Saudi startup Retailo closes $9mln in seed funding

Retailo’s strong growth trajectory coupled with rapid regional expansion attracted seasoned global investors

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. Seed funding or seed stage funding is a very early investment which aims at helping a business grow and generating its own capital. Also referred to as seed money or seed capital, investors often get equity stake in exchange for the capital invested.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Seed funding or seed stage funding is a very early investment which aims at helping a business grow and generating its own capital. Also referred to as seed money or seed capital, investors often get equity stake in exchange for the capital invested.

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Saudi Arabia - Only nine months into operations, Retailo has successfully closed a $6.7 million seed investment round, the largest seed capital raised by a Saudi startup. This brings the total investments raised by Retailo, the fastest growing B2B services platform in MENAP (Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan), to $9 million. Retailo’s pre-seed funding of $2.3 million in October 2020 led by Shorooq Partners, was also the largest ever pre-seed round raised by a Saudi startup.

Headquartered in Riyadh, Retailo was founded in 2020 by former Careem leaders Talha Ansari, Muhammad Nowkhaiz and Wahaj Ahmed. These seasoned startup executives have played pivotal roles in scaling Careem, Foodpanda and Daraz while Retailo’s senior leadership comprises of a diverse mix of people with experience from Careem, McKinsey, Rocket Internet, Amazon, Ebay, Dubizzle, Daraz and Foodpanda. Collectively, Retailo’s senior management has decades of experience of launching and growing businesses in seven countries in the MENAP region.

In just a few months, the company has already expanded to two key markets in the MENAP region and is set to become a major regional player in the B2B e-commerce space. Today, Retailo serves tens of thousands of retailers, has thousands of SKUs in its portfolio and a growing team of more than 400.

Retailo’s founding team has always been keen on partnering with strategic investors that can add value beyond capital and support their ambitious journey. Shorooq Partners, lead for both record-breaking rounds, as part of their leading early-stage MENA focused mandate, is strongly committed to the team and their B2B services platform investment thesis. Along with the UK’s Abercross Holdings which is backed by Saudi family offices, Silicon Valley’s AgFunder, and Middle East-based Arzan Venture Capital, Retailo’s seed round brings together a strong investor base with deep regional roots and a strong global reach. Along with institutional investors, key individual investors also include Junaid Iqbal, former MD of Careem Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, who also serves as an adviser to the Retailo team.

Retailo’s strong growth trajectory coupled with rapid regional expansion attracted seasoned global investors. Issam Hamid, managing partner of Abercross Holdings, said: “Abercross is pleased to partner with the Retailo team in building a modern, efficient, technology-led supply chain across the Middle East and Pakistan region, which will bring real benefits to hundreds of thousands of consumers and small retailers.”

Michael Dean, founding partner, AgFunder, was equally excited about investing in Retailo. He said: “Informal retail is an extremely large market that is the backbone of employment and consumer spending in the MENAP region. We were impressed by the Retailo team’s blend of experience and domain expertise and their ability to leverage technology to build a compelling and fast-growing B2B e-commerce marketplace to service these markets.” Retailo co-founder Talha Ansari said: “With this investment, Retailo is geared for hyper-growth to rapidly build on what we have already achieved in a short time. The current round of $6.7 million will not only help us expand our existing verticals across MENAP but also build new, much-needed technology products for the highly underserved SME market and bring us closer to achieving our grand vision of unlocking the earning potential of 10 million SMEs.”

Retailo is the only regional player in the B2B services space of MENAP that has operations in the Kingdom and Pakistan, offering an FMCG wholesale marketplace with warehousing solutions. There is a conscious ethos of solving a huge problem for MENAP. The retail industry contributes around 20 percent of the GDP of countries in the region. By making supply chains more efficient and empowering and unlocking the earning potential of 10 million SME retailers, Retailo aims to have an outsized impact on the economy of the entire region. Retailo’s mission is crystal clear: Simplify retail by using cutting-edge technology and increasing access by making complex supply chains beautifully uncomplicated, streamlined and efficient.

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