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The Nuwa Capital podcast
35 minutes | Jan 11, 2023
Episode 19 - Business and openness
There is a clear mismatch between the demands of the modern day traveler and the available supply of apartments. As a corporate traveler, Aahan Bhojani sought the comfort of a homely apartment with the conveniences of a hotel, something that proved difficult to find. A year later, Aahan and his team had brought to market the first set of Silkhaus branded units. In this episode, Aahan takes us through how his vision evolved throughout Silkhaus’ first year in operations and how understanding the needs of all his stakeholders created new potential for the business, enabled by instilling agility in his team and creating a company culture built for growth.
39 minutes | Nov 8, 2022
Episode 18 - Art, NFTs and the evolving meaning of ownership
Art and Web 3.0 are two spaces where community is a key driver for growth. And through both, we have also seen the meaning of 'ownership' evolve. While further digging into the Web 3.0 space earlier this year, we felt the need to explore the unfolding of NFTs from a creator's perspective, so we reached out to Kristel Bechara, an award-winning contemporary artist whose work has been displayed globally. Kristel was one of the first artists to create NFT art in the Middle East, and has developed Arts DAO's debut NFT drop, dubbed "The Ethernal Gates". In this episode, we take a bit of a different angle and dig into how NFTs as a medium for art could offer more legitimacy online for artists. Kristel discusses her path to building her business as an artist, how she shaped her view on NFTs, as well as how the latter have helped evolve the meaning of ownership.
36 minutes | May 27, 2022
#canceled - Episode 1
Introducing our #canceled series: Every Friday afternoon, we set up in our meeting room and discuss market developments, hot topics - give or take a few tangents - to wind down and conclude the week. Totally unscripted, and very, very lightly edited. Ep. 1 features Khaled Talhouni, Stephanie Nour Prince, Nitin Reen, Arnav Danthi, Ghassan Noursi and special guest Mikail Malik. Ep. 1 was recorded on May 13.
51 minutes | Apr 25, 2022
Episode 17 - Reliable online infrastructure is an essential prerequisite to any digital economy
Traditionally, startups have had to face large delays prior to launch due to the need to build infrastructure and core back-end functionalities in-house, such as the acceptance of payments. This takes up valuable resources, and shrinks the amount of time developers have to build the startup’s core product/service. Realizing this issue is faced by every startup and can be commoditized, many infrastructure-as-a-service / API-first startups emerged, enabling startups to outsource these core functionalities and add them via third-party integrations, making their path to market faster and easier. However, as startups today have increased their dependence on these third-party services, they face some friction. This has led to a second wave of infrastructure-led startups, like MoneyHash, a Nuwa portfolio company. For episode 17 of our podcast, we chatted with Nader Abdelrazik, cofounder of MoneyHash. We dug into the MoneyHash culture, the challenges faced by regional startups with payments and how MoneyHash platform will help solve them.
52 minutes | Mar 17, 2022
Episode 16 - Building equity value alongside founders
The tech ecosystem across MENA is young but rapidly evolving. As recently as a few years ago, startups were restricted to fundraise from limited sources of capital, predominantly from a handful of VCs or angel investors. Today, with increasingly more capital entering the ecosystem, the capital base has diversified, with an innovative set of players such as super angels, solo GPs, and syndicates arriving and changing the game. Investment in MENA-based companies has more than doubled in the last 2 years, going from ~$1B in investments in 2020 to ~$2.6B in 2021 according to Magnitt. With the increased availability of capital, early-stage companies are raising faster and larger rounds to double or triple down on growth, bolstering further startup activity. While capital is cheaper, it has also never been more important for founders to pause and reflect on who they want to partner with and who is best positioned to support them. So for Episode 16 of our podcast, we chatted with Chad Fox, solo GP of Fox Ventures. Both Nuwa Capital and Fox Ventures have backed the stellar teams of baraka and MoneyHash, and Chad’s reputation as a value add investor makes him a force to be reckoned with. We go into Chad’s thinking on fintech, and his emerging market investment thesis.
