Private chat platforms are the future of social media. Facebook recently invested in a similar service startup in India, called Meesho. A former Facebook executive who built FB messenger is also investing in messaging platforms.
Now we hear that Dubai-based social commerce startup Zbooni has raised $1.1 million. The round was led by Chalhoub Gorup, a leading UAE-based luxury retailer and Lebanese VC B&Y Venture Partners.
Zbooni helps businesses (mostly SMEs) sell via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. SMEs can download Zbooni’s mobile app to set up their account, add the products they want to sell with price and description, and then share the link with customers through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram DM.
Customers then can review the items and price as well as make the payment or request/discuss amendments to the order without having to download the app. The payment page opens in their browser. Once the payment is made, business and customer receive automated invoices.
“Business is increasingly done through WhatsApp and social media services such as Instagram and Facebook. These channels are the modern equivalent of shop windows that showcase a merchant’s products and services to the world, but consumers want to engage before they transact. Zbooni connects merchants with customers while providing an easy way to make payments.”Ramy Assaf, Founder of Zbooni
Founded in 2017 by Ramy Assaf & Ashraf Atia, the 2-year-old startup is seeing “strong demand from businesses in the UAE” with “transaction volumes consistently growing at above 30% month-on-month.” The startup predicts that there are over 3.5 million SMEs in the region who who could benefit from its technology.
The app is currently being used by a wide range of merchants including cake shops, artists, basketball clubs, fashion outlets and even medical clinics.
As per its statement, Zbooni is one of the only eight companies from the world and the only one from the Middle East to take part in a six-month incubator program at Facebook. It’s not clear when the company took part in this program. However, there is definitely a growing interest in instant messaging service from investors. Facebook's Libra is also being built to capitalise on this market.