#WhereisWOMENA? In Dublin for the AngelSummit Europe! brings together the region’s most notable angels, VCs, community leaders and corporate innovators for panels and workshops to discuss startup and angel investing from every perspective. Here at WOMENA, we love syndication and can never turn down an opportunity for a good exchange of knowledge and experience, which is why this year, WOMENA will be an official partner with AngelSummit Europe.  

Conference speakers will include superstar angels and startup gurus such as 500 Startups Dave McClure, EBAN’s Candace Johnson and Startup Grind’s Derek Anderson. We’ll be sending our own Elissa Freiha to speak on the second day of the conferenceat 11am on the topic of investing across borders. Elissa presented at last year’s AngelSummit in Madrid, and enjoyed it so much she jumped at the chance to participate again in 2016.

In Elissa’s words, here are some reasons why angels should take advantage of the opportunity to attend this AngelSummit. “Whilst the angel scene is the US is quite well promoted and documented, the European and Middle Eastern scenes are still developing and event like this is critical for knowledge sharing and cross ecosystem network building in a time when it is still very needed.”

To learn more about the Angel Summit Agenda, check out their website here. Last minute tickets can be snagged at this link (for a 50% discount, use the promo code WOMENA). Note: Tickets will not be sold at the door. Registration will close on Tuesday, June 7th at 2 pm IST.

To follow the chatter over twitter, catch us at Twitter: @womena_co or the official event: @StartupAngelsCo with the #AngelSummit hashtag. Also, follow our other upcoming travel adventures with hashtag #WhereisWOMENA. Who knows, we just might be at the city near you!

Deloitte Report on Women Investors  

We know women investors have a very important role to play in investment. We wouldn’t be here otherwise. So it’s always a satisfying feeling when we read a report from one of the world’s top financial institutions confirming this. Deloitte recently published the report: “Women investors: a critical and growing factor for success in the wealth management industry”. The report concludes that women investors present a significant opportunity for wealth management firms but specific capabilities will need to be developed.

Deloitte highlights some remarkable and revealing statistics to back up their arguments. Women control $20 trillion of the world’s wealth and two-thirds of women in the United States, the UK, China, Hong Kong and Singapore are the primary decision makers over household assets. Simply staggering numbers that extend to the UAE as well.

Deloitte recommends three changes to the way wealth management firms work for female investors:

  1. Serve the needs of the woman investor with financial education being particularly important
  2. Provide the deserved investor experience to ensure women feel the added value of financial advisors
  3. Cater to the investment preferences of women who are more likely to favour investments with a social impact

At WOMENA our angel investment platform is as flexible as possible for these very three reasons. Education is at the heart of what we do with our monthly workshops and personalised education syllabus for each member and the majority of the startups that have pitched to our members have a social impact.

To read the full report from Deloitte, click here.

An Angel’s First Step to Avoiding Risk  

Every entrepreneur around the globe is thinking about where they can get funding and every angel investor is wondering if the ventures they see will succeed.

Angel investing has come into the spotlight with TV shows like Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank bringing both the pressures and very real risks of what it means to be an angel to life for viewers around the world. Our investors in MENA are faced with the same dilemmas on how to maximize their chances for success and mitigate risk.

At WOMENA, we believe dealflow, diversification and diligence are the core principals for healthy angel investing. We also understand that making sure you have a broad spectrum of potential deals is both time consuming and requires some serious knowledge. Our aim is to support our angels by sourcing and conducting due diligence to screen and provide a varied pool of suitable start-up projects.

Keeping investments diverse and staying on plan is key – the majority of all start-ups fail so an angel should never have all their eggs in one basket. While returns on angel investments vary hugely, our policy is to work to provide start-up options with strong potential for co-investment in the MENA market.

It helps to remember that entrepreneurs are caught up in the excitement. They are in the honeymoon phase and will sweet-talk you if you let them. We work to help our angels avoid unnecessary risk by sharing industry knowledge, contacts, personalized access to a pool of pre-screened entrepreneurs and due diligence so investors can fund the right opportunities in the market.

How WOMENA can help you get started

While we work to provide investors with the best deal flow, a network of co-investors sharing knowledge, and take on due diligence and provide support throughout the deal lifecycle, angel investor should consider what they want to invest in, ensure they have enough capital, and cast a wide but strategic net to avoid unnecessary risk.

Many angels underestimate the value of angel groups. It is not just about launching with an exciting one-time investment. An angel is on board with all the companies they invest in for the medium if not the long term.

Working with WOMENA means that our investors have access to pre-screened up-and-coming opportunities that have the fundamentals to take off in the region. We work to pair angels with companies they can support to mitigate risk and ensure well-matched diversity in their portfolios. We make sure our angels know they are giving more than simply a lump sum but that to succeed they need to provide guidance and contacts to build a long-term relationship.

