All Posts By

Bassem Bouguerra

5 Hidden Tunisian Startups that will make it BIG

By | Blog

The startup scene in Tunisia is no different than the ones you see in other parts of the world. Most people would know about startups with founders making a lot of noise in the media and social networks while many hidden gems use all their time building their product or talking to their customers.

There are many well known startups that I won’t mention here, I will try to shed the light on the “hidden” Tunisian startups that the general public never heard of, yet they are stepping towards achieving a great international success.

Roamsmart

This is by far, my favorite one! It was created a couple of years ago by Mehdi Triki and Walid Ben Chamekh, 2 telco engineers in the roaming department after they found a “pain killer” idea that could potentially help telcos manage all their roaming processes.

In a very short period of time, Roamsmart team was able to sell its product using a subscription model to telcos in 37 countries located in 5 continents. Received multiple innovation awards and the last of these awards was best vendor in one of the major KPIs “WOW Factor” within the Customer Service 2017 Survey conducted by ROCCO where 145 vendors have been rated by almost 300 Mobile Operators.

If you are an investor, this is the startup you want to watch pretty closely!

Axe Finance

This startup is already making it big! With offices in Tunis, Dubai, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, Axe Finance has developed a great end-to-end solution for banks to manage the credit process.

Axe finance was able to sell its product to big players in the banking field and is experiencing an amazing growth.

Polysmart

I had the chance to visit the extravagant Polysmart office and had a firsthand view of their work. The founders had this vision of competing with international game studios and for that they must recruit the best talents out there. The local talent shortage didn’t stop them and they brought designers and engineers from Algeria and Ukraine.

During my visit, I got to checkout the game they’ve been working on for 2 years. It is just AMAZING!

The video game publisher Wargaming just came to Tunisia to meet with the management of Polysmart and we should be hearing great news soon.

If Polysmart makes it big with their game Veterans Onlinewe will be seeing a new bright era for the Tunisian video game community.

GEEC

GEEC is a startup that operates in the field of Green Energy and Energy Saving. It was founded 2 years ago and is having an impressive growth in sales!

GEEC is different from the typical startups we are used to because GEEC founders decided to use existing solutions such as SkySpark instead of creating their own. Their engineering team builds on top of these solutions and customize them to meet their clients’ needs. This model helped them move very fast from the development phase to traction and growth.

GEEC is now eyeing international expansion to neighboring countries and all the odds are on their side to make it big internationally.

ArchiveYourDocs

This startup was created and incubated in IP-Tech Tunisia. They have developed a great product for document management harnessing AI and Machine Learning for data processing and document analysis.

Their product is being used by Insurance companies, banks, governments, etc.. and they have clients in Tunisia and many client in sub saharan Africa.

P.S: There are many great Tunisian startups such a Expensya, Datavora, etc… I didn’t mention them here because, again, I want to highlight the ones not known to the public.

Startup Investment in Tunisia: A mini guide

By | Blog

You are a “young” Tunisian who decided to take on the crazy journey of entrepreneurship? Congratulations and welcome to the club! This article may help you.

Since I joineIntilaQ as a CEO, I received a lot of emails from young entrepreneurs with great ideas asking for funding. I tried to answer to all of them until I ran out of time and energy as the pile of requests kept on growing… So I decided to write a post that will hopefully encapsulate all the funding options for Tunisian entrepreneurs, with the plan of keeping it up to date as the information changes. Let’s get into the subject and list all the available options

Seed Investment

Self Funding

This is my favorite option for startups in their early stage and need cash to bootstrap their first product version. One option is to hire a team of engineers to work on Software projects for clients and inject the profits into the product development team. I know 2 startups that followed this model: Tunpixel offered Software Development for clients in Tunisia and abroad to fund the bootstrapping of its product Jobi.tn. There is also coderscloud.comthat used the cash generated from its Software Development services to fund the development of the first version of simple.expert.

This option is great for 2 main reasons: The first one is that you will be buying your freedom and independence where you can go crazy with product features and you don’t have to get anybody’s approval for pivots. This option also shows investors that you are a proof-tested entrepreneur that can manage a team and can sell, therefore, they will have some sort of assurance in investing in you.

