PRESS RELEASE: 3rd May 2015, Dubai, UAE
In an unprecedented funding round, three of Dubai’s top institutional investors, TURN8 accelerator, Womena, and Silicon Oasis Founders (SOF), join hands with angel investor David Pirrie to invest in Melltoo Marketplace, the up-and-coming peer-to-peer mobile marketplace for second hand things. The parties invested a total of US$205,000 in the startup’s first external round of funding. The round saw collaboration between TURN8, Silicon Oasis Founders, and Womena, to invest in Melltoo, a graduate of the in5 incubation program.
Melltoo Marketplace is a mobile-first social platform for buying and selling second hand things. The startup addresses the problem of trust in the marketplace through the power of social interactions in a mobile app. In-app payment and delivery services will launch in June 2015. This will allow users to buy and sell their things without having to meet the other party. Melltoo will provide a money-back guarantee for both buyers and sellers in every transaction that takes place via the app. Since launching in March 2014, the Melltoo apps have been downloaded over 140,000 times and each day sees nearly 700 new users on the app. Users are highly engaged, spending an average of 5 minutes per session on the app browsing, commenting, and chatting with other users about their items for sale.
Morrad Irsane, co-founder of Melltoo: “The money raised in this round goes into preparing for the launch of our payment and delivery services. This includes improving our technology for ease of use and security as well as putting the logistical pieces in place for fast turnaround times on every transaction.”
The investors in the round signaled great confidence in the startup. Chantalle Dumonceaux of Womena states: “The company has good traction in a large and growing market, an experienced, informed, and honest team, a good competitive edge and solid exit potential.” Likewise, the team at SOF are bullish about the startup, recognizing the potential of Melltoo to fill a gap in the sharing economy: “We are very excited about Melltoo’s growth plans and ambitions and support the talented team fully.” Kamal Hassan, TURN8 Program Director, further added: “We were intrigued by their focus on the user experience and their foresight in addressing issues such as delivery. They also had a well-conceived business plan and value proposition.”
Melltoo’s funding round is the first time a number of top institutional investors in the region have come together amicably at the investment table, signaling a maturing startup ecosystem in Dubai. “We are happy to welcome Melltoo to DTEC.ae where they will be supported by the Silicon Oasis Founders’ team and mentors,” said Sirine Fadoul and Hans Christensen of the recently established Dubai Technology Entrepreneurship Center (DTEC) at Dubai Silicon Oasis. By virtue of their investment, the TURN8 accelerator has similarly taken Melltoo under their wing, offering support and mentorship to the startup. It is important to note also that Melltoo is a graduate of the in5 program, and received support from in5 in the form of subsidized licensing and rent at Dubai Internet City, as well as networking opportunities.
Such collaboration in the ecosystem means that startups can now benefit from the collective resources of these institutional players, which contributes to the overall growth in the number of success stories. Dumonceaux of Womena said: “We aim to be first and foremost, collaborative, and the more players with their skin in the game, the better for us and for the startup. We respect these entities (Turn 8 and Silicon Oasis Founders) and the teams behind them and are glad to work with them.” The investors acknowledge that they have an important role in fostering the startup ecosystem in the region, with SOF stating: “We are happy to invest in Melltoo along with Womena and Turn8 and collaboratively support tech talent in the region.”
Irsane of Melltoo: “We are extremely excited to have these highly respected institutions on board. With their support and funding, we can only take Melltoo to greater heights and that’s what we’re working day and night to do.”