We also are convinced that believing in the company is key but it needs to be based on domain knowledge and ultimately the right amount of due diligence so the facts are all there. Angels can best support start-ups by coming in with smart money, commitment to an ongoing relationship with the entrepreneur and with the readiness to give and share knowledge. They can best mitigate risk with a strong deal flow, a diversified portfolio, and a strong community to invest with.

The Middle East Investment Landscape  

While WOMENA only launched late last year, we have continually been impressed at the growth of the entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem. Only a few years ago, there was very little investment in innovation and entrepreneurship but in the last couple of years, this growth has begun to explode.

We created the infographic above to highlight the Middle East investment landscape and the growth in the region but also the barriers for both investors and entrepreneurs. Possible investment funds are much more limited in size and there is a large funding gap past an investment round of $500,000 that needs to be addressed.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. As the infographic shows, the number of investments more than tripled between 2009 and 2012 and the vast majority of investors expect to invest in the region in the next couple of years.

Women have an important role to play in the Middle East investment landscape and we want WOMENA to be a great avenue for women to be involved. With case studies like Springbroad and Ellevate, there is consistent evidence that women can made a significant impact on the landscape.

What is an Angel Investor? WOMENA Explains  

Every year, hundreds of millions of people around the world begin their journey in entrepreneurship. Whether driven by need or desire, in hopes of creating a small family business or a large global enterprise, a necessary resource for any entrepreneur to begin is capital. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses on informal funding from themselves and what we in the business refer to as “FFF: friends, families and fools.” For some, this funding is enough. However, many, especially those with high-growth potential, will require multiple stages of funding in order to grow.

As entrepreneurship continues to flourish around the world, so too do the number of individuals who choose to become early stage investors in these startups. Referred to as an angel investor or a business angel, they are individuals who are independently wealthy and seek to invest their own money in startups. As early stage investors, angels typically invest during the seed stage, when a company has most likely built a prototype [link to commonly defined terms?], but has no real traction or growth. Because most of the business plan is still unproven at this point, the risk for investors is high but the entrepreneur’s need for capital is critical- a situation that has resulted in the investors being referred to as “angels.”

Because the risk for investors at this stage is so great, most angel investors will invest smaller amounts, between $10,000 and $50,000, in multiple companies. This approach allows an investor to diversify his or her portfolio, increasing chances that one of the startups will be very successful, referred to as a “homerun.” On average, most investments in a portfolio will fail, while only 1 in 10 investments in a portfolio is likely to return 10x the investment and 2-3 investments may return 2x the investment. To further mitigate the risks of early stage investing and increase the likelihood of funding a “homerun,” many investors join an angel group to invest alongside other angels.

Besides the risk, a major attribute of angel investors that sets them apart from other types of investors is that they usually offer their investments more than just capital. Angels provide valuable resources such as strategic or managerial advice and introductions to their personal networks to help the business grow. Oftentimes, an angel will sit on the board of advisors of the company in order to stay involved and offer assistance when needed. At such an early stage, access to such resources is an invaluable asset of angel investors and can help increase the likelihood that startups will survive and grow.

As an increasing number of individuals set out to disrupt various industries with their ideas, so too does the need for investors who are willing to take the risk of investing early and who can offer mentorship and guidance to their investments. If you think angel investing is for you, contact us or apply to be part of WOMENA.

Why It’s Time to Invest in The Middle East  

The Middle East is usually seen around the world as a region of war and tumult. There are areas in the region where unfortunately that is the case, but a lot of the region is stable and experiencing rapid growth, especially in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a unique mix of high consumption, quality entrepreneurs, increasing technological uptake, and an underdeveloped early stage financing ecosystem, it is the right time for to see some excellent returns if they know where to look.

The Middle East has a young and technologically engaged population with one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world. The culturally diverse region has 400 million potential customers sharing a common language that 4% of the world speaks, and yet there is a striking lack of mobile content serving this market, with only 1% of the world’s internet content in Arabic.

Governments are seeing the potential of startup ecosystems and are working hard to develop them. The Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, twofour54, The Khalifa Fund, and the King Abdullah II Fund for Development are just a few examples of government initiatives to support entrepreneurship and innovation.

Banks in the Middle East are wary of lending money to small and medium sized businesses. High net worth individuals in the Middle East, on the whole, tend to have a preference for investments in tangible assets. A fear of regional instability keeps many international venture capital firms and angel investors from investing in the region. While these conditions could be seen as drawbacks, they provide significant openings for angel investors who think differently and believe in the Middle East’s potential.

