Tenmou Gathers and Trains Arab and European Angel Investors in Bahrain

by Leena AlOlaimy, November 25, 2012

Tenmou, Bahrain's first business angels company, is quickly establishing itself as a leading player in Bahrain's entrepreneurship scene, as it works to train both startups and angel investors on best practices, most recently at its second MENA Angel Investor Forum.

The event, launched in association with Punchline Media, built on the success of the inaugural event, which attracted more than 150 investors from across the region and Europe earlier this year. The event was supported by Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund; and Tamkeen, which is responsible for Bahrain’s human capital and private sector enterprise development.

Highlighting the lack of coordination, collaboration, and knowledge sharing amongst the region’s angel investors, Hasan Haider, CEO of Tenmou, explains: “The idea behind the first forum was to bring together all the accelerators and angel networks in the region under one roof—which had never been done before.”

“The second forum is now trying to fill a gap in terms of the educational aspect of best practices for both angel investors and entrepreneurs seeking investment.”

The Startups

For current and aspiring entrepreneurs, the forum covered key topics such as Growth Strategies, Types of Investment and Deal Readiness, Importance of People, and Presenting your Idea.

Some sound advice—particularly for those exploring the tech space—included: don’t underestimate your startup’s agility and strengths compared with industry giants.

Large organizations encounter bureaucratic challenges and are traditionally slower at getting things done. Startups on the other hand, have a lot more flexibility and dexterity to move more quickly and efficiently.

This provides entrepreneurs with a golden opportunity for an exit strategy, if large organizations take note. Facebook’s $ 1 billion acquisition of the 13-employee, 2-year old company, Instagram, immediately comes to mind.

Another opportunity lies in Arabic content, as only 3% of online content is in Arabic. Regional tech entrepreneurs have an opportunity to Arabize or create synergistic ventures in the tech space; poising themselves for quick and easy exits. A classic example in that space is Yahoo’s 2009 acquisition of Maktoob.

However, as Hasan tells me, “Even if you have the best business plan in the world, if you don’t know how to talk about it, you won’t get started.”

One of the key missing components in the entrepreneurship education scene in the region is how to approach and pitch investors. Which is why the Forum dedicated a full-day to a Pitch Coaching workshop to help entrepreneurs hone their elevator pitch and develop more effective investor-ready presentations.

Entrepreneurs also had the opportunity to put those skills into practice during a full day of live pitches, culminating in a keynote by Angel’s Den CEO and Founder Bill Morrow.

Pitches were made by:

1. uTrack - Ali Mahmood, Hasan Al Doy

2. Sketchbook Magazine - Wafa Al Obaidat

3. Arteleus - Nawaf Saeed

4. Reality Animation Studios - Mansoor Toorani, Redha Habib

5. Print.bh - Yazin Alirhayim

6. Exa.io - Mohammed Sheikhaldeen

7. Nans and Duha Centre for Communication and Social Guidance - Assya Bin Mahfood

8. Stride IT Consultancy - Bader Kamal  

The Investors

It’s not just the startups that need training- potential angel investors were also able to learn and share best practices when investing in startup businesses. Investors from the MENA region and Europe were able to discuss the art of early and seed stage investment in panels like Early Stage Business Valuation, Due Diligence, and Exit Strategies.

“Two years ago when we started Tenmou, there was very little awareness on angel investing in the region— both on the investor and startup side. As we have seen the volume of startups and angel investors steadily increase, it’s important to share global best practices, as well as what works here in the Arab region,” Hasan explains.

Since 2011, Tenmou has invested a total of BD 300,000 (approximately US$ 796,000) in seed funding in 12 companies.

The third MENA Angel Investors Forum, which is scheduled for the second quarter of 2013, will aim to attract a more regionally diverse base of investors and entrepreneurs to facilitate and strengthen cross-border collaborations and deal flows.

Angels and entrepreneurs can stay updated by registering on Tenmou’s mailing list.

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Leena Al Olaimy is a social entrepreneur and professional idealist as co-founder of 3BL ‘Triple Bottom Line’ Associates: a Bahrain-based social impact and sustainability consultancy and think-do-tank committed to the MENA region’s sustainable development. She is also the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Quality Control Consultant for Sustainability Reporting Training Partners in the MENA Region.

You can find Leena’s profile on her LinkedIn page, and on Twitter @LAlOlaimy.