Egypt’s Elves targets millennials globally after seed funding

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Egyptian tech-driven virtual assistant platform Elves is targeting millennials everywhere after raising US$2 million in seed funding towards the end of last year.

Launched in 2016, Elves is a tech-driven virtual assistant platform using a “human in the loop” methodology to drive machine learning and build AI. The chat-based platform allows users to talk to a “super human assistant” to do anything, anywhere in the world, for free.

Late last year the startup secured a US$2 million seed round from investors that include Emaar, the Kauffman Fellows Syndicate, Dubai Angel Investors, and a host of other angels from the region and the United States (US).

The seed funding – which Elves says is the largest such round ever raised by an Egyptian tech startup – will be used to grow and market Elves around the world as well as extend and introduce new core functionality to the platform.

Elves chief marketing officer (CMO) Mohammed Sabry told Disrupt Africa the human-assisted Artificial Intelligence solution secured users assistance from anyone in the world, at no cost.

“From booking dinner reservations, picking up your groceries, paying your bills, to booking all your travel; if its legal and doable by you or a personal assistant, we can do it, usually faster and better,” he said.

The app is very simple to use. Users simply download it and start chatting with their “elf”. It is also available on Facebook Messenger, where users simply look for “elves”, and again, simply start typing away. It has also recently integrated with Siri, with users able to ask Siri to tell their “elf” to perform any task.

“From here, we will continue to integrate other platforms with the vision of being as platform agnostic as we can moving forward,” said Sabry.

Elves’ users are generally millennials, with 45 per cent of them based in Egypt, 30 per cent within Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, and a further 25 per cent in the United States (US).

“This is probably reflective of our personal network as we have yet to deploy any marketing dollars,” Sabry said. “Once connected to the Elves, we curate experiences and fulfill services by working with our strong and ever expanding roster of partners all over the world. And if a task requires us finding a new partner, we fulfill the task, and register that partner.”

In spite of its relative youth, Elves now has over 50 employees based between Cairo, Dubai, and the US, and is planning further expansion in the GCC and US over the course of this year. Revenues are growing at between 10 and 15 per cent each month, which the business model based on taking commissions from the vendors it uses.

“We like to say that our competition is no-one and everyone,” Sabry said. “Although we haven’t come across many comprehensive solutions such as ours, for free, we tend to compete with more specialised solutions in travel, e-commerce, and other services.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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