Neighbourhood app start-up will use the funding to cement its local market hold ahead of MENA expansion
UAE-based start-up Hayi has raised $325,000 in its latest funding round led by Sarya Holdings, a privately-owned conglomerate in Dubai, and Egypt’s Falak Startups, with participation of key angel investors.
The young duo told Arabian Business they will use the funding to solidify Hayi’s presence in the UAE and grow it further ahead of their launches across the MENA region.
Founded in 2020 by childhood friends Chris Darnell and Rene Morgan, the app is a hyperlocal social network that digitises neighbourhoods in the UAE by connecting all neighbours, local businesses, and community managers to create stronger and more connected communities.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Darnell and Morgan discuss their funding journey and the lessons learned along the way.
How did you approach and prepare for your funding journey?
We bootstrapped Hayi until we could develop and prove that our various organic channels would help us grow to reach critical mass for the social network whilst maintaining low acquisition costs.
Being a young pre-revenue social network, it was imperative that we could formulate a go-to-market strategy that could scale quickly and organically, without breaking the bank. Once implemented, we set out to establish new partnerships and operate within select neighbourhoods across Dubai to examine how neighbours, businesses and community managers would interact within their hyperlocal digital environment.
Following this, we reached out primarily to investors that we believed had a similar vision for the UAE and that could strategically support us in scaling within the region.
What were you looking for in the VCs- angel investors that would support you?
We were looking primarily for two things: market access and international exposure.
Support in market access allows us to expand our network for potential partnerships that can significantly boost our user acquisition and overall adoption within local communities. We are always on the lookout for collaborations that can bring value to a community, and having our investors help in opening doors gives us the ability to focus fully on our value proposition and how our proposed partnership can disrupt the market.
Furthermore, having an investor on-board who has a broader network across the MENA region, in particular the countries we will be looking to expand to, really helps when it comes to entering and scaling quickly in a new market. We ended up being extremely fortunate to welcome our new investors to the company and will use them as an example for the type of investors we would love to work with in future.
What were the biggest challenges in your funding journey and what did you learn from them?
One of the biggest challenges we faced in our funding journey was the amount of time that is required for the fundraising process. Arranging cold/warm investor meetings, pitch deck refinement, pitching, travelling, all takes away from the time that can be spent on scaling the business. Since the team has now grown, we are confident that we can conduct our next raise without compromising on growth.
What will the funds raised be used for?
This round was raised to support us in scaling our first market, the UAE, before making strategic entrances into various MENA markets.
A portion has been assigned for additional product development whilst majority of the funds have gone towards expanding our presence across the UAE through on boarding local businesses, developing our partnerships with community managers and towards mass marketing campaigns for neighbours across the country.
Photo Courtesy: Waya, Arabian Business
Source: Arabian Business