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Farewell WOMENA

 

Three and a half years ago Elissa and I were on a boat somewhere in the Mediterranean and under the cover of the dark night sky and a clear view of the stars unpolluted by city light, we decided to start WOMENA.

Fast forward to December 2014, we launched with our first pitch meeting, and we haven’t stopped moving since. And I’m glad we didn’t stop.

We now have 7 portfolio companies performing exceptionally well building the future in industries from digital health to blockchain and a wonderful network who jump at the opportunity to help them grow. We’ve seen over 1000 entrepreneur submissions, had 17 pitch meetings where 44 entrepreneurs have presented, and done lots of due diligence. Over 350 participants have participated in our 28 workshops on angel investment and venture capital hosted thanks to generous partners. I’ve had the chance to meet hundreds of brilliant entrepreneurs, I’m constantly learning about new industries, and meeting investors with vision for the future.

So it is with a heavy heart that I say that I will be stepping away from active management of WOMENA. We have three wonderful staff, a beautiful office, great partners, WOMENA has been growing steadily and evolving rapidly and I expect great things from the team with my co-founder Elissa at the helm as the visionary and Chief Excitement Officer, Nermine, our talented analyst, Christina, our head of business development and sponsorship, and Dulce, our admin and community manager.

I’ll be in and out of the UAE for the next few months working on an exciting project – stay tuned for more details – and then will be heading off back to my corner of the world (San Francisco, not Hollywoodland). I am excited to be moving to the heart of technological innovation and hope to bring back what I learn to the benefit of WOMENA, its portfolio companies, and the MENA startup ecosystem.

I’ll remain an advisor to WOMENA so will pop in now and again, and am endlessly dedicated to our portfolio companies and will see to it I enhance their success wherever I can. And I’m so proud of WOMENA, which has taken a life of its own and can outlive me. That’s what every founder wants for their company, isn’t it?

Signing off for now,

Chantalle Dumonceaux

#WomenOfMENA

Numbers and Negotiations–WOMENA’s Angel Series Workshop Finance Edition

On Saturday, April 23rd, entrepreneurs, investors and even finance professors gathered at our Ecosystem Partner The Cribb to explore the financial aspects of investing and fundraising. The workshop was part of our Angel Series, a curriculum which aims to give early investors and entrepreneurs the skills needed to successfully invest and work with angel investors.

First up we had WOMENA rockstar Elissa Freiha who gave a brief overview about who angel investors are and how WOMENA works with angel investors to provide fun and seamless investment opportunities and networks.

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Next up was VC lawyer Shahram Safai from Afridi & Angell. His talk on term sheets gave everyone a solid understanding of which terms should be addressed and negotiated in a term sheet agreement or convertible note.

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Finally, numbers ninja and WOMENA co-founder Chantalle used theory, quizzes and practical examples to demonstrate how to create and analyze financial projections, in order to understand underlying assumptions and evaluate a startup.

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We enjoyed a full house at the event, with 30 attendees leaving the venue with new financial skills enabling them to make investments, and approach investors with greater confidence and increased knowledge.

WOMENA’s First Angel Series Workshop

On February 20th, we hosted our first Angel Series workshop at our ecosystem partner in5. This is the first in an extended series of workshops designed to educate both entrepreneurs and investors on angel investment. The goal of the programme is to have participants finish with the skills and knowledge to start their investment or fundraising journey.

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Our very own Chantalle kicked off proceedings with her talk “The Basics of Angel Investing” where she delved into the foundations of angels and angel investing. Ritesh Tilani, Managing Director of Innoventa, gave the talk “What makes a good startup” followed shortly by Shaheeda Abdul Kader, Strategy Advisor at iChanical and Investment Advisor, and her talk “Demystifying Due Diligence”.

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We are phenomenally grateful to Ritesh and Shaheeda for giving such excellent talks and our ecosystem partner in5 for hosting us! You can find more photos on our Facebook page.

Details for the next Angel Series workshop will be released shortly. Stay tuned!

What resources are there for entrepreneurs in the Middle East?

There has been an explosion in entrepreneurship in the Middle East in the last five years and this has corresponded with an increase in the number of organisations supporting entrepreneurship. These include incubators, coworking spaces, accelerators and angel groups like WOMENA.

At WOMENA, we’ve been trying to track this growth to ensure that we know as much as possible going on in the region. To that end, we’ve created a document for Middle East-based entrepreneurs listing a variety of resources across the region. It’s very much a work in progress and there are still a lot of resources to add.

