After four years operating primarily as a logistics marketplace, Egypt’s Voo changed its name to Upwards and transformed its strategy to offer a full spectrum of eCommerce support services, including payment gateways, API integration for shipping, warehousing, fulfillment, and consulting.
The startup has also expanded to Saudi Arabia, where it will be based from now on, after raising seed funding of $1.2 million. This latest round saw the participation of Launch Africa VC, 500 Global, Riyadh Angels, Alex Angels, Al Tuwaijri Fund and Saudi angel investor Faisal Al-Abdulsalam.
Founder and CEO of SideUp Ripped Waleed he told TechCrunch that he was inspired to link small merchants to e-commerce support after realizing they were being ignored by large service providers.
“There is a lot of talk about how e-commerce is scaling, but still, we are not sufficiently empowering (micro, small and medium-sized companies) that sell online. Merchants need a lot of services and a complete ecosystem to be successful,” said Rashed.
“That is why I decided to empower small and medium-sized companies; SideUp is for the merchants of the town or for those who sell products through Instagram, Facebook or WhatsApp. They get access to all the services, from the courier company, to storage and fulfillment, to marketing services,” he said.
Rashed first ventured into the business world in 2012, after a career in banking, when he founded Ingez, an errand company that gave him first-hand experience running an e-commerce business.
“Over the four years I understood a lot about logistics, operations and e-commerce. I saw how small businesses, because they lacked volume, were not a priority for the big logistics companies,” said Rashed, who after leaving Ingez, founded SideUp to address the challenges small businesses face and help them scale. .
SideUp’s partner service providers allow merchants to sell in 45 countries, which Rashed says has opened up new markets that were previously inaccessible to small businesses.
SideUp currently serves 2,000 e-commerce companies, who can also access the cash and credit collection service to expand their business. His portfolio has grown 30% month-over-month, reaching a gross merchandise volume of over $500,000 per month.
Riyadh Angels Co-Founder Dr. Khalid Al Tawil said: “E-commerce remains fragmented in most of the region, creating a number of challenges for business owners. SideUp’s platform is a huge step forward, giving them a single place to access partners and technology to grow their business exponentially. We are excited to see them come to Saudi Arabia and support the companies in their next phase of growth.”
The startup now plans to grow its customer base by scaling up in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and expanding to at least two other countries before the end of 2023, to take advantage of the booming e-commerce sector in different regions.
The Middle East and Africa e-commerce markets will grow above 11.5% over the next five years, sustained by internet and smartphone penetration, urbanization and mobile shopping, and as more businesses embrace commerce email, according to Mordor Intelligence. report.