Press Release: Dubai-based Melltoo Marketplace Closes Seed Round with Top-Name Local Investors

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.”

 

MELLTOO ON SKY NEWS ARABIA

MELLTOO ON SKY NEWS ARABIA

 
Watch our media relations coordinator, Soukaina Rachidi in an exclusive SKY NEWS ARABIA interview about the revolutionary movement taking place in peer to peer marketplaces in the region.
 

ميلتو.. ثورة بعالم التجارة الإلكترونية

ميلتو.. ثورة بعالم التجارة الإلكترونية
أحدث موقع “CRAIGLIST” الأميركي ثورة في طريقة بيع وشراء السلع المستعملة. ويشتهر تطبيق ميلتو بأنه يجمع الراحة التي تقدمها الإعلانات المبوبة على الإنترنت، وسهولة استخدام تطبيقات التواصل الاجتماعي.

TechCrunch Meetup In Dubai Uncovers A Vibrant Startup Hub For The Middle East

Posted yesterday by Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) on TechCrunch

 
When I was invited to speak at the Step conference in Dubai (a new-ish startup conference which brings in international speakers), I figured I would use the opportunity to get a taster of the kinds of startups that were being built out of the city by holding a TechCrunch Meetup. While Dubai — under the watchful gaze of its royal rulers of course — positioned itself an early proponent of the Internet by creating the Dubai Internet City a long time ago, it is the new wave of tech startups which have emerged from the co-working spaces and incubators which are now making the running in the city […]
 
In 2nd place was Melltoo, a Consumer-to-consumer classifieds app that lets you easily sell second-hand items. It’s similar to Wallapop, or Depop in Europe. But Melltoo will also pick up the item and deliver it to the buyer. This works well in the Middle east, where people tend not to like to meet strangers… Melltoo has raised $205K in funding so far […]

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Payment solution, online marketplace, and logistics startup top TechCrunch Dubai

by Sushmitha Pidatala, April 1, 2015 on Wamda

 
The second hand market place Melltoo gave a strong story-telling pitch using a real scenario with a used iPhone. Sharene Lee, cofounder, explained how the idea started out as a traditional classifieds site, but that it soon became clear that buyers and sellers found it a hassle to meet and exchange the goods. Since then, the team has created a service in which communication takes place via a chat function and then the delivery of the goods is handled by the company itself, eliminating the need for buyers and sellers to ever meet. Today, the site operates in English, Arabic, French and soon, Turkish […]
 
 
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Melltoo’s first anniversary: A year of many achievements

Melltoo's first anniversary
First anniversary: A year of many achievements

On March 1st, the Melltoo team celebrated the first anniversary since Melltoo first launched. Melltoo has experienced explosive growth in numbers of users and listings in our first year with double digit month-on-month growth, something we are extremely proud of. We also recently closed our first ever external funding round in a region where funding is challenging, to say the least.
A few weeks ago, we hit our first major milestone: 100,000 downloads for our iPhone and Android apps! On average, we have 500-550 new organic downloads per day with a retention rate of 40% and, no, we don’t spend any money on paid advertising! How does Melltoo do it? How do we build our brand? What are our growth and retention strategies?
There’s no secret. All you have to do is solve a problem and do what your users tell you to do.

Organic growth

Organic growth

Melltoo’s growth strategy is 100% organic. We provide value to our users by listening to their pain points and being there for them in every way we can. We also try to support our users by curating, creating and publishing the content they are searching for. By identifying keywords and promoting our blog content with SEO, we make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for . At Melltoo, we believe that creating valuable and searchable content is the best way to gain users’ trust, eventually converting them into users for life.
Apps are the new search engines of the internet, as people don’t search for things on Google anymore. Nowadays, people prefer to search for things on apps (e.g. opening Zomato to search for a Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood). As a mobile-first startup, app store optimization has become a central part of Melltoo’s growth strategy. Very often, users are only looking to browse items in a particular category, in a specific geographic region (eg. second-hand mobiles in Dubai). Melltoo has addressed this phenomena by creating various apps for every one of our six verticals (Kids, Mobiles, Homes, Rentals, Cars, Fashion) in multiple cities in the MENA region. In this way, we provide highly customized and localized content for users.