42 minutes | Feb 21, 2022
Episode 15 - On changing food habits and the waning ‘need to cook’
Two years ago, many of us went through some sort of a reset in terms of how we think of, prepare, and consume food. With more time spent at home, some resorted to making their own bread and nut butters, while food delivery still soared. This, however, may have only acted as an accelerant to an existing trend: MENA is witnessing an increased adoption of health-conscious food choices, in line with global trends: over 60% of the region’s population has adopted a healthier lifestyle over 2020/21, according to PWC. With people increasingly back on the go, allocating time to prepare or order the right meals matching one’s health and fitness goals becomes quite the commitment - enter Calo. For episode 15 of our podcast, recorded a few weeks ago, we chatted with Ahmed Alrawi and Moayed Almoayed, co-founders of Calo. Calo lifts the burden of preparing or choosing adequate, quality meals from consumers working on reaching their fitness goals or managing health conditions - and since its inception, the company has seen explosive growth, becoming the leader in health-conscious ready-to-eat meals in under a year in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. We dug into the Calo culture, the technology, and how Ahmed and Moayed seem to have cracked the code when it comes to meal customization and end-to-end operations.
38 minutes | Jan 10, 2022
Episode 14 - Pet care, healthtech, e-pharma, and unexpected parallels between Europe and MENA
The global pet care industry was estimated to be at c. $200B in 2020. It is, in fact, larger than the baby care market (c. $70B) and trailing shortly behind the child care industry (c. $270B), with pet owners spending more and at a higher rate on their pets. In MENA, the market remains a bit of a curiosity, with pet ownership seemingly on the rise and a tangible change in perception of what taking care of a pet entails. In the last two years alone, there has been a flurry of new products and services on offer to satisfy every pet’s dietary, accessories, and care needs. In Episode 14 of our podcast, we spoke to Florian Seubert, cofounder and venture partner at Maxburg Capital Partners. Florian started his career at JP Morgan before launching Europe’s largest pet supplies e-commerce platform, Zooplus. We dive into what it took to build a successful pet care company at the cusp of the dot-com boom and Zooplus’s subsequent expansion to over 30 European markets. Our conversation with Florian drew an interesting and unexpected parallel between the European and MENA markets, from digitization (or lack thereof), scaling in fragmented markets, and the potential of industry roll-ups. Florian also shares his insight on the evolution of the tech landscape in Europe, particularly within healthtech and e-pharma, and how Maxburg Capital Partners is laying the foundations for the future of tech on the continent.
45 minutes | Dec 11, 2021
Episode 13 - Is the mental health space about to have its penicillin moment?
Similar to the healthcare industry, the mental health care and provision system was built for and within an environment that has since greatly shifted. While the mental healthcare system has traditionally depended on therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, the supply of qualified professionals is thin, particularly in MENA. Research in the space has stalled, particularly on specificity of treatments or discovery of new treatments as a whole, and data tends to be extremely scarce. This is, again, even more so the case in MENA. By and large, the mental health and wellness space will need to catch up to adequately serve our post-2020 world. We may still be at the cusp of a shift in mindset when it comes to mental health in the region, but there is a tangible, sharp rise in awareness, particularly post-pandemic. The evolution of the space, it seems, hinges more than ever on technology, coupled with substantial developments in research. A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of hosting Fares Ghandour, cofounder of Tuhoon. We have known Fares for years, as one of the earliest investors in MENA, and were keen on listening to his experience of moving to the operator side, and building a company in a sector that is, perhaps, about to see its own penicillin moment.
63 minutes | Nov 21, 2021
Episode 12 - A Renaissance man in the Digital age
The Lighthouse seems to sit at the nexus of venues that are at once both familiar and inviting. A place where conversation, culture, literature and curiosity intertwine at ease and unfettered. Perhaps a Fitrovia Tavern to the budding Dubai Bloomsbury group. As Hashem comes from an academic household, with a father he describes as an “economist at heart”, and a mother with an unparalleled level of curiosity and a strong interest in Art, we were curious about which elements Hashem brought into The Lighthouse, which he cofounded with Hani Bassiouni. We trace back Hashem’s journey from asset management and finance, his first entrepreneurial experience, and the toolkit the cofounders built on for The Lighthouse. We dive into the dialectic of the aesthetic and the analytical, with Hashem and Hani marrying both their commercial and cultural instincts to build a sustainable commercial enterprise and the wider role technology and entrepreneurship play in a rapidly changing society.
60 minutes | Oct 27, 2021
Episode 11 - Building for giants
With Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) increasingly looking to sell directly to consumers, Seez pre-empted the disruption coming to traditional dealerships by building a full suite of SaaS-based products allowing them to provide a real omnichannel experience. As end-consumers, we are probably more familiar with the Seez marketplace and car valuation data. But behind the scenes, cofounders Tarek Kabrit, Andrew Kabrit, and the Seez team have been innovating upstream, and have done so by building deep partnerships with car dealers to help the latter go online.
