Yaoota.com secures largest investment from GCC for Egyptian tech startup

Yaoota.com secures largest investment from GCC for Egyptian tech startup.
Yaoota.com secures largest investment from GCC for Egyptian tech startup.
Abu Dhabi-based KBBO Group recently made the largest investment in an Egyptian technology startup to date with a $2.7 million investment in Yaoota.com, money, says CEO and cofounder Sherif ElRakabawy, that will be partially used to expand to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, capitalizing on the fact that the small emirate has the best infrastructure in place for the market with the highest Internet, mobile device and payment card penetration. 

“There are more people used to buying things online in the UAE and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “In terms of e-commerce they are the most developed in the region. Also, the average of one or more sale is higher, so there is more economic strength.”

According to Dublin based Research and Markets, the UAE has led the growth in e-commerce in the past years.

Saudi Arabia follows close behind, with an especially high number of mobile commerce activity. More than two thirds of online purchases done in the country last year were via smartphones.

According to the recent State of Payments report released by payment gateway Payfort electronics, entertainment and fashion are the largest e-commerce sectors in the Arab World. ElRakabawy was one of those consumers when he came up with Yaoota.com.

“I saw a lot of stores go online,” he said. “But, it was increasingly difficult to find the best price for what I was looking for. There isn’t a lot of variety in Egypt, so you can find the same products from different places.”

ElRakabawy, then an employee at Booz & Company developed the prototype for Yaoota.com in his free time. The technology would simply use an algorithm to explore an e-commerce site’s products. It would then pull relevant information and display that product alongside other similar products from Egyptian online stores.

Today, Yaoota has 80 stores registered in its network, a five-fold increase from when they launched last year in June 2014. The site makes 90 percent of its profits from sending clicks to relevant merchants, similar to Google’s business plan.

At first Yaoota was self-funded, but at the end of last year they got in touch with investors at KBBO Group and over the year negotiated an investment. Something that would have been unheard of just a few short years ago.

“This is a time of relative stability compared to recent years,” ElRakabawy said. “It’s been better than last year. But, everything you are seeing in terms of investments is a consequence of talks last year.”

Just last month the first large-scale investment in a technology startup was announced with the investment of $1.7 million in online recruitment job site WUZZUF. Yaoota’s investment is the first to come from the GCC.