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From Tech to Hospitality: The Most Promising Startups Fueling Saudi Arabia’s Growth in 2023

by Khurram Shahzad

Saudi Arabia is rapidly becoming a hub of entrepreneurial innovation, with a wide variety of start-ups emerging in diverse sectors. In this article, we explore some of the fastest-growing start-ups in Saudi Arabia in 2023, including PayTabs, UTURN Entertainment, Morni, FalconViz, Orderme, Ayah Studios, Acadox, and Yatooq.

  1. PayTabs

PayTabs is a company founded by Abdulaziz Fahad Aljouf in 2013 that provides a payment processing platform to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country. PayTabs is the first Saudi company that offers business-to-business e-commerce solutions to SMEs. The company has developed game-changing mobile applications for businesses in multiple sectors, including transportation, travel, airline, education, government, hospitality, and finance. PayTabs offers a platform for safe online transactions through these applications, which has helped link the multi-billion dollar enterprises in Saudi Arabia. Several private and public enterprises in the country have invested in this venture, including Angel Investment and Saudi Aramco’s Waxed. The company raised approximately $16.5 million in investment.

  1. UTURN Entertainment

UTURN Entertainment is a media production company founded by Kaswara Al-Khatib in 2011. UTURN is a digital production company that offers Arabic video content. The company started by producing original Youtube shows, including Eysh Elly, 3al6ayer, Noon Alniswa, Ana W Heya, and Aldor Al3asher. The company started creating and aggregating online video content after the first batch of its shows. The target audience of the content produced by this business includes the Arab population worldwide, especially from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and UAE. UTURN has developed its reputation as the largest multi-channel network (MCN) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Leap Ventures is the key investor in this business, with the investment reaching approximately $10 million.

  1. Morni

Morni is an on-demand roadside assistance services company founded by Salman Al-Suhaibaney in 2014. Morni has designed and developed several smart solutions that it offers to its clients. The company is operating to automate all road logistics, reduce human interference, and backup procedures. The business claims to be the one-stop solution to logistical challenges faced by corporations in Saudi Arabia. The key roadside solutions offered by Morni include towing and rescue services, tire services, battery services, petrol services, and locksmithing services. In addition, the company offers solutions for delivering and receiving vehicles countrywide, including loading and unloading services. The company operates in the services sector. The company’s key investors include 500 Startups and Raed Ventures, with an investment of around $1.1 million.

  1. FalconViz

FalconViz is a 3D aerial survey and mapping company founded by Mohamed Shalaby, Luca Passione, Neil Smith, and Anas Dahlawi in 2015. The company uses an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) with autonomous integration of 3D software solutions, helicopters, and planes. FalconViz Drone is one of this company’s key innovations that facilitates delivering high-quality surveying and mapping services according to its clients’ tailored needs. The company was founded by the students of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The company operates in the technology sector. The key investors of the company include Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed and KAUST Innovation Fund (grant).

  1. Orderme

Orderme is a food delivery business founded by Mohammad Al-Abdulqadir in 2014. The company offers high-quality technology solutions that integrate seamlessly with the current point-of-sale (POS) of small independent restaurants and the largest diners in Saudi Arabia. Smartphone users can download the OrderMe application from App Stores on their smartphones. Based on its services, OrderMe operates in the logistics sector. The company’s key investors include Khalid Almoayed & Sons and Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed, with an investment of around $1 million.

  1. Ayah Studios

Ayah Studios is a mobile game-developing company founded by Sami Alsaif and Salem Alanzi in 2014. The business has expertise in developing culturally relevant games in Saudi Arabia. The founders of the business realized that the Arabic gaming market is huge yet unaddressed because none of the other mobile game developing companies is developing games relevant to the Arabic culture. The idea proved to be very effective, and the games developed by this business gained popularity quickly. The key investor of this business is Qotuf AlRiyadah/Flat6Labs, Jeddah. The business operates in the online business and technology sector.

  1. Acadox

Acadox is an online services business for provides innovative learning solutions. The business was founded by Mohammad Alhareeqi, Mustafa Nabulsi, and Nedal Mourad in 2010. Acadox has raised a total of $742.5K in funding over 1 round in 2010

The business uses a high-tech approach through which the students can manage their academic and social life in an efficient, secure, and simple manner. The business uses a combination of services and tools through which the students can reach their learning goals and maximize their academic outcomes. Acadox uses cloud-based applications that help reduce the information technology (IT) cost helps the business in enhancing the teaching and learning experience. The key investors of the business include KAUST Innovation Fund and STC Ventures.