Growth hacks

Our vision at Melltoo is to become the world’s default mobile people-to-people marketplace. To bring Melltoo closer to this goal, we are launching our in-app payment and delivery service on June 15, 2015 (only available in Dubai in phase 1).
While While Meltoo’s main focus is on the sale and purchase of fast-moving consumer goods, we also pay close attention to used cars and property rentals to acquire new users. Few people have the luxury not to resell a used car or search for property. Unfortunately, because smaller items (such as books and baby clothes) are difficult to sell second hand in the UAE, people are reluctant to even try. By offering a free and user friendly platform for buying and selling, Melltoo is changing that behavior because « everyone has something to sell » no matter how big or small!
Over the past couple of months, we have observed that users start browsing in our car vertical and then move to the mobiles vertical. Similarly, we found that many users start browsing in our rentals vertical and then move over to our fashion and kids stuff vertical.

We call this the funnel strategy. Our user acquisition and retention costs are ‘the cheapest’ on the cars and rentals verticals. This is mainly because of the abundant demand. Our role is to encourage new users who enter Melltoo through the cars and rentals vertical) to use our other verticals, thereby providing a holistic brand experience that goes beyond finding a new rent or selling an old car. The “Melltoo Experience” is buying and selling in a comprehensive mobile marketplace of trust.

Onboarding

Being user-first, we believe that user onboarding and customer support are the most important activities that we engage in, because it helps us build and consolidate Melltoo’s brand image. Every member of the Melltoo team monitors our user-facing and social channels, regardless of their job title or field of expertise. We all chip in when it comes to user support, because we believe that the interaction strengthens our team’s collective commitment to being user-first. Not only do we make sure to respond to all user queries in a detailed manner, we also strive to answer all queries within 24 hours of their submission.
A week after signing-up, every Melltoo seller receives a “hello” from us and an invitation to participate in our weekly “Hot Deals,” a newsletter that we created to help Melltoo users sell their items faster and improve SEO. This has proved to be an effective strategy because it allows us to communicate with our users and offer them all the support that they need to sell their items. In return, users support us by telling their family and friends about us and our services. The Hot Deals Newsletter is yet another example of how the entire marketing team works together to support our users. Not only do the Zoom-In’s allow us to engage existing users, it also helps us attract new users, by putting user-generated content at the center of all our social media channels.

Analyzing and Optimizing

Analysis plays a key role in the creation and implementation of new strategies at Melltoo. Impressions, click-through rates and conversion drive most of our marketing strategy. We closely monitor the posts that we share in our email campaigns, blog posts and social media, so we can get a better understanding of our email open rates and user behavior on our website.
Our newest strategy combines search marketing and branded content partnerships to increase the amount of UAE-focused content available to our users. So far, search marketing (use of keywords to improve SEO) is our most robust marketing performance metric. The Melltoo team consistently strives to write keyword-rich articles that our target markets (and vertical segments) are looking for. By joining forces with other local startups, we also hope to promote a spirit of entrepreneurial collaboration that will bring more valuable content and services to our users.

The best is yet to come

As we celebrate our first year anniversary, the Melltoo team would like to take the chance to thank the people who made this all possible: our users! We promise to continue supporting you by helping you sell your used items in the easiest way possible. No matter how big or small, everyone has something to sell. So, whether you’re saving for a dream vacation or a “new” car, we want to help you monetize your “junk.” Download Melltoo today and start checking things off your wish list today!

How to Build A User First Approach to Entrepreneurship

How to Build A User First Approach to Entrepreneurship
Alexis Baghdadi, Feb 13 2015

 
In the digital era, marketing is redefined as a fast-paced, high-impact affair. In this new global platform, entrepreneurship has evolved to a whole new level. SMEs can now rub shoulders with mega corporations, even with their limited resources. The relationship between customers and businesses is becoming less static thanks to technology and social media. Things have just gotten more interesting.
 
