BECO Capital, one of the leading VC firms of the region that closed its second fund with $100 million late last year has launched a new pre-seed initiative to fund exceptional founders and teams build and launch (tech-enabled) startups in the Middle East & North Africa.
The program, called Launch with BECO, will select up to 10 founders or founding teams and provide each one of them with $150,000 and support from its network in exchange for 10 percent equity to turn their idea into a business. This is arguably the best deal a founder (or founding team) in the Middle East could get right now to be able to turn their ideas into businesses.
The founders are not even required to have an idea, “Although having an idea is preferred, you are not required to have one. We are looking for outstanding people, whether they have an idea or not. If you do not currently have one, our team will work with you to identify one,” notes BECO’s website, explaining the details of the program.
Amir Farha, the Managing Partner of BECO Capital, speaking to MENAbytes, about the inspiration of the program, said, “Our ecosystem is at a pivotal moment in its history, where Covid-19 has put its growth in jeopardy and where there is very little support available to tap into. Companies are struggling and laying off talented people, and we want those talented people to remain here and be productive. As an investor in the region, we felt that it is our responsibility to push everyone forward; to empower future founders, and give them the chance to create something, especially during this period.”
He explained that people and businesses in the region are looking for solutions that could help them save money and are much more open to change than ever before, “Remote work has forced people and businesses to embrace technology in everything they do. All of this makes today the best time to start something. For the budding entrepreneur, this means no legacy costs, access to a wider talent pool and generally more manageable overheads where the money takes them a lot further.”
BECO Capital has been one of the best VCs in the region when it comes to picking winners early on. They’ve been early backers of companies like Careem, Property Finder, Swvl, Vezeeta, Kitopi, Wahed, Shedul, and SellAnyCar. Almost all these companies are valued at $100 million or more. Property Finder has a valuation close to $500 million and Careem was acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion.
The Dubai-based firm now wants to repeat the same success at the pre-seed stage by being the first institutional cheque for founders to help them build the next big thing of the region.
Speaking about the kind of individuals and teams BECO Capital would be investing in through Launch, Amir said, ‘We’re looking for people who possess ambition, resourcefulness, proactivity and a desire to make a massive impact with whatever they do. Teams are preferred, especially those with technical skills.”
“We are looking for people who have the ability to think deeply about problems and articulate themselves and their ideas with clarity. We look for people that are open-minded yet have strong convictions that are built on substance,” he added.
When asked if the program will only fund former Careem and McKinsey employees (and the likes), he said that domain expertise is a bonus but they don’t spend too much time looking at credentials on CVs, “We spend more time understanding the people behind those ideas, which is why we make it mandatory to apply with a video describing yourself.”
The program that according to its website is open to individuals and teams based in the Middle East (or from the Middle East) will also offer support to all the founders through BECO’s network of investors and portfolio companies.
“Not only the founder(s) get access to BECO’s and our wider family of founders but will have access to experts globally to help them think through their idea, and we will support them with setting up their holding company and bank accounts through our existing relationships,” said Amir, in a conversation with MENAbytes.
The selected teams will also receive monthly office hours with the BECO partners and their network of founders and experts. BECO in addition to all of this will also potentially invest in the following rounds of the companies, “If you are successful and growing, we will continue to back you with hands-on support and capital up to Series B,” notes its website.
Even though the program aims to invest in people, it does not mean BECO won’t consider founders who’ve already built their MVPs, “We understand that each application can come at a different stage of development. We’re even considering individuals without ideas, where we can think through ideas together if necessary. So if a founder has an MVP, they can still apply as well. We would consider them as long as they haven’t taken outside capital,” explained Amir.
BECO is accepting the application on a rolling basis until the end of 2020 but if they manage to find 10 founders (or founding teams) to invest in before the end of the year, they will close the applications earlier.
The firm will get back to successful applicants (those who’ve passed the screening) within five days of submission to schedule initial interview.