FFF — Friends, Family and Fools

If you are a lucky person with friends and family having extra cash laying around and they believe in you as person. Then this option is for you. Although, you might want to make sure that:

Ask for a specific amount to meet a specific milestone.

Offer a formal agreement as well as a handshake

Don’t ask for more than your friends or family can afford to lose.

Communicate the plan and the risks up front.

Focus on well-connected friends with relevant business experience.

Tie re-payments to revenue growth in the startup.

I know many startups in Tunisia that started with friends & family money. Some of them are the game studio Digitalmania and Vynd.

Angel Investors

A little background story: The Tunisian legislation offers a LOT of perks to banks to encourage them to invest. For example, The Tunisian Guarantee Company (SOTUGAR) offers Banks a 90% insurance on their investment in developing zones. Yet, they still ask for a physical guarantee with a value up to 150% of the asked investment!! Sotugar also offers a 60% insurance to investment funds but they don’t offer any insurance to Angel Investors!!

This is one of the reasons why we don’t have many Angel Investors in Tunisia.

There were some initiatives by “Angel Investors” in Tunisia such as Carthage Business Angel… Yet, I haven’t seen them making investments in the last few years.. ( I kindly invite CBA members to correct me if I am wrong here ).

Below is a list of Tunisian Angel Investors who invested in at least one Tunisian startup:












Accelerators/Incubators

If you google Tunisian incubator on Google, you will find a lot of incubators. Yet 90% of these incubators are either closed or inactive. As of today, the only 2 incubators that have the cash to directly invest in startups without taking you to other investors are the incubator B@Labs and the accelerator Flat6Labs.

B@Labs

Bi@Labs has an interesting program of acceleration/incubation that rewards successful entrepreneurs with 40k DTN to be spent as follow:

15k spend by Bi@Labs on startups through support programs.

10k to be spent by the startup but with the approval of B@Labs.

If B@Labs decides to go further with the startups, they will invest another 15k in cash. So that’s a total of 40k for an exchange of 5% equity.

Flat6Labs

For startups that are a little more developed, i.e. those who are beyond the idea and prototype stage and have already tested or sold their products on the market, there is Flat6Labs, a regional accelerator and VC Fund that provides entrepreneurs with seed funding, strategic mentorship, office space and entrepreneurship-focused business training and development workshops, all engineered to prepare companies to be investment-ready within four months.

Twice a year, Flat6Labs offers 6–8 startups an investment of 110,000 DT in seed funding and services in exchange for 10–15% equity in the company. For companies who graduate from its program and companies that are more developed, Flat6Labs also offers follow-on and pre-series A funding that can go up to 600,000 DT.

They also provide startups with a regional network and over $300K in perks and benefits, providing entrepreneurs with some of the best global resources available to build their companies.

wikistartup

There are other incubators such as wikistartup. WikiStartup helps entrepreneurs with their business plan then they introduce them to investors in exchange of a flat fee of 5k and 3% of the amount that the startup raises during one year.

Seed Investors

As of today, the only seed fund I know of is CapitalEase managed by UGFS. UGFS invests at an early stage in exchange of equity and convertible bonds. They have a great portfolio of startups so they will be bringing in a lot more than just money. I believe they have few million dinars to be invested, so they are actively looking for opportunities.

There is also Yunus Social Business who has different phases of selection for the investment process leading to an offer of 150K tnd (equity based offer). Statups in prototyping phase can get a 20K loan. YSB now invests in specific social businesses, the ones creating jobs indirectly (Uber like business models) or developing skills for employability.

Mid Stage

IntilaQ used to be in the early stage investors list and it is the leader today with a portfolio of over 26 startups! We are now investing in startups looking for growth and need an investment of 1–2 Million dinars.

We plan on investing at least 3 Million dinars in 2017.

There is also Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations CDC that just invested 1.5 Million dinars in the gaming startup Polysmart. They are actively looking for opportunities!

Growth Stage

Conclusion:

I hope you find this article informative and can help you save a lot of time and energy in your journey as an aspiring entrepreneur. And if there is one advice I can leave you with is to stay away from Banks and Sicars as they don’t like Startups.