Crowdinvestment takes off in the Middle East: Dubai startup raises equity capital on Eureecaa

Photo Source: Nabbesh campaign on Eureeca

Photo Source: Nabbesh campaign on Eureeca

It’s 10am in Nabbesh’s offices in Dubai. The team is a bit speechless. “We’re at 29%,” someone says excitedly. Founder Loulou Khazen sounds surprised.

Yesterday, at the same time, Nabbesh, a skill exchange platform based in Dubai, debuted the first equity crowdfunding campaign on Eureeca, an equity crowdfunding platform, since it went live last month.

Crowdinvestment won’t be the startup’s only source of capital, as the startup is currently negotiating a series A round with institutional investors and business angels. Yet Khazen and her team decided to try to raise US $100,000, for a total equity stake of 6.67%, from the crowd, as a test.

“Crowdfunding was always something that I thought was very interesting,” she says. “We always wondered why it wasn’t bigger in this part of the world, because it’s a great way to raise money at an early stage.”

Thus far, the test is working. At time of print, Nabeesh had raised US $29,190, with 89 days to go.

An unusual series of funding

After launching last April, Nabbesh, which means “search” in Arabic, gained momentum after winning The Entrepreneur du’s reality TV competition, for its platform that focuses on connecting people with unique skills for specific jobs. Taking home 1 million AED (US $272,000) in prize money enabled the startup to hire staff and develop new features over the past year.

Now, the site is integrating with PayPal to facilitate payments among freelancers, and hoping to launch a marketing campaign. When she heard Eureeca launched, Khazen decided to give it a shot.

Khazen easily could’ve stuck with angels and VCs as her sole investors, says Chris Thomas, Eureeca’s co-founder, but launching a crowdinvestment campaign will allow the platform to leverage the power of the crowd. “Eureeca is much more than just a funding platform; it’s a marketing tool,” he says, explaining that it also turns investors into brand ambassadors.

As one of the first to debut a campaign on Eureeca, Nabbesh can also make waves as a pioneer, he illustrates.

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