Egypt-based startup Yaoota, which operates a shopping search engine helping users compare products and prices in a variety of online stores, has raised US$2.7 million in funding from the Abu Dhabi-based KBBO Group to aid its regional expansion.
Launched in July 2014 and until now self-funded, Yaoota helps shoppers navigate through the increasing number of online products in Egypt, compare prices, and shop directly from the merchant.
Thousands of purchases have already been made through Yaoota in Egypt, but the startup is now targeting expansion across the Middle East and Africa after raising funding from KBBO Group, a leading investment group operating across the Middle East. The investment is the largest in an Egyptian tech startup to date.
Sherif ElRakabawy, chief executive officer (CEO) at Yaoota, told Disrupt Africa the funding will primarily be used for geographical expansion in the region, though the startup will also be looking to expand its user base locally and invest in its homegrown technology to make it more scalable.
“The e-commerce market in the region is still relatively small as compared to the maturity of Western markets. That’s actually what makes the MEA market attractive, as it exhibits one of the highest growth figures globally. We certainly have expansion plans in the mid-term,” ElRakabawy said.
He said Yaoota had spotted a gap for its product having witnessed the huge amount of effort required for shoppers to buy online in Egypt, with hundreds of e-commerce sites to choose from.
“We have developed an advanced algorithm that aggregates all products for shoppers to search though in an easy way. There are a couple of websites operating in the same domain, but we believe we offer the better user experience,” ElRakabawy said.
Yaoota diverts sales traffic to merchants for a cost per click (CPC) fee, with ElRakabawy saying the startup’s conversion rate is one of the highest in the industry, surpassing those of Google and Facebook.
There are signs investment is starting to return to Egypt after the political turmoil of the last few years. The previous record investment in an Egyptian internet startup was made only last month, when online recruitment startup WUZZUF raised a US$1.7 million Series A round, led by Vostok New Ventures and Piton Capital and joined by current investors 500 Startups and Endure Capital.
ElRakabawy said Yaoota could probably write a book on the challenges it had faced in the wake of the political upheaval Egypt has seen.
“We were building Yaoota during one of the most challenging political epochs of Egypt. This was during the aftermath of the first revolution of 2011, as well as during the second revolution in 2013. Political turmoil, the challenge of funding the entire project from our own money, and finding talent were among the key challenges,” he said.