In a seed round led by Israeli venture capital company Maniv Mobility, Fenix, based in Abu Dhabi, has raised $3.8 million, it announced today in a statement to MENAbytes. One of the biggest seed rounds ever made by a start-up in the United Arab Emirates is the first investment by an Israeli VC in the UAE. The two nations had normalized their partnership earlier this year in September and since then, companies in both markets have been looking to partner in various ways.
As its name suggests, Maniv Mobility is a VC focused on start-ups in mobility, with investments in Israel, Europe, the United States and now the United Arab Emirates.
An Israeli VC investing in a UAE-based startup is a huge storey and one that will receive mixed reactions from various ecosystem stakeholders, but its team is the biggest highlight of Fenix.
The startup was founded earlier this year by Careem’s former executives, Jaideep Dhanoa and IQ Sayed, who were both co-founded in 2019 by European micomobility startup Circ. Before the business was acquired by Circ, Jaideep led the Middle East & North Africa region and IQ was their CTO.
At Careem, where Jaideep was the senior director of growth & planning, the two met for the first time, and IQ was vice president of engineering. As their Head of Micromobility and IQ left the Dubai-based business to work for Lyft in 2016, Jaideep left Careem to join Grab, heading their autonomous driving team in Germany.
Fenix is now the third organization in the mobility sector where the two work together and the second they have co-founded (they were Co-founded by Circ and headed by the Co-founder of Distribution Hero).
Commenting on the investment Jaideep Dhanoa, Fenix’s Co-founder and CEO said, “When we started Fenix, we pursued the most value-adding investors who could help our mission to unlock urban potential and propel communities forward. We were grateful to meet the team at Maniv Mobility as a result of the new friendship that has arisen since the normalization between the UAE and Israel and are now benefiting from collaborating with some of the most talented and experienced global investors and technology entrepreneurs in the mobility space.”
The start-up based in Abu Dhabi today, launched its services in the Emirate, allowing individuals to book electric scooter rides on Corniche, Al Dana, Al Bateen, Al Reem Island, and Al Maryah Island. The rides can be booked using a mobile app from Fenix. Fenix has confirmed that it is launching the largest electric vehicle fleet in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. It did not disclose the exact number, but said that it had a multi-throwing vehicle fleet.
The start-up of micromobility starts with Abu Dhabi, but aims to extend in the UAE and then to the rest of the GCC to become the ‘first pan-GCC operator’ by 2022.
The scooters from Fenix come with hand sanitization dispensers mounted inside them. They also feature trackers that if the scooters need cleaning, alerts the Fenix team.
Michael Granoff, Maniv Mobility’s founder and Managing Partner, commenting on the investment said, “Maniv now has portfolio companies in six countries with the challenges and opportunities of mobility across all borders.” The same solutions apply to Tel Aviv, London, or Abu Dhabi when it comes to seeking safe, accessible, and clean ways of moving people across cities. We are proud to be the first Israeli VC to invest in a tech company based in the UAE.”
“In the GCC region, Maniv Mobility sees immense potential as a new micro-mobility market and we were extremely inspired by the team at Fenix and their push to transform the future of mobility across the region. We live, breathe and sleep mobility at Maniv Mobility, so we are able to help the team as they carry their service to market and grow rapidly across the Middle East,” he further said.
IQ Sayed, Co-founder of Fenix, said, “As we move from Covid-19 lockdowns, the birth of Fenix is synonymous with the rebirth of our communities, our societies, and our economies. In navigating an unpredictable present to a better future, we believe micromobility has an important role to play. By making mobility simpler, cheaper, and reformed, we can all achieve our potential.”
He stated further, “Growing connectivity for mobility enables a more efficient and inclusive economy and makes local exchange easier for our communities. Our partnership with Maniv Mobility and this historic seed investment provides Fenix with the tools and experience to modernize technology that serves the mobility needs of our region’s citizens and city partners.”
Various micormobility companies, including Uber-backed Lime and Careem and European micormobility startup Tier, which recently raised $250 million from SoftBank, Mubadala and others are active in the United Arab Emirates.