MENA Moonshots: Early-stage investment to support start-ups

Lindsay Miller is the Managing Partner and Board Director of MENA Moonshots, a boutique early-stage investor that offers funding, strategy design, and direct operational support to start-ups and founders in Dubai and around the world.

During her first 11 years in Dubai, Lindsay worked closely with and helped several entrepreneurs and creatives. She saw how much receiving financial and operational support helped unleash the potential of people trying to build their businesses. Lindsay saw a gap in the market of early-stage investing, and when her business partner proposed to take a more structured approach to supporting founders, they decided to start MENA Moonshots in 2018.

Testing the waters

With the later addition of one more partner to the team, MENA Moonshots spent two years testing the waters with relatively smaller investments. “In early-stage investing, there are some investors and founders who are really looking for a very fast journey, very high growth. We were looking for founders that we could have a long-term partnership with,” Lindsay told Euronews.

They found such founders in Sineo Packaging, which offers sustainable packaging solutions for the retail, food & beverage, and e-commerce industries. When the founders, Antoine Moussali and David Fahmy reached out to Lindsay and her partners, they were impressed by the company’s mission and the track record overseas, and subsequently invested in them and helped with introductions to the market in Dubai.

As they kept investing more, Lindsay and her partners were approached by more founders and companies. Joi Gifts, headed by the CEO, Rami Kahale, is an online gifting platform operating across the Middle East. The scalability of their business was one of the key aspects to MENA Moonshoot’s investment decision.

“On a gifting platform, you're always ordering for someone else. So that idea of always being able to expand the network and expand your customer base was super compelling for us,” Lindsay explains.

Meeting the right founder is the key

For Lindsay and her partners, meeting the right founder plays one of the biggest parts in their decision process. An example of this is Georges Karam, the co-founder of The Cloud, which uses technology to maximize revenue and reach for under-utilized kitchens and food brands, at no upfront cost or risk.

“I didn’t feel comfortable with the cloud kitchen space and thought it is not a strong path to profitability. However, because of our trust in the founder and in the intelligence of his business model, we went into an industry and tried to understand what we are missing. We are very keen about them,” Lindsay says.

Similarly, MENA Moonshots invested in Studio 14, a boutique fitness studio with an eco-friendly concept, based on their belief in the founder, Lucy Komolka Walsh.

“She is very passionate and experienced in her industry. We really wanted to get on the journey with her and see her take it to the next level,” Lindsay says.

MENA Moonshot now supports eight different founding teams consisting of 300 staff in 10 different countries. Believing that living and working in Dubai had a major impact on their journey, Lindsay and her partners are planning to bring new companies into the city, especially those that can create a positive impact in terms of climate change and sustainability.

“If you have a passion for impact, there is nothing bigger and more important, so that is the goal,” Lindsay added.