsolete, we reintroduce them into the market, ensuring their full utility is realised and contributing to a more sustainable future.”
At the incubation end of the market, Growdash raised a pre-seed round of $750,000 in July from a mixture of impactful regional VCs such as Flat6Labs and Plus (+) VC; and very experienced industry angels such as Abdulhamid Alomar and Zeid Husban.
The foodtech start-up helps restaurants tap into analytics and business intelligence to create profitable growth strategies that help improve their bottom lines.
The company used its pre-seed money to build and launch a powerful custom tech stack that enables it to further its product road map, says Sean Trevaskis, Co-founder and CEO of Growdash.
“We’ve also launched in three GCC countries, the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar, working with more than 200 restaurant brands.”
Now the company is raising a seed round to further expand its commercial operations, particularly into Saudi Arabia, Trevaskis says. Alongside, it will roll out a slew of innovative features and functions to help restaurants apply data-driven decisions to build stronger profit lines.
Meanwhile, Mascotte Health recently announced the completion of its oversubscribed $1.2-million pre-seed funding round, led by Nuwa Capital, with participation from angel investors from Uber, Turo, and Airbnb.
Mascotte Health currently offers veterinary clinics tech-enabled support infrastructure solutions, including virtual triage and customer experience. The company employs licensed and registered veterinary nurses and technicians who undergo thorough training and are strategically paired with partner clinics.
“Our mission at Mascotte is to empower veterinary heroes to focus on their true passion—practising medicine and delivering the best possible medical treatment,” said Bora Hamamcioglu, Founder and CEO of Mascotte Health, in a press statement.
“As their trusted operating partner, we are dedicated to building a full-stack veterinary support infrastructure that not only improves and optimises day-to-day operations but also addresses the immense stress faced by clinical staff. With the industry’s significant employee shortage and the ever-increasing number of pets, we recognise the need to enhance health outcomes for all stakeholders involved,” he added.
And later last month, homegrown climate-tech start-up Olive Gaea secured $1 million in funding from Cornerstone Ventures.
The Dubai-based company offers consulting services spanning the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon offsetting and lifecycle analysis, as well as AI-driven technology solutions to enable companies to take climate action.
It will use the funds to launch its Zero sustainability-as-a-service platform.
“Today, businesses are under immense pressure to take immediate climate action. Shockingly, 91 per cent of them struggle to measure their greenhouse gas emissions. Even fewer can meet their carbon reduction targets,” said Vivek Tripathi, Co-founder and CEO of Olive Gaea.
“Now, with the unwavering support of Cornerstone Ventures, Olive Gaea is ready to bridge the climate action gap by automating and simplifying decarbonisation at scale.”