Stephen Chandler (Notion Capital): The qualities that we’re looking for in teams are some real ambition and a desire to change the world.
30 Nov, 2020
Walid Mansour is Partner and Chief Investment Officer at Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP). He has more than 15 years of experience in Venture Capital, strategy, corporate finance and engineering within the digital, telecom, software and new media industries. Prior to joining MEVP in 2010, Walid was a lead associate at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants and before that he worked as a strategy manager at the UAE’s Prime Ministry Executive Office focusing on public policy initiatives.
Ten years ago we entered this business because we saw a need for SMEs and startups in fundings. We saw VC as a way to close this equity gap. Also we saw an opportunity in technology. Ten years ago the opportunities in Mobile Tech, Internet, Software businesses started to be an existing business opportunities, so we decided to invest in it. But we only do business in Middle East region and don’t invest outside it. Our main office is in Dubai.
We are looking for startups on Series A or Series B stage with very teams, that have good product/market fit, so we can measure the growth of the product where it operates and share of the market; user/unit economics or user economics. And, the most important, how big is the investment market.
Consumer Internet and Software as a Service.
We prefer to enter at Series A and Series B.
They have to have good product/market fit. They have to prove to us that their growth is healthy, that they have good unit economics. They have to prove to us that they go after a big market that needs digital disruption, technology disruption. And they have to be able to explain why they are the best people and the best company to achieve this disruption.
We are not into an unusual business, because we invest in Internet and Software companies. They usually copy each other, even clone each other. There is nothing unusual or highly innovative in the ideas of the companies, just products and teams that do these products better and grow faster. So, they just need to score high as a team, have good product/market fit and be disruptive, nothing else. Mostly they disrupt offline businesses.
We are looking for experienced teams able to build and scale companies, able to articulate what they are doing precisely, make plans, and able to build products with disruptive features.
Each year we review about 1,000 projects and invest in 5, maybe 6 projects a year.
The startups either come through our network, because we’ve already invested in a lot of companies. Sometimes they could find us at conferences we participate. Some of them come through cold calls.
We prefer to follow a company for a few months before we invest. It depends, it takes some time to understand if the company is ok, it takes time to close the deal, everything takes time.
If it is Series A investment, it is between 1m and 3m, Series B investment is somewhere between 3m and 7-8m.
You know, every time we have very high expectation, at least x7 or x10 on initial investment.
Pretty much everything I mention in catching my attention list, but reverse. If there is no good team, no good product/market fit, no good unit economics, no big market, no good truction – we won’t invest.
I never think about this staff, because you cannot read the future. And, if you already invested, you shouldn’t regret it either, because you’ve made this decision based on a data you had at a certain point of time. Data changes, conditions change too. You always hope to make your best at the game.
I guess, it is Health, Biotech, Genom/DNA, all these new sciences. I’m not an expert in these areas, so I won’t invest in it. But I think these are the industries of the future.
It never happens just because there must be teams able to produce the product, not me participating in the production. I can’t force people to work together – people who don’t have the same DNA and the same network. It is never about the product, but about the teams.
Once. We did it one time. We don’t usually invest in one-person startups, but we can ask a solo founder to find a co-founder and build a team.
I think, everyone should read Lean Startup methodology books, this is my advise.
There is a lot happened in the last one hundred years. But talking about the internet business, the companies that organised it had the most impact. It is Google as the search engine was able to do it. The second generation of important companies is social networks. Companies like Facebook were able to organize people. Now, in today’s world, when we look at cloud platforms, like Amazon, you see that they were able to organize businesses. So those are my three picks: Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Yes, I like what I’m doing now.
I think it is some combination of chess and checkers. I don’t think that the most important part is whether or not the winner takes it all, rather in terms of market share.
Yes, and only online.