43 minutes | Aug 16, 2021
Episode 10 - The coverage conundrum, and why we all still have a lot of work to do
Media is a difficult industry. It is resource-intensive, extremely high-touch, and requires a constant state of being switched on to developments within sectors of focus. It is even more challenging in an atmosphere where things move faster than in traditional industries, and where the market is in constant flux. There is a need to elevate the quality of coverage dedicated to entrepreneurship, and the onus is on startups, investors, and the media. That doesn’t necessarily mean more coverage. There is still progress to be made when it comes to transparency and the willingness to share. Crushing goals, expansions, mistakes, and failures are all an integral part of that narrative. Coverage is a two-way street, and a result of building relationships with the media over time, rather than pelting editors with press releases – something we will be looking at more deeply as we continue to speak with editors and founders alike. For Episode 10 of our podcast, Khaled and I turn the tables on Zubair Naeem Paracha, founder of MENABytes. We were curious about how a platform, built by one person as a side gig, became one of the few noteworthy media outlets for startups. We dig into his perspective of how coverage of the space has evolved and what founders and their teams, investors, and editors need to do to unlock more value.
45 minutes | Aug 5, 2021
Episode 9 - This is not investment advice
There is a clear paradigm shift in how we think of wealth generation and capital more broadly. While previous generations may have primarily relied on passive income, today’s generations have a clear and rising appetite for a different kind of investment. And even more so in our markets, where current offerings are mostly directed towards higher-income segments and remain traditional and rigid, while international platforms are inaccessible or costly. For Episode 9 of the Nuwa Capital podcast, Khaled and Sarah spoke with Feras Jalbout, founder and CEO of baraka (getbaraka.com), to discuss the timing behind his leap into entrepreneurship and baraka, and what next-gen retail investors and the markets they’ll be investing in may look like. baraka launched its mobile investment app on August 3, after successfully building a large community through its content hub and daily market newsletter. It boasts a waitlist of over 10,000 users from across the Middle East, a testament to the large unmet demand in the market.
48 minutes | Jul 29, 2021
Episode 8 - An undeniable, irreversible mindset shift in healthcare
Earlier this month, Sarah and I had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Fayad Al Dandashi, CEO of Tamer Healthcare, for an in-depth discussion on the drivers of innovation in healthcare, and his perspective on how the space is shaping up for the future. Dr. Fayad started his professional path as an entrepreneur, having founded two companies in biotech and healthcare. Building on his experience as a founder, which offered him access to the innings of the industry, Dr. Fayad moved to the public sector where he last served as Assistant Deputy Minister for Health Investment Development at the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia before joining Tamer Healthcare, the largest healthcare conglomerate in Saudi Arabia, which has recently acquired Mumzworld. As we take a closer look at the space, some of the main themes underpinning the latter seem to be: 1) increase in consumer awareness, 2) interoperability, standardization, and integrability, 3) decentralization of care provision, 4) personalization in health and wellness. By and large, the most crucial transformation that has occurred is a complete shift in mindset on how we view healthcare, years in the making, and now being materialized through reforms to regulations in the space and multiple regional initiatives to optimize access to, and quality of healthcare, as well as through the companies we invest in. In our discussion with Dr. Fayad, he lays out the core principles driving healthcare forward in the region.
48 minutes | Jul 7, 2021
Episode 7 - Culture and Growth
The last couple of years, it seems, have witnessed a certain coming of age of the tech ecosystem in MENA, with founders moving on to their second ventures, operators launching their own companies, and a lot of movement within support organizations. Exits such as those of Careem and Mumzworld are bound to create trailblazing founder ‘mafias’ of their own, who will go on to launch the next Careem’s and Mumzworld’s of the region. Others will take on leadership positions in similar companies and leverage their unique expertise to grow them into the next success story. There is a tangible change of pace in investments as well, with rounds closing in close succession and companies growing at an unprecedented pace, made possible in part by a strengthened support infrastructure, improved regulations, but most of all, by a new generation of founders with incredible depth of experience and the teams they surround themselves with. In Episode 7 of The Nuwa Capital podcast, we had the pleasure of hosting Nathalie Spree, Partner at True Search, an executive search platform helping companies hire senior talent across the globe, and part of the Nuwa Network. With companies witnessing accelerated growth on one hand, and sourcing and hiring the right talent becoming increasingly challenging and competitive on the other, we wanted to pause on what it means to build the right team, best practices for hiring, what talent is looking for, and the real cost of poor company culture.