But being in the game is not enough; knowing how to play is the only guarantee of staying in the game and, with the right attitude, winning. A successful business is no longer defined by its size, but rather by its ability to attract and maintain a strong user following on the web. And this means delivering a fun and interactive experience from the get go. In other words: It is all about being “user first”. This was the engine under the hood of Melltoo, a Dubai-based mobile version of classifieds that is capturing the attention of users and investors around the MENA.
 
Adopting an Advanced User-Centric Approach
 
When a company puts users’ needs at the center of its product development it changes the pace and the focus of all of its endeavors. Being user first means giving top priority to user experience in order to nurture brand loyalty. Whether Melltoo is building content or expanding user outreach, the question is always: How do we engage users and bring them value? For co-founders Morrad Irsane and Sherene Lee, the app answered the need to bring the classified ads culture into the new digital age and make the experience more friendly. Websites, blogs and various social media networks had already adjusted to host classifieds on their platforms, but they all registered similar complaints. Posts and items for sale often got lost in the noise, and the response rate was sometimes despairingly slow or untrustworthy. The startup also noticed there could be buyers for even the smallest, inexpensive items so it decided to give fair treatment and exposure to every item. This has given it a distinct edge over other selling platforms like Dubizzle. Melltoo’s user first objective challenges conventional business practices on a daily basis. Real-time messaging through the in-app chat allows users to address each other directly and receive immediate updates on their phone to conclude deals. Because it is the only way for them to interact, it guarantees their privacy and ensures the safety of their contact details. They can also file complaints and block abusive users. This example of a user first approach constituted Melltoo’s primary entry point into the MENA market where the mobile app territory was still widely unchartered. So in many ways, the company’s user first, mobile first, MENA first mindset created quite a stir in the Dubai startup scene. Its unique approach to addressing users’ pain points in the UAE has created a new set of business practices tailored to the needs of a growing population of young smartphone users in the region.
 
Community Feedback at the Heart of Growth
 
Melltoo is always looking for new user engagement strategies and testing them. As a small operation, it takes a Darwinian approach to strategizing in order to conserve its resources and human capital. Its flexible hierarchy makes it possible to involve all team members every step of the way, starting at the idea stage. Of course, such an operation requires constant communication and often calls for multitasking. Although members of the Melltoo team are located in different parts of the world (France, Tunisia, Pakistan, India and the UAE), they are able to stay in constant contact thanks to the team communication platform Slack. Ultimately, this makes Melltoo a leaner, more united and supportive team. Once a strategy is implemented, the team spends weeks on monitoring user behavior and internet analytics before deciding on improvements in service delivery. According to the founders, “Being user first means incorporating user feedback into the development process, in order to build a product that brings value to users.” Because it is a small operation, Melltoo is able to quickly adapt its marketing and engagement strategies to changes in its user base. In turn, this grants it the necessary elasticity to redefine and refocus its brand identity effectively. Such a dynamic brand identity is very conducive to the organic growth of both the company and its user base.
 
One example of how Melltoo translates customer engagement into growth is through its broader range of social interfaces. For instance, the website’s blog features articles by experts on how to promote items on sale or advice from Decluttr Me (http://decluttrme.com/) on reducing excess at home or in the office by de-cluttering. The app has also collaborated with other startups and initiatives such as sales of handcrafted products or used items to raise funds for causes. This deep social integration has a purpose: to build trust in the marketplace. It also serves to strengthen the buying and selling eco-system in the UAE and therefore reinforce Melltoo’s position in the market. Since its launch in March 2014, the app has had over 100,000 installs, with a daily growth of 450+ users.
 
More About Meltoo:
Arabnet the quaterly
 
Melltoo is a classifieds listing service for mobile where people can buy and sell things. The startup was launched in 2014 with an initial investment of $100,000 in own funds and has recently secured investment from the WOMENA angel investor group to boost itsgrowth. The app is available for free on the Apple and Android stores.
 
