Leading angels join local and global investors in expanding the Middle East’s fastest growing local platform.
500 Startups, the Silicon Valley-based venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator that helps grow startups and get them on track to success, has investments in over 20 countries, and just announced its first in the Arab World, one it hopes will be of many.
The start up is the local reviews site Jeeran, a reviews platform based in Jordan covering several cities in the emerging world with focus on Saudi Arabia and Jordan at this point. With tens of thousands of reviews and hundreds of thousands of local listings, Jeeran helps people better interact with places in their cities. It is a platform that is local, mobile, and social.
Due to the community-based and local nature of Jeeran’s core business, the company keeps a strong “offline” presence in its markets, maintaining hands-on engagement with local communities and business owners to facilitate data acquisition. In doing so, Jeeran is breaking new ground on how consumers and local businesses behave and interact in the emerging world, a transformative service for the fast emerging small, medium, and large enterprises and public services in emerging markets. Specifically, the majority of over a quarter million places listed on Jeeran had no online presence previously. Additionally, Jeeran’s introduction of online customer reviews is driving unprecedented consumer empowerment and engagement in emerging regions, as consumers finally have a place to voice their opinions on the businesses they deal with day-to-day.
The investment from 500 Startups will help connect Jeeran to over 160 mentors around the world, whom Jeeran intends to leverage as it continues to scale and improve its services. Omar Koudsi, Co-founder of Jeeran says “Jeeran is looking forward to collaborating with 500 Startups to help develop its internal capabilities, and will be sending some of our team members to train in Silicon Valley, where 500 Startups is based”. David Mcclure founder of 500 Startups, is enthusiastic “We’re super excited about Jeeran and its proposition to the emerging world, We’re ready to blow up startups in the MENA region ”.
Other investors that took part in this round are Fadi Ghandour, the founder of Aramex, and Rabie Ataya, the founder of Middle East recruitment platform Bayt.com. They join Accelerator Technology Holdings, Intel Capital, and Seedcamp among others as investors. This round comes as part of preparing Jeeran for an aggressive expansion strategy across the Arab World and Asia in the coming year.
From its start, Jeeran began bringing the offerings of the web to the Arab audience, it has since then served hundreds of thousands of members. In 2010, Jeeran set out to become a platform for expression through reviews of places in over 17 cities, aggregating not only the data, which in the emerging world 80% is not online, but also the opinion of locals on local businesses. Jeeran also leverages the revolution of mobile to serve users including maps, opening hours, and near me places.