44 minutes | Jun 27, 2021
Episode 6 - Laying the foundations for Retail 3.0
In Ep. 6 of our podcast, Khaled Talhouni sat with Anass Boumediene and Mehdi Oudghiri to discuss eyewa from inception to Series B, a round Nuwa Capital co-led and which was announced today. When we launched Nuwa Capital, a key part of our thinking was to invest in companies building the next generation of retail where the online and offline experiences are seamlessly integrated and private label/own brands drive growth and differentiation. Eyewa, one of our first investments in 2020 as part of their pre-Series B, best exemplifies our thinking.
51 minutes | Jun 24, 2021
Episode 5 - Health and wellness are about to become much more consumer-centric
Sundeep Sahni and Nadin Karadag are part of a new generation of founders who have significant depth in their field, a stellar track record, and unparalleled drive and ambition. Sundeep is a third-time entrepreneur, having previously cofounded two businesses, both of which were acquired by Alibaba, Lazada. Nadin brings years of experience on the capital side through Growthgate Partners, and had also had a number of operational roles prior to that at large corporations. The cofounders conceived Valeo, a personalized health and wellness platform during the pandemic, and have just launched. Valeo’s mission is to democratize access to health and wellness, by offering services that had historically been reserved to athletes, or the affluent, through an innovative business model. We’ve recently invested in Valeo’s Seed round. An early-stage investment for us at Nuwa Capital, and one that is deeply rooted in our conviction in backing exceptional founders, especially ones who’ve previously built and scaled innovative businesses. Valeo is offering 15% discount off on its services - make sure to download the app and use promo code: "FeelYourBest"
29 minutes | Jun 8, 2021
Episode 4 - The evolution of marketplaces
Launched in 2020, Homzmart is an online furniture marketplace connecting consumers with manufacturers and sellers. The company found itself in a unique position since launch and throughout the pandemic, and navigated its way through growth of 30x in sales. The company, one of the fastest-growing companies we've seen, is helmed by Mahmoud Ibrahim and Ibrahim Mohamed - a new generation of seasoned founders who have previously played key roles in Daraz and Jumia. In this episode of our podcast, Sarah Abu Risheh and Homzmart founder Mahmoud Ibrahim discuss the main drivers behind marketplaces, where the furniture industry is heading, and how the founder saw the space change.
25 minutes | Mar 3, 2021
Episode 3 - Championing access to earned income
Launched in 2018, FlexxPay is a Saas-based employee financial wellness platform allowing companies to offer their employees access to already-earned income. Our deep conviction in FlexxPay stems from its robust model, and most importantly, its strong founding team, Michael Truschler and Charbel Nasr, and how they look at the space they’re operating in (the intersection of fintech and HR/productivity). In this episode of our podcast, we chat with Michael about the FlexxPay model, where the MENA region stands with regards to the changing nature of employment, and FlexxPay’s evolving value proposition for companies looking to preserve their most valuable asset, their team.
55 minutes | Aug 18, 2020
Episode 2 - Going against the grain: are valuations defying gravity?
Over the course of the past few months, company valuations have been making their way into any and all conversations around venture. Prior to COVID-19, the valuation trend line had been consistently going up, with new investor profiles eyeing the asset class and a subsequently decreased cost of capital for startups. Nuwa Capital’s Sarah Abu Risheh hosted Amjad Ahmad, managing partner at Precinct Partners, and Patrick Rogers, co-founder and CEO of Clara, for a discussion on the specific mechanisms of company valuations, high or low, and how they reflect on a business as well as their impact on future rounds.
68 minutes | Aug 18, 2020
Episode 1 - Ushering in the next generation of innovation in F&B
Over the last decade, the F&B industry has been on a transformational bend to meet growing consumer demand and changing habits, creating ripples across its whole value chain and forcing it to rethink end-to-end production and supply. The COVID-19 pandemic has put players across the industry to the test and further exposed the multiple inefficiencies currently undermining F&B as we know it, while a new generation of innovators in F&B has emerged as the driving force of the industry’s future. From sourcing to plating, this session covers how the F&B industry is recasting itself for a post-pandemic economic reboot. For more insight, make sure to read: https://nuwacapital.io/if-you-arent-in-over-your-head-how-do-you-know-how-tall-you-are/
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