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Monday, 18 October 2021

Construction tech outfit Elmawkaa and mobile security startup MagicCube close rounds

Egyptian construction tech startup Elmawkaa has raised an undisclosed USD six-figure sum in a seed round led by Flat6Labs, with the participation of a group of Saudi investors from the OQAL Angel Investors network, the startup said in an emailed statement (pdf). The company is looking to onboard 2k suppliers and process 4k transactions worth USD 2 mn next year, CTO Mahmoud Habib said.

Local and regional expansion ahead: The company is planning to expand across the country and have a presence in all Egyptian cities by 2023, before setting its eyes on cross-border expansion to Saudi’s Riyadh the following year. Egypt’s building materials market is worth USD 17.5 bn — accounting for 30% of the sector in MENA — and is expected to grow to more than USD 62.3 bn by 2029, according to Habib.

What does Elmawkaa do? The company’s platform uses matching algorithms to help users buy and sell building materials, allowing customers to request quotations from suppliers before choosing the best bid. Founded in 2017, Elmawkaa was part of a 500 Startups accelerator in late 2019 and has since onboarded more than 1k suppliers and 4.5k contractors, facilitating sales of more than USD 1 mn. “We are not a listing or ordinary marketplace, we are digitizing and innovating the process of buying building materials,” said co-founder and CEO Ebrahem Anwar.

ALSO FROM PLANET STARTUP- California-based mobile security startup MagicCube — co-founded by Egyptians Sam Shawki and Nancy Zayed — raised USD 15 mn in a funding round led by Mosaik Partners, with the participation of Bold Capital, Epic Ventures, payments-hardware maker ID Tech and unnamed individual investors, TechCrunch reported.

The global chip shortage is good news for MagicCube: The company’s software-based mobile technology allows businesses to securely process payments, theoretically making security chips obsolete. “The chip shortage that is halting entire industries and hiking device prices has exposed how antiquated the current approach is and how valuable MagicCube’s solution is to tackle this issue — this round reflects that,” Shawki (LinkedIn) said.

Background: MagicCube has raised USD 30 mn to date since its debut in 2014, having previously secured two investments from Visa as well as backing from Azure Capital Partners, Epic Ventures, NTT Data, Silicon Valley Bank and the Sony Innovation Fund among others, according to TechCrunch. The company’s co-founders, CTO Zayed (LinkedIn) and Shawki, are an Egyptian power couple whose careers have taken them from an Egyptian startup to major tech companies including Apple and Netscape — back to a startup, this time in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Want to hear more about MagicCube? We sat down with Zayed and Shawki last year on our podcast, Making It, to learn how they went from building software in Egypt to working at tech companies that arguably changed the world (listen, runtime: 42:18).

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