We wanted to get your thoughts though: is it useful? How can we make it more useful? What else should we include? Would you rather the resources are broken down by country than by type? We always love to hear from you so add a comment below or email us!

Community Membership

As WOMENA has grown we’ve been energised and strengthened by the support we’ve received from the various investors, venture capital firms and investor groups we have spoken with. During these conversations we realised that the services we offer to our members are also valuable to institutional investors. With that in mind, we have developed our community membership package and we are excited to share with you the details today!

So what are the features of the community membership package?

  • Access to all of WOMENA’s pitch meetings and educational workshops
  • Access to all of our due diligence reports
  • The ability to close rounds via syndication, resulting in a stronger negotiating position

The due diligence reports are particularly valuable to any VC or investor that wants a second opinion or look at a company they are already interested in. Our reports are very extensive and have been described as “Series B quality” to a leading venture capitalist in the Middle East. We look at all aspects of a business including the financials, the competitive landscape and the management.

We believe the VCs that will benefit the most from our community membership package are those who:

  • Want to further impact the entrpreneurship community
  • Want to contribute to regional economic development by investing in local-stage companies
  • Want to help create an inclusive ecosystem
  • Want to help create an ecosystem to foster the growth of your own organisation or firm
  • Are interested in considering companies in WOMENA’s pipeline for WOMENA investment

If you would like more information about our community membership package, we would love to hear from you and please email us at contact@womena.co.

January Pitch Meeting

Our 2016 pitch meetings kicked off on January 25th at our ecosystem partner in5 in Dubai. And what a start it was! Four great companies pitch and saw both new and old faces.

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Women Investing in Women Digital is a global digital media platform focused on the economic empowerment of women and girls

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MrDraper is the first personalised men’s shopping service in the Middle East and hand pick outfits for men based on their preferences

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BEEM is a mobile app that allows you to find and book a salon appointment anytime, anywhere

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JustMop is an online on-demand platform that connects individuals with cleaners. Invitees can use the promo code WOMENA for a discount on the service ahead of the Pitch Meeting

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To view pictures of the event, check out the photos on our Facebook page!

Thank you to everyone who came and we look forward to seeing you again at our next pitch meeting on March 23rd!

Updated Investment Process

We’re always refining our processes to best serve our members, partners and entrepreneurs and that extends to our investment process. We’ve previously discussed that on our blog here but check out our updated investment process below.

Application Cycle

WOMENA has one pitch meeting every other month. Applications to pitch are open and ongoing.

Process

Initial Application: In order to be considered for an investment, interested entrepreneurs must fill out an application form here.

Initial Review: WOMENA staff will review the company’s application and supporting documents. If we believe that the company is a good fit, the entrepreneur will be contacted by the WOMENA team via email to set up an initial screening.

Initial Screening: During the initial screening, a conversation will be had between the entrepreneur and the WOMENA team to further discuss the company and the business plan, including the current status and future plans of the company. If there is continued interest after this meeting, the company will be scheduled to pitch at a WOMENA pitch meeting.

Pitch Preparation: Once the company has been approved to pitch, the entrepreneur will be asked to prepare materials for the pitch according to WOMENA templates. Upon submission of materials, a WOMENA team member will review them and schedule a call to offer edits and presentation coaching. WOMENA members will be provided with an overview of each company scheduled to present at the dinner.

Initial Due Diligence: During the pitch preparation stage, the company will also submit materials and answer questions for initial due diligence. Various aspects of the business will be assessed including market size/opportunity, competition, competitive advantage, financial projections and team members. It is crucial that entrepreneurs are in contact with the WOMENA team at this point to answer any questions in order to move the process along quickly.

Pitch Meeting: At the pitch meeting, the entrepreneur has 8 minutes to pitch to our entire membership, followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers. At the conclusion of the pitch, members will have the chance to privately discuss the company with other members and initial due diligence findings will be shared. Investors will then be asked to indicate their interest in the company on a survey. Those who indicate interest will receive a follow up call from WOMENA to confirm their continued interest. Three interested investors are required in order for WOMENA to follow up with the company.

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Follow-Up: No more than two weeks after the pitch, WOMENA will schedule a conference call with the WOMENA team, interested investors and the entrepreneur. On this call, investors will have the chance to further discuss with the entrepreneur and to notify the WOMENA team of any additional due diligence questions they would like answered in the report. At the conclusion of this call, if there is at least one investor still interested in the company, WOMENA will produce a due diligence report.

