StartUp Bahrain recently covered the launch of Plus Venture Capital (+VC), a new fund dedicated to early-stage technology startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The new fund, initially worth $60 million, has garnered much attention from the media right from the beginning given that it was founded by two veteran investors from 500 Startups – Hasan Haider, and Sharif El-Badawi.
+VC aims to serve as one of the main pillars supporting the region’s rise as a global hub for tech innovation and entrepreneurship. So, we thought it makes perfect sense to have a one-on-one session with the founders and learn more about the platform so our readers and the broader Bahraini startup ecosystem can benefit from it.
Sharif El-Badawi accepted our invite and walked us through many of the key aspects of their new venture. Here are five key takeaways from our conversation:
- Criteria for applying to +VC for funding
+VC is currently only focused on early-stage startups. It invests in seed-stage companies with follow-on capital reserved for later stages through their Series-A round. While the platform is sector-agnostic, the applicants must be a tech or tech-enabled startup.
“We look for founders who are foremost on a mission to make the world around them a better place, with the right balance of hustle, grit and resilience. At the seed stage, we strongly believe that the founders are the best indication of the future success or failure of the startup – not the market and or product.”
The applicant must have products or services that promise to solve real-world issues — something that customers are willing to adopt. +VC typically reviews a minimum of three months of traction. In terms of revenue, it should be somewhere around $5,000-$10,000, with a monthly growth rate of 20% or more.
- +VC’s role besides funding eligible startup
+VC also brings together a quite extensive global network of mentors, alongside like-minded entrepreneurs who have been through the startup journey before.
“We know the significant value that a supportive community can have on a startup’s development. We are building the strongest community of founders, mentors and investors to support each other and grow together.”
“Through our +Growth initiative, every startup we invest in will receive a level of training and guidance unique to us, helping them lay the foundations and groundwork for future growth.”
Under this initiative, all startups funded by +VC will have the option to join the +Growth program. The program will consist of lectures from seasoned mentors and business leaders, one-on-one mentorship sessions, as well as community engagement. Overall, the whole curriculum is designed to provide participants with proper training and know-how that would enable participating to accelerate their growth.
- A “differentiated thesis” of investment
+VC’s claim at launch that they will be deploying a “differentiated thesis” of investment caught StartUp Bahrain’s attention. We decided to dig deeper into it with Sharif’s help. Here’s what he had to say:
“We’re looking to be the first investment at the seed stage, after a product has launched and has shown market traction, and to lead the seed rounds we participate in. Our aim is to invest in over 100 startups per fund, and follow on heavily in the top 20% once we see the founders and startups outperform, allowing us to be partners alongside our founders for several stages in their lifecycle.”
Sharif further added that +VC is “obsessed with” building a community with promising startup founders and helping them become a part of something bigger.
- Support for female startups & investors
Sharif said one of +VC’s primary objectives is to proactively seek out and track female-led tech startups. Not only that, but the platform is also in the process of bringing more female investors onboard.
“We expect to continue co-investing with the great female investors in our ecosystem, of which there are several amazing ones, and look forward to seeing more enter the VC space in the coming period. Some of the women-led funds even specifically train new female investors and solely invest in female founders.”
According to the +VC co-founder, given MENA’s relatively young startup ecosystem, the region has done a pretty impressive job in-terms of gender representation. He emphasized that point by saying:
“Over the past few years among over 175 companies, 24% of our investments had at least one female founder. A number that may be far from the ultimate goal, yet is among the highest in the world.”
- How should startups approach +VC for funding
Sharif pointed out that +VC is currently in the process of making the fund fully operational with more than 300 deals already in the pipeline. He, however, assured that once fully operational, the platform will be reaching out to all startups individually to initiate the review/evaluation process.
He also noted that the best way to contact +VC is through the platform’s official portal, further adding that they also “take founder and investor referrals seriously”.
If you need more information about +VC or other similar platforms targeted at tech startups, don’t hesitate to reach out to us using any of our social media channels over at Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn!