Sharif El-Badawi and Hasan Haider, former managing partners of 500 Startups’ Falcons Fund, have founded and today launched Plus Venture Capital (+VC) and its $60M debut fund, focused on investing in early-stage tech startups in the MENA region and its diaspora. The fund will target 120 investments over the next 3 years.
Both Sharif and Hasan are veterans of the startup ecosystem. Having over 35 years of investing and operating experience combined, they have completed over 200 transactions in the region together. The firm’s managing partners have a wealth of knowledge and proven track records of helping portfolio companies achieve operational milestones and building global companies.
Hasan is an entrepreneur and former investment banker and has been investing in startups in MENA for the past 10 years. Prior to +VC, he worked in venture capital in Silicon Valley and MENA and established one of the first angel investment groups in the region.
Following the announcement, Hasan Haider commented, “We are excited to launch +VC with a differentiated investment thesis for the region. The aim of the firm is to invest in a broadly diversified portfolio of seed-stage startups, targeting 120 investments over the next 3 years. Our 5 year legacy of investing in MENA and global startups have helped us build deep personal networks for exceptional deal flow. Our thesis is designed to empower startups in the rapidly growing MENA economy. We intend to leverage our expertise and knowledge to positively impact the growth of the region’s burgeoning startup ecosystem.”
Sharif is a seasoned serial entrepreneur, operator, and investor, who brings 25 years of technology and growth experience to the firm. He serves as an advisor and member on several startup and non-profit boards.
He added, “With +VC we have the advantage of using our unique experience to do something a little different. With our team having worked and invested in many startups over the years, we can provide the right level of support to the founders that we invest in. Investment is just the first step, beyond that our founders can expect deep support from experienced practitioners from around the world and access to a unique network of operators, mentors, and investors.
“We are building a thriving community of startups to support each other and increase the adoption of international standards and best practices. We look forward to partnering with extraordinary and innovative entrepreneurs to help build successful businesses and contribute to a vibrant regional economy.”
The MENA region is fast emerging as a key startup ecosystem, having seen several recent exits including the $3B acquisition of Careem by Uber in 2019 and the acquisition of Souq by Amazon in 2017. Although the market is still nascent, it is growing rapidly with funding and exits increasing year over year, indicating the tremendous opportunity for early investment that +VC is positioned to capitalize on. In H1 2020, the region witnessed $659M invested in MENA-based startups, which is already 95% of total funding full-year 2019.