And for entrepreneurs, the competitive landscape is more favorable than in Silicon Valley. A smart entrepreneur can find opportunities to “arabize” a business that has been successful in the West, or create a unique startup catering to the region’s previously ignored needs, and may find themselves to be one of the few doing it, and with the right investors, or “smart capital,” the best doing it, too.

These are just a few of the reasons why the Middle East is an attractive region for investors and why WOMENA exists. We provide our investors with a clear portal to prescreened deal flow, our own due diligence, guidance for evaluating potential investments, tailored education, and we then facilitate the investment process for our members and help our portfolio companies to grow with the combined networks of our membership and the strategic guidance of our members, our team, and the wider community. We understand that some investors are apprehensive to get involved with technology startup investments, which look entirely different than real estate or restaurant investments, and we emphasize education and guidance for our membership and the community-at-large. We want our members to be smart investors who can help their portfolio companies be a big success and we want to see the Middle East grow.

Any comments or questions are welcomed and encouraged, and please follow us on Twitter and Instagram to keep up-to-date with WOMENA!

Introducing Melltoo: WOMENA’s First Investment  

We are very happy to announce today that our first investment is in Melltoo, a social network that connects buyers and sellers of secondhand goods. Morrad Irsane (CEO) and Sharene Lee (COO) launched the company in Dubai in March 2014. Already they have 85,000 downloads, 25,000 active users and daily growth of 400+ users.

Melltoo was one of the first companies to present to our members and they delivered a very impressive pitch. We asked Morrad and Sharene a few questions to learn more about Melltoo.

What was the inspiration behind Melltoo?

Hyper-consumption is a global problem. Yet, it is a problem that can be alleviated if we all just resell and reuse our things. However, there isn’t an easy way to sell the little (and even big) things in our lives that we no longer need. That’s why we built Melltoo, to provide an easier and friendlier way to sell the things in our lives that we don’t use anymore.

Melltoo is different to most other classified listings because of the deep social integration with the product. Why is this important?

Melltoo is a marketplace where people can buy and sell things. Classifieds are primarily a means to advertise something and to get leads. Melltoo, with our payment and delivery services, lets users buy and sell second hand things directly through the app, without even having to leave their homes.

The deep social integration has a purpose-to build trust in the marketplace. Being able to see users’ profiles and interacting with other users builds relationships and trust, which is the key component of a successful peer to peer marketplace.

You’ve seen some very impressive growth – why do you think Gulf residents have been so quick to embrace Melltoo?

Because we are solving a problem. People here shop a lot, move a lot, and have a lot to sell. The current options for selling their things are so cumbersome that they would rather just dump them or give them away. Because Melltoo helps Gulf residnts buy and sell easily, and in doing so solves a pain point, they have been quick to embrace the platform.

What’s next for Melltoo?

We are rolling out our payment and delivery services which should further accelerate the buying and selling process. This will be implemented one product vertical at a time. The investment secured from Womena will help us get to revenue-generation after which our series A round awaits.

How’s your experience with WOMENA been?

Our experience with WOMENA has been wonderful. Seeking investment is typically a painful and time-consuming process that diverts attention away from growing our business. With WOMENA, the process has been quick and smooth. The WOMENA team, despite being highly demanding in performing due diligence, is extremely efficient and the turnaround time was under 3 weeks. This is incredible, considering all the care that was put into the process. I can honestly say that I wish all investors did things the way WOMENA does.

To learn more about Melltoo, go to their website or download the app straight to your phone from the App Store or Google Play.

Investment Process  

We receive numerous questions from entrepreneurs about our investment process. Hopefully this post will clarify any questions you may have about the investment process!

Application Cycle

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


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 a first meeting.

First Meeting: During the first meeting/call, a conversation will be had between the entrepreneur and a WOMENA team member 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 proceed to initial due diligence.

Initial Due Diligence: In the initial due diligence stage, a due diligence expert from WOMENA will assess all aspects of the business plan, including market size/opportunity, competition, competitive advantage, financial projections and team members. At this stage, initial discussions regarding valuation and terms will also occur, to ensure that there is potential for an investment to be made. 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.

Term Sheet or Convertible Note Negotiation: After successful due diligence, WOMENA will present the company with a proposed term sheet that outlines the expected terms of the investment according to industry standards.

Pitch Preparation: Once the company has been approved to pitch and the term sheet negotiated, 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.

Meeting Pitch: At the pitch dinner, the entrepreneur has 8 minutes to present the pitch to our entire membership, followed by 10 minutes of questions and answers. At the conclusion of the pitch, investors will be asked to indicate their interest on a survey and to list any additional questions they have.

Further Due Diligence and Commitments: Any further questions or concerns potential investors have will be addressed, with WOMENA staff acting as the intermediary between the entrepreneur and the investors. 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.

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 other related resources.