Dubai-based seed-stage VC firm COTU Ventures launches first fund with $54m

Dubai-based seed-stage VC firm COTU Ventures launches first fund with $54m

Published: 27-02-2024 15:18:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 2190 | Tags:

COTU Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital (VC) firm based in Dubai, announced it has raised $54 million to invest in extraordinary founders in MENA when they are at the earliest stages of their startup journeys. COTU stands for Champions of the Underdog, a philosophy that embodies the firm's strategy, investing at the Pre-Seed and Seed stages, where founders are most underestimated.

Amir Farha, Founder, COTU Ventures: "I've been a part of the regional ecosystem since 2008, and it's come a long way since then. Saudi Arabia has opened up internationally, and governments have been driving policies and investment to activate the technology sectors of their local economies. We have a young and growing population of tech-savvy, digitally connected consumers with substantial spending power. When you combine all of this with remarkably low customer acquisition costs and some of the highest revenues per user, there has never been a better and more profitable time to invest in the region than today."

The new fund is sector-agnostic with a focus on identifying and supporting the brightest and most talented founders at the inception of their idea to post-product launch, typically investing between $500K to $1.5M as a first check. To date, the fund has invested in over 20 early-stage companies, including Huspy, the largest mortgage platform in the UAE (backed by Peak XV, Founders Fund and Fifth Wall), Supy, a UAE-based ResTech platform, MoneyHash, an Egyptian FinTech startup, and Sirdab, a leading storage and warehouse management solution in Saudi Arabia.

Naif Alzahri, Co-founder, Sirdab: "Our partnership with COTU Ventures has been a cornerstone of Sirdab's journey. Amir and the entire COTU team have contributed a wide array of expertise that has significantly enhanced our strategic, technical, and operational frameworks. Their unique approach to collaboration is rare to find, and it has cultivated an environment where one feels comfortable sharing insights and challenges that are typically only discussed within the confines of a founding team. This foundation of trust and mutual understanding not only highlights the extraordinary nature of our relationship with COTU but also makes us eternally grateful for their support."

COTU's unique approach is founded on the belief that a person's formative years provide an indication of their potential success as a founder. Through extensive, candid conversations that delve into a founder's history, probing not just into their professional endeavors but the life experiences and decisions that have shaped them to date, COTU is able to build trust and depth with founders, thereby enabling them to make effective investment decisions in the process. The firm also believes that the choices made at the beginning of a startup's life massively compound over time. This premise, along with the trust built through transparent, real conversations, allows COTU to surface key moments that the founder will face and actively arm them with the right resources, perspectives, and relationships to help make better decisions along the way.

Amir Farha, one of the pioneers of early-stage VC in the Middle East, who co-founded BECO Capital in 2012 and backed top startups including Careem (acquired by Uber for $3.1b), Property Finder (backed by General Atlantic), Kitopi and Fresha, founded COTU Ventures in 2021. In addition to Amir, the team of six includes Kayra YasaAhmad HammoudiNourhan AbdelaalAnthony Khoury, and Yusuf Saber. Collectively, the team brings unique value and perspective to early-stage entrepreneurs, especially those looking for support across go-to-market, fundraising, and hiring for key positions.

Sharif Elbadawi, CEO, Dubai Future District Fund: "We're proud to have backed a fund that's distinguished not only by its impressive portfolio but by the exceptional leadership and track record of its founding partner, Amir. Our confidence in Amir stems from his deep passion for supporting founders and his proven ability to find remarkable investment opportunities before anyone else. Over the past couple of years, COTU has established itself as a true advocate for entrepreneurs, earning widespread recognition as a champion of early-stage companies and the regional ecosystem as a whole. Amir's commitment and strategic foresight have been instrumental in our decision to invest in COTU's first fund, and we hope to continue our support in the future."

The new fund's limited partners include Lunate, Mubadala, Dubai Future District Fund, Arab Bank, Bupa KSA, and GPs from VCs, including Foundry Group, Tribe Capital, Stride, and several family offices.