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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.

Top 100 MENA Start Ups

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.”

Team Composition

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%).

Top Female Entrepreneurs MENA

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.

Start Up Locations MENA

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


State of Social Media Report

Think back to a time before Facebook and other social media, can you remember how you navigated the internet? In those days, we bet you did a lot more searching and rarely (if ever) encountered friends or followers online.

Today social media has transformed the internet in a way very few people expected. How we interacted with content and each other on the web looks nothing like the early 2000’s. The simple, personal, and (let’s be honest) addictive nature of social media has led to an explosion of users and dozens of new social platforms for us to express ourselves.

The MENA region is no exception to this trend. People across the region have embraced social media in a way that has dramatically transformed the region. Millions of active users and billions of hours spent navigating content has turned social media into the largest advertising platform for brands and businesses in the region.

We’ve witnessed first-hand the impact social media has had on the region and we know how important understanding this new technology is for businesses. That’s why we are excited to share State of Social report powered by Crowd Analyzer and a partnership between PAYFORT and Hootsuite, the region’s most comprehensive report on social media trends.

The report was prepared to create a complete overview on social trends in region’s largest countries. We hope that with this report at your reach, you will have the tools and expertise needed to not only navigate, but excel in the rapidly evolving world of social media.

The report is broken into 4 sections with information for everyone from social influencers to data heads.

Social Media Statistic

This section covers everything you need to know about three of the region’s biggest social media populations; The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Want to know how many Gen Xers are using social media or maybe smartphone usage? Then this section is for you!

Social Media Statistic Egypt

2016 Trends: Topics and Brands that Stood Out

Give this section a read if you want to understand what mattered on social media in 2016. You’ll find insights about trending topics, the 2016 US election, and how platforms are evolving to take advantage of new media to expand.

2016 Trends: Topics and Brands that Stood Out

Social Intelligence for Your Sector

For those that are listening, social media can tell you a lot about your business and your sector. Consumer’s voice concerns every second on social media and knowing what they’re saying can give you a leg up on competitors.

Social Intelligence for Your Sector

Expert Predications

Want to know what the future holds? This section is the next best thing to a crystal ball. Full of insight from some of the region’s most influential business leaders, you’ll find everything you need to succeed in 2017 here.

Expert Predications

Download the Report Now


The complete State of Social report is available now right here, so be sure to head over and Download it. And if you’re looking for more great news about MENA region trends be sure to follow @PAYFORT on twitter.

Trends Shaping the Middle East in 2017

In 2016, the Middle East saw noticeable growth in its IT, technology, and telecom sectors.

In addition to this growth, large scale projects such as the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Hyperloop and Morocco’s enormous concentrated solar plant show that the Middle East’s technology industries are dreaming big and confident in the region’s potential.

In this post we will be sharing several trends that will impact the region in 2017 and the coming years.


Mobile and Internet of Things Make Strides

A recent report released by GSMA showed that the mobile industry generated over $150 billion to the Middle East and North African economies last year. They also anticipate that this figure will continue to increase in the coming years reaching nearly $200 billion by 2020.

Meanwhile, mobile voice-activated technologies such as Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri emerged as the dominant interface for smart homes and other hands free technologies. Expect voice to see considerable expansion throughout 2017, especially as more languages are introduced and optimized.

On the roads, you can expect to see the effects of autonomous vehicles on transportation across the region. The rollout will be limited at first, but the infrastructure is already starting to grow enabling more connectivity and data sharing within the autonomous vehicle industries.


Private Messaging Takes on Social Media

2016 saw the shift from public social media to private messaging services like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

There are several reasons as to why social media is being used less and less for communication, but privacy is certainly a big one. Many people say the public nature of social networks puts them under too much social pressure. Private messaging apps allow for more meaningful conversations away from the burden to show off how ‘amazing’ your life is.

While this may be better for consumers, this shift will impact marketers in a big way. Brands will need to rethink their whole approach to digital marketing as this trend continues, both in terms of the content they produce and how they can encourage meaningful organic conversations.


Egypt Technology Sector Starts to Recover

In Egypt, a number of innovative platforms, both local and regional, are reshaping the way people work in the country.

The taxi service Careem is growing rapidly and has secured substantial funding to keep that grow going. GetMumm has transformed the ways cooks can connect with potential customers. Tutorama is expanding education and providing new ways for students to get additional support in virtually any subject.

All these platforms are changing the definition of what it means to work and be employed all while creating innovative opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people.

What trends do you think will shape 2017? Are there any major ones that we missed? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll do our best to incorporate them into our upcoming posts. And if you’re looking for more information be sure to follow us on Twitter.