This article was originally published on Arabnet.me

Classifrauds to Klassifriends: How Melltoo is Revolutionizing UAE Classifieds

Like many people in the UAE, Layla has a lot of stuff in her house that she doesn’t use. Her first thought was to sell them on web-based classifieds, like Craigslist. Excited by the idea of decluttering her home, Layla creates her account on Craigslist, fills in her contact information and starts posting her children’s toys for sale. Soon after, Layla started getting calls at all times of the night and to make matters worse, the callers were asking to get her stuff for free! Frustrated by two weeks of troubled sleep, Layla deletes her account and looks for another solution.

After speaking with her friends, Layla decides to join a Facebook group for buying and selling second hand items. Once accepted as a member, Layla started posting immediately. However, even when people were able to find Layla’s posts in the group’s never ending feed, it was difficult for them to contact her, because they weren’t her Facebook friends. Consequently, their messages were going to her “Other” inbox. Left with no choice, Layla started including her phone number in her posts, because she was tired of wasting time. However, after sharing her number, strange men started adding Layla on Facebook. One even called her to compliment her profile picture! Appalled, Layla deleted her posts immediately and exited the group.

Close to giving up, Layla recalls a new app called Melltoo that her friend Muneera told her about. Muneera had used the app to sell her stuff when she was moving. Layla remembered Muneera praising the app as being “a friendlier way of buying and selling stuff in the UAE.” Layla decided to give decluttering one last shot, downloaded the app and started uploading things for sale on Melltoo. A month later, without a single sleepless night or strangers invading her private life, Layla sold all of her children’s toys.

 

So, what makes Melltoo so different from other UAE classifieds platforms?

 

  • Privacy: One of the key things that distinguishes the Melltoo app from other classifieds platforms is the fact that users don’t have to share personal contact information, such as phone numbers and emails, on their profile.

 

  • Simple Posting Format: Instead of spending an eternity formatting and reformatting posts, the Melltoo app provides a simple and clean format, which allows users to post an advertisement with a picture, a price and a description, all under 60 seconds.

 

  • Easy Communication: The Melltoo app has a convenient built-in chat, which allows buyers to interact with sellers on the app, without having to exchange phone numbers or emails. In addition to ensuring users’ privacy, the chat also allows potential buyers to ask sellers for additional information and pictures of the item on sale.

 

  • Geolocalization: Another unique characteristic of the Melltoo app is geolocalization, which allows users to see how far an item being sold is from their current location.

 

  • Category Search Capability: Scrolling through Melltoo’s feed can be an entertaining distraction for people who are waiting for the metro or a doctor’s appointment. However, for users who are not interested in “window shopping,” the Melltoo app allows them to search for items based on different categories and keywords. Thus allowing them to find what they are looking for quickly.

 

  • Likes: Not only is the Melltoo app making the process of buying and selling easier, it also makes it more social and engaging. When a user likes an item, not only will it be saved in the user’s activity tab, they will also receive a notification when other users like the same item. Creating a community of people who share similar interests and values.

 

  • Share Button: Users can also share their Melltoo posts on various social media platforms including Whatsapp, Facebook,  Twitter etc, which allows their items to reach more buyers in their private circles.

 

  • Comments and Reviews: In order to create a quality buying and selling experience and bring trust back to the marketplace, the Melltoo app enables users to warn each other about suspicious sellers or products by allowing them to post comments on the item in question. In addition to promoting a community-powered quality control system, the app also enables users to encourage each other, by allowing users to post reviews about a seller’s product and/or interactions.

Make classiflirts and classifrauds a thing of the past. Download the Melltoo app and start buying and selling with your Klassifriends today!

