Melltoo launches premium service

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Things are moving fast at Melltoo Marketplace.

The Dubai-based mobile classifieds startup has just rolled out a new premium service just a few short months after securing a seed fund, and is getting ready to raise a Series A round.

Melltoo users in the UAE can now post, browse, buy, and sell items without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Dubbed 'Pay&Ship Secure', the service allows users to handle payment and delivery through the app. Funds are transferred through an in-app e-wallet system before a delivery person is dispatched to pick up the product.

Buyers have up to three days to inspect the product and make sure it is as described in the posting. When they accept it, sellers get paid. Melltoo takes a 10 percent commission on each successful transaction. Pay&Ship Secure is available just in the UAE at the moment.

What is significant about this new service is that it moves Melltoo from a classifieds service to a marketplace for used goods in which every step of the transaction, from posting to negotiation, delivery and payment, is conducted via Melltoo’s app.

Husband and wife cofounders Morrad Irsane and Sharene Lee launched Melltoo in Dubai in March 2014 as a mobile classified listings service, where customers search for used goods for sale and post items they wish to sell. Similar to other classified services, actual transactions take place offline, with buyers and sellers meeting to exchange products and payments. The app has been downloaded about 250,000 times.

After raising $205,000 in seed funding in May 2015, Irsane and Lee were able to begin work on Pay&Ship Secure. They began beta testing in July with about 100 users.

The startup’s classifieds service is still available to anybody anywhere in the region who wishes to use it, but for those in the UAE, Pay&Ship Secure adds a measure of convenience.

“It’s like a concierge service,” Irsane told Wamda. “Just snap a pic [of the item] and a guy comes to your house and picks it up.”

Using it sounds simple enough, but making it all work smoothly took some doing. Melltoo had to find a payment solutions provider to develop and set up the e-wallet.

“Tech-wise there weren’t many issues,” Lee said.

Finding the right pickup and delivery company was more difficult. They eventually partnered with two local logistics startups with whom they have good “synergies”.

“They are like us but growing faster,” Irsane said. “We can ship anywhere in the UAE for 20 dirhams (about $5),” Irsane added.

Irsane and Lee managed to develop the new service with just half of their seed funds, which leaves them with about $100,000 to sustain them through their next round. They plan to test a referral program but declined to elaborate.

While they’re growing in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, the new service is only availabe in the UAE at the moment.

But with the UAE classifieds market heating up - Dubizzle was recently acquired for an undisclosed amount - Melltoo’s cofounders say they are actively looking to raise a Series A round.

“Seed rounds and Series A are very different animals,” Lee said. “This [new service] was one of our promises [to seed investors] and that we would have a clear path to revenue.”

“We have proven our ability to execute,” she continued. “At this stage investors are looking at the plan, how to get there, and what it’s going to cost. ‘Show me what you did and show me what you’re going to do.’”

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