Shorooq Partners in a habit to back winning horses

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Shane Shin.— Supplied photo
Shane Shin.— Supplied photo

Shane has 90 investments across 45 companies with fintech and software being the top sectors.


Sandhya D'Mello

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Published: Thu 16 Dec 2021, 11:40 PM

Last updated: Thu 16 Dec 2021, 11:42 PM

The first thing a venture capitalist (VC) looks at while investing in a start-up or an idea is a return on investment (RoI) after they incubate ventures that go on to remain afloat successfully.

And this what has driven disruptor in chief Shane Shin — a Forbes 30 Under 30 and a Kauffman Fellow — to set up Shorooq Partners in the UAE in collaboration with Emirati Mahmoud Adi.

The 31-year-old South Korean co-founder at Shorooq Partners — seed and early stage VC in the Mena and Pakistan — built his career as an investment professional, investment banker, and entrepreneur in the US and has 90 investments across 45 companies with fintech, software being the top sectors

Some of the leading companies where he has put his faith include Pure Harvest, Capiter, TruKKer, Sarwa, Lean, Lendo, Retailo, Airlift, Breadfast and NymCard.

“I worked at UBS, TD Securities, Lazard Freres & Co, Alpine Investors, and GlobalFoundries — wholly-owned subsidiary by Mubadala Investment Company — a $250 billion Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund. I concentrated in finance and Mandarin at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with Summa Cum Laude, Joseph Wharton Scholar, and Benjamin Franklin Scholar Honours,” said Shane, who studied and worked in the USA, Canada, and China prior to settling down in the UAE.

So what brought this disruptor to the UAE? “I first landed in the UAE in October 2017 and still remember my parents calling me ‘insane’ when I told them that I was leaving Silicon Valley to set up a venture capital firm in the Middle East with my best friend and partner Mahmoud Adi.”

“The vision for Shorooq Partners was put together when Adi and me were in the Silicon Valley. We started in 2017 with a small office in Khalifa City, managing a few investments we had made in the US such as Tank Utility and Luma Health. We then did our first investment in the region through incubating and co-founding Pure Harvest, leading their pre-seed and seed rounds. Over the years we have a reach across five countries, having invested in close to 50 companies. Today we are a team of more than 15 talented individuals in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain,” said Shane

Shane says the UAE’s progressive leadership, warm hospitality, and diversity make the nation a great place to live, work, and grow.

The UAE’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has matured and evolved considerably in recent years, and today, it is a hotbed for startup activity. Evidence of this trend can be seen in the growing number of incubators, accelerators and investment funds, and entrepreneurship programmes that cater to this community.

“The UAE is home to a significant number of top-funded startups in the Mena region. The emirate provides many unique incentives and advantages, including its strategic geographic location enabling companies to expand their global reach, through world-class infrastructure, investor-friendly environment, a community of world-class talents, and attractive free zones,” said Shane.

The UAE’s economic indicators remain strong as the city’s fast-growing population and rising income growth support consumer demand. The funding landscape for startups, especially those in the digital space, has been changing rapidly, with VC investment in the UAE exceeding that of FY’20 by 24 per cent. Total funding increased by 69 per cent year on year with the Kitopi deal accounting for 61 per cent of capital deployed in Mena, according to a report by Magnitt. Investment in fintech in the first half of 2021 grew by 49 per cent year on year, while the sector accounted for 23 per cent of all transactions closed in Mena in the same period. The UAE VC ecosystem also saw a shift towards larger deals in the first half of 2021 as deals sized above $3 million went from accounting for 23 per cent of all deals in 2020 to constitute 40 per cent of all transactions in the first-half of 2021.

“In 2022, we plan to invest more aggressively in the region, and support startups throughout all stages via our value-add and venture debt fund. We also plan to launch various ecosystem-building initiatives that will see us proactively investing in the pre-seed and seed stages with a focus on specific sectors that we believe are going to play a key role in the future. We finally see ourselves focused on deepening our on-the-ground presence in Pakistan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt and hiring more team members to support our growing portfolio of startups,” concluded Shane. —

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