 

leaving-dubai-sell-furniture

leaving-dubai-sell-furniture

App update (Feb 2015): Easier Sharing of Posts

Melltoo last update - January 2015

Melltoo starts this new month with new app updates. We crushed all the reported bugs all of our family apps on Melltoo Rentals, Kids stuff , Used Cars Home Furnishing, and Mobiles app.
You can now share the URL of your item (from our web app) to your social networks, via email, whatsapp, or simply by copying and pasting the link. When you click on the URL of any item, it will open right in Melltoo; yes, it’s so cool.
– When you click on the URL of any item, it will open right in Melltoo; yes, it’s so cool.
Your feedback means the world to us. If you’re experiencing any tech problems with our iOS or Android versions, do get in touch by chatting with us on the app with me (username: ahmedmedien) or by sending us an email to “hello@melltoo.me.” Use subject line “Tech bug.”

On Trust in the Marketplace

In recent years, websites like eBay and Amazon have made online shopping popular worldwide. You can buy just about anything, from anyone, from anywhere in the world. Thus, making the internet a fascinating marketplace with millions of buyers and sellers.

Unfortunately, the anonymity that comes with the internet has also allowed many scammers, spammers and harassers to do what they do with impunity. Leading to the absence of an integral aspect of any online or offline marketplace: TRUST.

At Melltoo, we believe that anonymity is the death of trust. So we have created an app that makes buying more social for you, by introducing user profiles, beautiful interfaces and built-in chatting capabilities.

“Social network marketplaces, like Melltoo, solve the issue of trust in the marketplace, because they allow you to know with whom you’re dealing” (Morrad Irsane, Melltoo Co-Founder). Any good marketplace is defined by confidence, but what does that really mean?

“I believe that trust is an essential part of any business transaction. A buyer needs to feel confident that a seller is selling a genuine article that can be paid for securely and will arrive on time. On the other hand, a seller needs to feel confident that a buyer is genuinely interested in buying their item, willing to pay the advertised price, but more importantly pay it on time.” (Soukaina Rachidi, Media Relations Coordinator).

The Melltoo team hopes to globally promote the idea of a social marketplace with “no anonymous buyers, no lowball offers, no spam, no scam” (Sharene Lee, Co-Founder), because you, the user, deserve to “buy with confidence, without the fear of disappointment” (Ibrahim Diame, Social Media Manager).

“I am more prone to trust people who share common goals and values with me” (Ahmed Medien, Melltoo Growth Manager). With that idea in mind, Melltoo is working hard to build a supportive community of buyers and sellers who can thrive in a marketplace that is defined by our three core values: trust, sustainability and privacy.

Join our community and become a member of a marketplace that puts it’s user’s first!

Inspirationally,

The Melltoo Team

On Promoting Sustainability in the UAE

One of the main reasons that I chose to join the Melltoo team was their passion for promoting SUSTAINABILITY in the UAE. We believe that we can help protect the environment by finding your preloved items new and loving homes.

At Melltoo, we are determined to change the current culture of consumption, so we can “consume less energy and avoid wasting precious resources.” (Ibrahim- Melltoo Social Media Manager)

Selling second hand is also about “getting back some of your assets worth/value/money. In basic accounting, it is generally assumed that assets will be sold after x years of depreciation. It’s almost natural.(Ahmed- Melltoo Growth Manager)

As a society, “we produce and consume too much, but by buying/selling second hand, we can keep consuming without over-producing.” (Sharene- Melltoo Co-Founder).

The sharing economy is about creating a new culture of consumption, a culture where everyone can enjoy some of the finer things in life. Not everyone can afford a smartphone, laptop or designer bag at their original retail prices, but anyone can enjoy these luxuries with the discounted prices that the sharing economy provides.

“Not only does the sharing economy allow us to live more sustainably, it also allows to share the joy and/or comfort that our household items brings with fellow members of our community.” (Soukaina- Melltoo Media Relations Coordinator)

Join the Melltoo team in promoting sustainability in the UAE by cultivating a culture of sustainable consumption, income, but more importantly a culture of sustainable love for the preloved items in our lives.

Yours inspirationally,

Melltoo team