Here's Our Manifesto
It’s a little something we wrote that will evolve with time, but it sets the tone for who we are, what we intend to do and how we operate.
We are on a mission to transform the culture of venture capital in the Middle East by setting the standard for others to follow. This isn’t ego talking. This is based on hearing what founders need and knowing our inner selves, and our values with depth, clarity, and conviction.
Our name says it all: we are the Champions Of The Underdog. We help people become extraordinary by showing them how to believe in themselves when they are at the loneliest, earliest, and most challenging parts of their journeys.
This is about being at the service of others; knowing that we are all on our own life journeys that when combined together; form part of a bigger mission; a higher purpose. Everything we do is around this mission.
We are small and we punch way above our weight.
We are a diverse group of people that are curious, passionate, and driven to make stuff happen. Each of us have our own superpowers and together we compound that value to help our founders.
We are a close-knit team that has a deep understanding of what we do well and what we don’t do well. We don’t claim to do everything right, but we do know how to help founders at the earliest stages, specifically in getting to product-market fit.
We trust each other and value each other’s opinions, bringing diversity into all our decision-making. This doesn’t slow us down. In fact, it strengthens us by bringing a range of perspectives and experiences to solving problems, making investment decisions, and supporting our founders.
We like to be the first institutional check in a company.
This is where true, long-lasting partnerships are formed and where we can play a major role in increasing the likelihood of the startup’s success.
Most mistakes can happen at the earliest stages, so we’d like to be there early enough to help you avoid them. That being said, we invest as early as Pre-Seed, mostly at Seed, and sometimes at Late Seed. We rarely enter at Series A because by then, the company will have many stakeholders to manage, and FOMO is at its highest point.
We don’t intend to invest in more than 25 portfolio companies per fund.
We are focused. We want to build depth with each of our founding teams, and really add value as they go from Seed to Series A and beyond.
We can write checks as small as $150k to as big as $2m initially, and we reserve more for follow-on, even when you need a little more time to figure things out.
We care about our region and see the Middle East as an underdog.
Historically filled with war and conflict, with very few people believing in its future. Today, times are changing faster than ever, and more incredible founders are building more ambitious companies across MENA.
For us, this means GCC, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, that’s where our network is strongest, and we are slowly widening this scope as we grow.
WHAT WE LOOK FOR.
We don’t follow rules, but we do have a preference to what we find interesting.
Don’t worry, it’s quite simple:
First and foremost, we back people. We know every founder is different, and we look for those with special attributes, unique to themselves but with the potential to be leveraged to create an outlier. It’s hard to assess that but it’s where we’ve honed in our skills. We spend most of our time determining this through many, open and candid conversations together.
Second, we look at markets. We like fragmented markets with low NPS scores. We like big markets that are growing fast. Big for us is anywhere from $500m+ but don’t hold us to that number. We also consider timing, to make sure that the fundamentals of the market and their stakeholders are ready to embrace the solution.
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT.
This isn’t necessarily about differences but rather what we care about and how we like to be.
Venture capital is about risk-taking; we take risks at the earliest stages and with serious conviction.
We’re not saying we’re the only ones, but we are saying that our standards are high when it comes to certain fundamentals of behavior.
WE ARE TRUE PARTNERS IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD.
We respect founders and we respect the founder’s journey.
This means we trust our founders, empower them, and provide them with a safe environment to experiment and grow.
No ego or power dynamics. It means challenging them with their decisions in a candid and open way and backing them in the tough times too. It also means giving and receiving feedback and listening to founder’s needs.
WE ARE PRE-FOMO.
We build conviction on people.
This ability needs time to foster as you have to see what success looks like enough times, and it is a unique skill that requires a deep understanding of people and the ability to build trust. Traction is nice, but not necessary, and we don’t wait for someone to lead. We lead.
WE ARE QUICK.
We don’t like wasting time.
We are fast and we know speed is important for a founder’s journey. Our size gives us the ability to collaborate on decisions and take them quickly. We say no fast, and we say yes fast, as long as we’ve all had a chance to meet the founder(s). Each partner holds their own conviction, but we ensure that diversity is brought to our process. If we had to set a time to term sheet, we would want to have one ready within 2 weeks from our initial meeting.
WE ARE USEFUL.
This continues to grow with time.
It all starts with building real and authentic relationships with our founders; one that allows for open, safe, and candid discussions. We like to have an active, regular rhythm of communication with our founders, and we strive to be the first port of call for when they have a challenge. That means we are heavily engaged, informed, and aligned with the happenings at the company. What we do well is focus on supporting our founders on strategy, fundraising, product, technology, and data science. It sounds like a lot, but it is our diversity that gives us this breadth and depth of expertise.
Here are some ideas of the things we love doing with our founders:
Being a sounding board for them on pressing challenges they are thinking through
Helping attract, identify, and interview C-level, product, and technical talent
Crafting a strong fundraising narrative, strategy and pitch to later stage investors
Discussing choices around product, tech stack and design
Helping prioritize work to focus what matters most
Supporting with access to follow-on capital and a wide investor network for later stage rounds
We focus on what matters. We know what we’re good at and we never take it for granted; instead, we build on it and challenge ourselves to constantly improve. We take feedback seriously and always strive to be better and more valuable partners to our founders.
WHAT WE STAND FOR.
The best VCs are the ones that are most self-aware.
They can empathize with founders, create the right dynamics, and help the founders grow into the best version of themselves. To understand yourself, you need to understand your values and that is what we focus on. We are a values-driven organization and have carefully crafted a set of principles that encompass our brand. We stand by them and follow them wholeheartedly. Here they are:
Genuine Care: We care deeply about our region, our companies, and our team. Everything we do is driven by an intrinsic desire to make a difference in the lives of people who are otherwise underestimated or who have tremendous potential and need a champion to help them realize it.
Doing The Right Thing: We will strive to identify and do the right thing. We will not go with the flow. We will not be swayed by resistance or hardship.
Effective Collaboration: We will collaborate effectively as partners, as a team and as an extended team through respect, honesty, empathy, candor, and explicit articulation of what we stand for and our ways of work.
Investing in Foundations: A world class product can only come off a world class production line. We favor building strong foundations for bigger wins tomorrow over superficial wins today.
Less is More: We can do anything but not everything. We are good at identifying the few things that truly matter and being laser focused on making them happen.
Problems, then Solutions: Impact is not measured by the cleverness of solutions, but by the value of the problems solved. Our actions including the choice of companies we invest in are guided by the depth and meaningfulness of the problems not by the flashiness of solutions.
Bias for Action: Speed matters. We take calculated risks. We do not freeze in the face of uncertainty. We are lean. We know that many decisions and actions are reversible.
All or Nothing: We only do things where we have serious conviction, and when that happens, we commit everything into it. We don’t hold back. We do it with our founders, our team, our investors, and our ideas. This is ingrained in our mindset, and it gives us focus and drive.
Commitment to Community: Money doesn’t drive us, impact does. We know that venture capital isn’t a zero-sum game, and we want to build our regional ecosystem alongside everyone. Whatever we do is built to last, scalable, and started from the ground up.