Namshi Receives Investment from Summit Partners

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On the heels of its $20 million investment round from J.P. Morgan and Blakeney Management this past September, Dubai-based fashion retail site Namshi is once again receiving an injection of cash, this time from Summit Partners, a growth equity firm that has invested in several Rocket Internet companies this year.

The amount of the cash-for-equity deal was not disclosed. While Summit Partners has recently sprinkled €20 million (US $26 million) each on Zando, a Zappos clone in South Africa, and Lazada, an Amazon clone in Southeast Asia, last October and December respectively, the amount invested in Namshi was "not on the scale" of Namshi's previous $20 million round from J.P. Morgan and Blakeney.

When luxury site PPR invested in Bigfoot I, the Rocket Internet holding company that controls Namshi among others, co-founder Hosam Arab noted that the investment could boost Namshi's ability to work with iconic global fashion brands as it expands its lines of shoes and accessories. With this new round of funding, however, not much has changed at the Zappos clone; Namshi will continue to execute on the plans it made in September. 

"Right now we're continuing with what we're doing," says co-founder Louis Lebbos. These to-dos include:

1) Namshi is adding more product variety, especially scaling up its abaya and jalabiya lines.

2) It's still focusing on warehousing locally in Saudi Arabia, but now is also piloting a new Last Mile Delivery plan, running a fleet of "a few bikes and a couple of vans" to improve upon delivery times in Dubai. "We'll test it and learn from it, and if we like it, we'll scale up," says Lebbos.

3) Spending more on marketing, scaling up within their three primary marketing categories: search engine ads, display ads, and Facebook ads. Display ads are still essential in a market where many are still hesitant to shop online, says Lebbos, but of course it's optimal to cater primarily to users who are already on the internet. A TV ad campaign will also continue. 

None of these agendas are novel, but young startups can look to these models to understand how bigger fish- who have the capital to test extensively- are solving the region's basic e-commerce issues.

And of course, being strategic can get you out of trouble, as the third Namshi co-founder Muhammed Mekki discovered at our recent MixnMentor panel in Dubai, where fellow panelist Joi Ito expounded on the pitfalls of an MBA. 

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