500 Startups A Leading Investor in Bahrain's Fintech Revolution

Hasan Haidar, CEOThe fintech wave in current times is sweeping global revolutions and recently starred as the epicentre of the AWS (Amazon Web Services) Cloud ecosystem launch that took place in Bahrain this year (September). The country has recently become the go to hotspot for financial technology companies(fintechs), utilizing the digital age and its financial know how to establish an ambitious fintech ecosystem. With its flourishing fintech industry, the country is taking an international status for its digital transformation and is pacing towards evolving into a digitized ecosystem a major decision that was taken under the guidance of its far sighted government. Surging to support and establish financial ties with this global startup magnet, 500 Startups is pitching investments and enabling startups to scale-up out of the ecosystem into other global markets.

500 Startups is a Silicon Valley based venture capital firm operating globally with operations in about 20 different countries worldwide and investments in about 75 different countries. Claimed as the most active early stage venture fund and seed accelerator globally, especially in the MENA region, the company has made about 2200 investments since their inception boosting several companies to a glorified unicorn status. Banking on the opportunity in the Kingdom of Bahrain, 500 Startups is currently anchored on the strong Bahraini regulatory environment and has made around 10 investments in the country alone, aiming for more opportunities with founders of startups from anywhere else in the region. In light of this on-growing prospect Hasan Haidar, CEO, 500 Startups states, “Here in the MENA region, we lead the operations and we setup funds that are dedicated for the MENA regio. We launched that in 2017 and since then, we have done about 130 investments, proving we are the most active investors in the region, further looking at opportunities with founders of startups from every where”.

Who Shares the Pie?
Being a seed stage transfer venture capital fund, 500 Startups focuses on seed stage investments in the MENA region with a keen interest in technology enabled startups. Stating
that technology allows both the products and customer acquisition to scale quickly, 500 Startups as a VC fund requires that scale to validate the significance of their investments. With regard to its average excise the company invests about 100,000 dollars, offering ranges from 50 to 250 for first checks with follow-on’s upto half a million dollars in the top 20 percent of its portfolio.

Gripping a large global network, the company is at an advantage of holding reputed partnerships in SouthEast Asian countries and America enabling any of its startups to venture into those markets and experience a seamless welcome. Further running programs in San Francisco, 500 Startups sent few startups from the Middle East only to boost their understanding and skills on the approach of functioning in the Silicon Valley.

Embracing the Distinct 500 Startups Model
“We are actually not afraid of failure and our model is different from other VC funds,” acclaims Hasan, whose company follows the thesis of diversification. “We know the seed stage is the riskiest, and that there is a probability distribution around successes and we play that probability distribution to our investment thesis around the seed stage,” he further adds. Engaging in an astute approach by building a large and diversified portfolio, the company identifies and spotlights those companies that are succeeding and doubles down investments in the same. “We run programs where we sense opportunity and make sure we give that opportunity to everyone. Moreover we run application processes are for programs in San Francisco that are available to any interested applicant in the world. Additionally, we hold programs in the MiddleEast that are especially for MENA based startups”.

Bahrain - A Center for Operation
As per the 500 Startups, the Bahrain market is an interest base for investing in fintech startups. Favourably, the region demands low operations cost simultaneously possessing efficient local human capital with founders who are determined to succeed and pursue making decisions for investors easier. This rigorous involvement on the part of the Bahraini government has made the country a crucial center for startups in fintech, pacing at a speed like none else. The company has additionally developed significant relations with the EDB (Economic Development Board) and the CBB(Central Bank of Bahrain) playing roles in getting the entire ecosystem suitable for on coming fintech revolutions.

Citing its futuristic panorama, 500 Startups aims at strengthening its roots in the MENA region, and investing and supporting startups in programming via its well versed mentors & advisors, thus further enhancing the performance of the entire ecosystem towards progress.

India Stands a Chance
In terms of India, 500 Startups is looking at the Indian market as an interesting base to expand its functions. “I believe it is a very important market for us to be present in and there are lot of founders in India who wish to come out of this region and expand here,” avers Hasan. Recognizing the Indian market’s rapid development characteristics, 500 Startups holds a positive outlook towards the country as a leading potential market to fortify its base.