Name: Plus Venture Capital
Location: Abu Dhabi
Size: $60 million
What It Is: Founded by former Google executive Sharif El-Badawi and Hasan Haider, a self-described “reformed investment banker,” Plus Venture Capital will invest in tech and tech-enabled companies in the Middle East and North Africa and worldwide, in companies led by people in the MENA diaspora. For the past five years, the duo have been running 500 Falcons, the Middle East fund in the 500 Startups global family of funds. 500 Falcons, a $33 million fund, made 180 investments in three years and has an IRR of 15-20%. The team wanted to consider a bigger fund that could make larger seed fund investments and see investee companies through their Series A rounds. At the same time, the 500 Startups parent, Badawi said, wanted to make more of those larger early stage investments from the San Francisco office. That led to a split. El-Badawai and Haider will continue to manage the 500 Falcons fund on a part-time basis.
Minimum Investment: $1 million; the team has commitments for about one-third of the $60 million.
Investment Style/What Makes The Fund Different: An Egyptian-American, El-Badawai has deep connections in Silicon Valley, having been a serial tech entrepreneur. He was a director at Google, part of a team responsible for $16 billion in ad sales before being named to an entrepreneur mentorship role within Google, which eventually led to his involvement in the burgeoning venture capital scene in the Middle East and North Africa. His family had roots there, but he’d grown up as an American. “Entrepreneurship in the Middle East can help combat extremism,” he said. “If we can fix the job situation, it can level the playing field here.” Haider set up the first angel investment network in Bahrain, according to his online biography. The team–the firm is hiring–plans to make $250,000 seed round investments and A rounds up to $2 million. Part of their focus is the evolution of a professional venture capital industry within MENA. “Seed stage companies in MENA are piecemealing their funding. It’s not doing them any favors,” El-Badawi said. “Not all the companies were progressing fast enough to reach meaningful milestones for Series A.”
Quote: “This is a movement and a mission,” says El-Badawai. “Tech and venture capital have created whole economies.”