Top 5 Most Funded Startups of 2023

Top 5 Most Funded Startups of 2023 

Thought Leadership

A round of applause for the five UAE companies that nabbed the most funding in 2023.

2023 wasn’t an easy year for UAE founders hoping to raise money for their company.

By the end of November, venture funding had dipped 57% to $371 million, the number of investment deals had contracted by 30%, no unicorn had emerged, and only 20 exits were recorded, according to Magnitt’s Q3 MENA Venture Investment Report (see more in our 2023 year in review). 

Yet, the year wasn’t all grim for those who managed to attract the money they so need to grow – mostly in the Fintech arena. For some, it was even a groundbreaking moment. Here are the five most funded UAE companies of 2023.

1. Tabby

Shopping and financial services app Tabby, founded in 2019 by Hosam Arab, had quite a year, starting in January with a $58 million Series C round from Sequoia Capital India, STV, PayPal Ventures (in its first funding of a GCC company), Mubadala Investment Capital, Arbor Ventures, and Endeavor Catalyst.

In May, a new financing round resulted in the upsizing of its debt facility to $350 million, double its last debt-raising announcement. Key global credit investors, led by San Francisco-based Partners for Growth (PFG), participated.

Then, in November, Tabby became the region’s first Fintech unicorn by nabbing $200 million in a Series D round led by Wellington Management, with the participation from Bluepool Capital on top of its existing investors. This successful round took its value to over $1.5 billion ahead of its planned IPO in Saudi Arabia where it relocated this winter.

And in December, not only did it secure up to $700 million in receivables securitisation from JP Morgan – the largest asset-backed facility secured by a fintech in MENA – but Hassana Investment Company, Soros Capital Management, and Saudi Venture Capital joined as equity investors, extending its Series D round to $250 million.

The company, which works with over 30,000 brands and currently boasts 10 million users, will use its new financing to serve the accelerating demand for its flagship buy-now, pay-later offering, which now manages over $6 billion in annualised transaction volume. 

2. Xpanceo

In October, deep tech startup Xpanceo, founded in 2021 by Valentyn S. Volkov and Roman Axelrod, raised a $40 million seed round led by Hong Kong-based Opportunity Ventures.

Volkov is a Ukrainian scientist and Axelrod is an experienced entrepreneur with three previous exits in the bag. Xpanceo develops the next generation of computing via an invisible and weightless smart contact lens. These new funds will serve to accelerate the company’s plans to launch its next prototype – contact lenses with AR vision features. “We are targeting, at least, the $790 billion Augmented Reality and Contact Lenses market, and creating the first device in the market that will allow us to use all apps and software in a single contact lens interface,” said Volkov in a statement. 

3. Tarabut

Founded in Bahrain in 2019 by Abdulla Almoayed and based in the UAE since 2020, Fintech Tarabut (formerly Tarabut Gateway) has closed in May a $32 million Series A round led by Pinnacle Capital, with participation from Aljazira Capital, Visa, Tiger Global, and other investors. Tarabut had previously raised a seed round of $13 million in February 2021, followed by a pre-Series A round of $12 million led by Tiger Global in November of the same year.

The open banking platform connects regional banks and Fintech via a universal API. This funding will boost its footprint in the Saudi market – where it has achieved over 60% market coverage through partnerships with leading banks – by attracting top talent and fostering strategic partnerships within the kingdom. Tarabut is building an open banking infrastructure across Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, with plans for further MENA expansion. 

4. Flow48

Fintech Flow48 announced in November a $25 million pre-Series A round, comprising a mix of equity and debt, with investors Speedinvest, Daphni, 212, Blockchain Founders Fund, Unpopular Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, and TLG, as well as angel investors such as Scott Sandell from NEA. 

Flow48, founded in 2022 by Idriss Al Rifai, aims to address the challenges SMEs face in securing working capital financing, thanks to a platform offering real-time functionality and seamless integration with major ERP providers, payment gateways, and e-commerce platforms. Committed to ESG principles, Flow48 prioritises SMEs that drive positive environmental impact and that are owned by minorities and women. This new financing will accelerate its strategic expansion plans into South Africa.

5. Qlub

In March, Fintech Qlub raised a $25 million round co-led by existing investors, including Cherry Ventures and Point Nine, with participation from STV, Raed Ventures, Heartcore, Shorooq Partners, FinTech Collective, and angel investors.

This fresh funding brought the company’s total seed capital to $42 million; it will be used to fuel growth and develop new services for its existing customers. Founded in 2021 by Arun Sharma, Eyad Alkassar, Filiberto Pava, Gizem Bodur, Mahmoud Fouz, John Mady, Jeff Matsuda, Oscar Bedoya, and Ramy Omar, Qlub offers payment solutions for restaurants, enabling customers to order food and pay their bills at the table by scanning a QR code with their phones. It serves over 2,000 restaurants across six countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore.

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