Egypt’s Illa raises $500,000 seed to offer full-stack delivery solutions to FMCG companies

Cairo-based logistics startup Illa (ILLA) has raised $500,000 in a seed round from Averroes Venture Capital, AUC Angels, and some local and regional angel investors. The round also includes follow-on funding from Flat6Labs Cairo. Illa was part of Flat6Labs Cairo’s Spring 2019 cycle.

Launched in March 2019, Illa offers full-stack delivery solutions to corporates and SMEs operating in the FMCG (Fast-moving consumer goods) industry. Its services are designed for manufacturers, distributors, hypermarkets, hotels, F&B chains, and many other stakeholders involved in the FMCG industry. Its supply just like any other trucking aggregator comes in form of freelance truck drivers or third-parties but the solutions are strictly focused on FMCG.

The startup before its official launch was in private beta testing its services with multiple pilot clients who it says are still part of its portfolio.

Illa’s clients can book its services in a few easy steps by selecting the truck type, filling in pickup and dropoff details (it supports multiple dropoffs too), and adding notes or attachments. Illa then picks up the shipment, transports it at designated locations and receives cash (if any) on behalf of its clients. Its network of trucks with different types and capacities can act as an internal fleet for the FMCG companies, notes its websites.

The clients can keep an eye on the deliveries through a dashboard that also comes with different types of analytics and reports.

“While innovating around logistics is challenging, it’s even more so within an ever-growing industry, and that’s why Illa is uniquely poised to capture considerable market share both locally and regionally for their exclusive focus and innovation around FMCG,” said the startup in a statement, adding that it now operates within 24 governorates across Egypt and has delivered 7 million cases so far.

It is already working with some of the biggest names in FMCG industry including CocaCola, P&G, Nestle, and Pepsico. Illa’s clients also include many leading local entities as well, it said in a statement.

Illa’s co-founder and CEO Mahmoud El-Zomor has previously worked with leading FMCG companies including CocaCola and Clorox and comes from a family that’s “deeply rooted” in the distribution industry. Mahmoud co-founded the startup with his longtime friends Alaa Jarkas, Ahmed Sakr, and Hossam Saraya. Alaa and Ahmed have also worked in the FMCG industry and Hossam comes with the experience of leading engineering teams at tech startups in Egypt and Germany.

The Egyptian startup plans to use the latest investment to grow further in Egypt and explore potential regional markets to expand into. Illa’s focus on FMCG doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have any competition as the trucking startups of the region also offer logistics solutions for FMCG companies. But for them; FMCG is one of the many industries they serve so the solutions may not be as customized (for FMCG) as they are in the case of Illa.

Dr. Ahmed Alsharif, Founding Partner and CEO of Averroes Ventures, commenting on the occasion, said, “Illa’s exceptional team of diversified backgrounds are surely capable and well equipped in becoming a key player in the future of the logistics technology industry.”

Mariam Kamel from AUC Angels said, “The ailing logistics and delivery sector is at a turning point, with Illa well-positioned due to their solid team, unique market know-how, and the strength of their solution.”

Marie-Therese Fam, the Managing Partner of Flat6Labs Cairo, added that Illa’s founding team demonstrated from day one [at Flat6Labs Cairo] that they’re an A team, “Their dedication, extensive experience in the logistics & multinational FMCG industries and more importantly their insightful vision were assuring signs of great success ahead. FLat6Labs is reinforcing its belief in Illa and the team by joining the second round of investment in the company, in order for Illa to continue to grow its business operations, to serve new markets/segments, and introduce new technologically-enabled solutions.”

(The story was updated with the amount of investment Illa has raised in this round).

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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