  1. Yatooq

Yatooq is an Arabic coffee-making business founded by Lateefa Alwaalan in 2011. The business specializes in making Arabic Coffee and Maamoul. The business has developed expertise in making coffee products according to the liking of the Saudi people. The company uses only natural ingredients and processing techniques to enhance the flavours and deliver the right blends. The products of the company are available in all supermarkets in the country, and the customers can purchase the products online through an e-commerce platform developed by the company. Yatooq is a self-funded business, and the founder started the business with an investment of around $100,000.

  1. Abi Sayara

Abi Sayara is an online business selling new and used cars. The business was founded by Niko Ruokosuo in 2010. The business maintains an inventory of the most up-to-date and greatest new and used cars. Abi Sayara is an e-commerce platform and anyone can become a seller or buyer on this platform. Angel Investment is the key investor of this company, with an investment of around $1 million.

  1. Indielabs

Indielabs is a software development company founded by Khaleel AlHaboub in 2014. The business is based in Khobar, Eastern. The business is involved in developing high-quality software. The business offers a variety of services that are classified in the form of independent labs. The primary objective of these services is to satisfy the software-related needs of the business in Saudi Arabia. Some of the most prominent labs include Digital Marketing Lab, Creative Lab, and Invention Lab. Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed is the key investor in this business.

  1. Cura

Cura is a telemedicine and digital health business founded by Wael Kabli and Mohammed Zekrallah in 2015. The business acquired a unique position in the healthcare sector, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak throughout the world. Using the Cura application, patients can receive healthcare services on demand. It means that the patient does not have to wait for appointments in clinics, and they can establish interaction with doctors online using a video call facility. The patients can get their lab results as well as prescriptions using the Cura application platform. Numerous pharmacies collaborated with this business during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided medicine deliveries to the patients at their doorsteps. Cura so far got around 51. million dollars founds in various funding rounds.

  1. Sadeem

Sadeem has raised a total of $2.6 million in a Series A round which was held in January 2019.

Sadeem is a technology company involved in manufacturing different kinds of smart sensors. The business was founded by Ahmad Dehwah, Mustafa Mousa, Esteban Canepa, and Christian Claudel in 2016. The business offers smart solutions for monitoring air quality, weather, traffic, and flood in the urban areas of the country. The solutions offered by the business play a vital role in enabling the urban authorities to make effective decisions and save resources and lives in real time. The technology used by this business is protected by multiple patents that rely upon numerous independent sensors connected to mobile applications and visualization platforms. All of the sensors developed by the company are powered by solar energy and use wireless technology so that they serve as reliable means of communication during situations of disaster management in urban areas. The key investor in this business is the KAUST Innovation Fund, with an undisclosed amount of funding by the institution.

  1. Near Motion

Near motion is a technology company that develops customer engagement tools in Saudi Arabia. Faisal Alferdos founded the business in 2014. The business offers services for indoor navigation and digital mapping for universities, shopping malls, airports, and other large buildings. The business has developed a portal and an application that smartphone users can install on their phones. Using these applications, the users can navigate through these buildings easily and reach their destination within the buildings comfortably. The business was established in collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed with an investment of around $375,000. It has raised $25K in pre-seed rounds.

  1. NOMADD Desert Solar Solutions

NOMADD is a technology business providing solutions for automated solar panel cleaning in the deserts. George Eitelhuber founded the company in 2012. The robots perform solar panel cleaning services without using any water. The robots used for this purpose are completely autonomous and have been designed, developed, and tested in Saudi deserts. The environmental conditions in the Saudi deserts are very harsh and NOMADD has the advantage of developing and testing robotic solutions in these conditions. The business was established in collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s Wa’ed with an investment of around $305,000.

  1. Maharah

Maharah is a services business providing home maintenance services through a booking app in Saudi Arabia. The business was founded by Mujahed Marghlani, Saleem Barnawi, and Ahmad Mereyani. The business has developed an application that smartphone users can download on their phones and book maintenance services within one minute. The company provides its services for houses and offices through local professionals known as ‘maher’. Customers can save time and money by using this application and get their maintenance services done within a limited time. The business was established in collaboration with Angel Investment and Qotuf AlRiyadah/Flat6Labs Jeddah, with an investment of around $288,000.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Saudi Arabian start-up scene is booming with entrepreneurial innovation, and these fast-growing start-ups are just a few examples of diverse and innovative companies emerging in the country. These companies are contributing to the growth of the Saudi Arabian economy and shaping the country’s future as a leader in technological advancement.

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