MAGNiTT connecting funding ecosystems in MENA
Why did you start MAGNiTT? How has it evolved since you first started in 2015? What has been your journey?
Philip Bahoshy: I started MAGNiTT because I saw that entrepreneurial ecosystems across the region were disconnected, and often working offline. We work hard to bring much-needed data accuracy, transparency, and comprehensiveness to MENA, as well as to connect entrepreneurial ecosystems in emerging markets -- all online. In the current COVID-19 crisis, we have seen this more than ever before whereby people are going digital to connect with the ecosystem.
The platform has moved from an MBA platform (connecting MBA alumni) back in 2015 to MENA’s largest data platform for venture investments. We are built on three core pillars that support the ecosystem. A community where stakeholders can connect virtually online gaining access to news, funding and talent. Our data, which is the most extensive for venture capital in the MENA region. Our research, which is the reference for trends and analysis on the ever-evolving space.
What are the investment gaps in the region and how do you see that changing?
We do not see a gap at any specific funding stage – there is a need for (financial) support at any stage of a startup’s fundraising cycle. Many governments have launched accelerators for early stage support, as well as investment funds to provide more liquidity at the later stages, which has certainly helped. However, many startups that reach the later stages also look to international investors to raise their larger funding rounds. Now more than ever before, there is a need for stimulus and an injection of capital to support startups and their founders as they move toward profitability overgrowth.
Has there been a change in the quality of the startups that now go for funding?
We always say that serial entrepreneurs make the best entrepreneurs. Due to the nascent nature of the regional ecosystem, there are few entrepreneurs that have started multiple businesses, but we have seen several founders exit their company only to start a new one. Hence, we do believe that the quality of startups has gone up, and that it will continue to go up in the near future. As well, which you see with large exits like Careem, many of their existing staff are inspired to start ventures of their own or to invest in other companies where they can share their knowledge and know-how.
What is next for MAGNiTT?
In the short-term, we’re looking to navigate COVID-19, and to support our community to do the same. We’re exploring other emerging markets where MAGNiTT can potentially expand to, create value for, and connect. There are huge opportunities and synergies connecting ecosystems together through data and information, and in providing data that can drive more informed decisions at all levels of the entrepreneurial landscape.