The Nuwa Capital podcast Nuwa Capital
Episode 20 - When it all goes wrong: lessons from Jeeran, Part 1
Before moving over to the investing side, Arzan.vc's Laith Zraikat was the cofounder of Jeeran.com along along with Omar Koudsi. Jeeran, founded in 2000, was one of MENA's earliest and at some stage most trafficked and valuable digital businesses in the region. The company started out as a free hosting platform and eventually evolved into a regional blogging platform and then after an additional pivot, into a reviews site which ultimately proved to be unsuccessful.
I met Laith Zraikat early in my career in 2008. At the time, I was an Associate at Accelerator Technology Holdings - the pre-cursor to Silicon Badia a regional VC. Jeeran was one of the earliest companies I got exposed to as a VC and I had, for a brief period, the privilege of working with one of the leading businesses in the region and learning from both founders on scaling a business.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Laith on the history of Jeeran, its development from an idea into a regional powerhouse and then its ultimate unraveling. Laith and I go over the many lessons learned from the Jeeran journey that serve as a cautionary tale to both founders and VCs.
- Khaled Talhouni
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.
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.
#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.
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.
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.