The DNA of a Successful MENA Start Up
MAGNiTT, the largest online engagement platform for startups across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) recently released a research on the top 100 funded startups in the MENA region.
The study reveals that over $1.42BN in funding was successfully raised by the startups with a record year investment of only $80m+. And with the knowledge that each startup has raised more than half a million dollars individually, the company dug deep to find out what makes these entrepreneurs so successful in their respective fields.
Education and experience
It only seems natural that the very backbone of a booming business is experience. We’re not just talking about the highs of the journey but the lows as well; after all, experience is a healthy mix of successes and failures. MAGNiTT’s research shows that founders of the top 100 funded startups in MENA had an average nine years of experience before they decided to start their companies and break new grounds. This is three years longer than US entrepreneurs who, on average, only accumulated six years’ worth of experience before jumping in on the world of e-commerce.
Key points that emphasize the importance of experience can be seen through the following data pulled from the research:
– 41% of the startup founders are MBA graduates of Harvard, INSEAD, and LBS
– 35% of founders previously had startup experiences in the region with Yahoo Maktoob, Dubizzle, Bayt,, and Zawya alumni making up 8% of the top 100 MENA startup founders.
Of course, at the end of the day, the triumph of a business is defined by how a founder manages cost and revenue, it’s not surprising that 35% of founders came from Management Consulting and Banking Backgrounds. However, founders of the top 100 startups in MENA seem to lean more towards a technical background with 48% of them having graduated with IT or Engineering degrees which seems fitting since 48% of the startups are in the E-commerce, Fintech, and Technology industry.
As MAGNiTT founder Philip Bahoshy said, “The data highlights that founders in the region have often come from corporate backgrounds. This indicates that the experience and knowledge provides them with the tools to tackle and overcome such issues.”
When it comes to organizational structure, 79% of successful MENA startups are founded by an average 1 or 2 people. Most startups are built by male founders, making 88% of the total, just a few points higher from global averages (Europe with 85%, U.S. with 83%).
This means that MAGNiTT found out that out of the top 100 funded startups, only 12% are founded by females, a few points lower than global averages (Europe with 15%, U.S. with 17%). Insydo, Designer 24, and Sprii are some of the notable MENA startups led to success by female founders.
Any entrepreneur knows that location is one of the crucial factors that contribute to the success of a startup. And in this digital age, this term is not just about geography anymore but also about where in the world of web you are visible. MAGNiTT’s study revealed that from the 100 startup founders in MENA, 68% originate from the Middle East, which means only 32% are from the North Africa region.
While 38% of the startup founders are from Jordan and Lebanon, it is interesting to know that only 16% of the startups are headquartered there. On the contrary, only 1% of founders are UAE nationals but the country is home to 50% of MENA’s top funded startups.
We can see from MAGNiTT’s report that founders of MENA’s successful startups became the driving force of each of their companies through years of acquiring the necessary knowledge, skill, and experience. They are experts in their own respective fields, giving them the ability to turn issues or problems into challenges and opportunities