Further Due Diligence and Commitments: At this stage, the WOMENA team will continued in depth due diligence on the company. Investors will then be provided with a complete due diligence report for their review. Upon review of the document, interested investors will make a hard commitment to invest in the company. The valuation and proposed terms will then be negotiated.

Funding and Monitoring: Once investors have committed and all parties are satisfied with the terms of the investment, investors will transfer their investment to WOMENA SPC, the entity that will then invest in the company. A copy of the agreement will be given to investors for their records. It is expected that entrepreneurs will continue contact with WOMENA via regular reporting and updates. WOMENA and investors in the company will also be available to access for their network and related resources.

WOMENA’s Speakers

With the changes to our pitch meetings, we thought we’d reflect on the fantastic speakers we’ve had and the knowledge they’ve imparted on our assembled guests.

December 2014

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Kamal Hassan, Founder and Chief Excitement Officer of Turn8, gave a talk on “Key Ingredients That Make An Angel” at our very first Pitch Meeting.

February 2015

Heather Henyon, founder of Women’s Angel Investment Network (WAIN) and then Managing Director of Balthazar Capital, was our February speaker and spoke on “How to Assess a Presenter”.

March 2015

We had our first international speaker with Mona Al-Mukhaizeem, Founder of Sirdab Lab Accelerator in Kuwait, speaking on “How to Assess an Investment Opportunity”, in partnership with TechWadi.

April 2015

Our very own Nichole Bates was our April speaker and gave a talk on “The Startup and Funding Lifecycle”.

May 2015

As summer approached, Ramy Assaf’s, Senior Associate at Middle East Venture Partners, workshop was “What is Due Diligence?”

June 2015

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The final workshop before Ramadan and the summer break was led by Ameera Horriyat, Founder of Weyakum, in conversation with Bedour Al Raqbani of Kalimati and Sarah Wahbe of Dumye on “Social Impact: The Bottom Line”.

September 2015

Returning after the summer break, guests saw Elissa and Chantalle discuss “How to Maximise Your WOMENA Membership”.

October 2015

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Coinciding with TechWadi’s Roadshow, Sharif El Badawi, TechWadi Head Mentor and Partner Leads, VCs and Startups at Google, spoke about “Building the Next Silicon Valley”.

November 2015

At our most recent Pitch Meeting, Dr. Keith Jones gave a talk on “Assessing Intellectual Property When Evaluating a Startup”.

Angel Series Workshops on February 20th and April 23rd

Join WOMENA for our two workshops in the Spring for both aspiring angel investors and entrepreneurs looking to raise funds. Participants can benefit from attending either workshop, but we recommend attending both to maximize value. Participants will leave the workshop with sufficient knowledge of angel investment to start on their fundraising or investing journey.

The event is open to all, regardless of background or financial experience. Tickets are free for WOMENA members. Investors should contact WOMENA for more information about membership.

February attendees will receive a 20% discount on the April 23rd workshop as well. Details will be released for the April 23rd workshop soon.

Agenda 

10:00am – 10:30am: Networking and Coffee 

10:30am – 11:10am: The Basics of Angel Investing led by WOMENA

The WOMENA team will introduce angel investing in a friendly, open environment and lay the foundations for the sessions throughout the day.

11:10am – 11:50am: What Makes a Good Startup? led by Ritesh Tilani 

If you’re considering investing in a startup, what should you look for in that company? From a strong team to market opportunity, Ritesh will examine what makes a startup a good investment opportunity.

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Ritesh Tilani is a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist, with blue chip MNC and top-tier global consulting experience. Ritesh is currently Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Enhance, a holding company consisting of online businesses that provide life-enhancing services to consumers. In addition, Ritesh is as an advisor, angel investor and board member to multiple startups and accelerators, founder of the award-winning mobile loyalty platform for social good, CareZone and the former Head of UAE at iMENA Group. Ritesh is a native of the UAE with over 25 years of experience in the region. He holds a B.Sc. in Economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from INSEAD.

11:50am – 12:30am: Demystifying Due Diligence led by Chantalle Dumonceaux

What goes on in due diligence? What should you consider? What is of particular importance? Chantalle will go through the steps of the due diligence process

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Chantalle Dumonceaux oversees operations, strategy, and investments at WOMENA. She worked in Zurich and New York with startups and angel groups, where she has been involved in every facet of the angel investment process. Upon seeing what a positive impact angel groups make on society, women, and entrepreneurship, she decided to specialize and co-founded WOMENA to help Gulf women get involved in angel groups. She received her Bachelors in Economics from Columbia University in Economics.