Published on August 9th, 2015 | by SayginYalcin

0 shifts up a gear as it seeks fresh capital

For, the journey has so far been smooth, as it reaps the benefits of its business model, which has made it much easier for customers to sell used cars of any condition, according to founder and CEO Saygin Yalcin.

Since launching its business two years ago, the company has stayed in the fast lane – expanding its footprint beyond the Middle East and into Western Europe, while courting investors in the United States (US) for fresh capital injection.

“We started our operations as a small Dubai-based start-up in September 2013,” said Yalcin. “And within a year, we were able to expand to other emirates in the UAE.”

The company conducts around 300 car inspection appointments every day in various inspection stations throughout the country. To date, it has done over one million car valuations, utterly disrupting the used car market in the UAE. continued its expansion course by establishing presence in Turkey and Saudi Arabia in 2014. Most recently, it has also gained a foothold in Germany, where Turkish descent Yalcin was born and raised.

“One of our main plans is to focus on geographic expansion. We are hoping to have a network effect. The more locations we have and the more markets we serve, [the more] we can have a win-win situation for all participants,” the 31-year-old entrepreneur said.

Tapping US investors

Yalcin said has met with investors in the US to help raise USD 100 million, which will be used to finance its expansion plan. The company is keen to have presence across the GCC region, in countries like Qatar and Kuwait, before moving into other more promising and lucrative markets in the Arab world and beyond.

He added that he is also hoping venture capital firms in the US will grant his start-up venture a USD 1-billion valuation, eventually elevating it to the elite “unicorn” club – a status held by just over 100 start-ups worldwide.

When asked why he chose the US to explore this funding and valuation opportunity, Yalcin said the economic giant is “the most mature venture capital market in the world, especially for internet investments”.

“US investors have had several success stories and now are able to read success KPIs [key performance indicators] much better. Those venture capitalists [also] have better access to finance and regulatory frameworks,” he explained.

Because of these factors, successful Middle East start-ups such as – when selected by VC firms and given a USD 1-billion valuation – could have the opportunity to raise extensive funds internationally, the young entrepreneur added.

Tweaking outdated industries

Yalcin’s energy and enthusiasm are the driving force fueling the success of his ventures. A serial entrepreneur, he was founder and partner at the region’s first private shopping club,, a position he held from November 2009 until April 2015.

Aside from being at the helm of, he currently serves as partner in Jabbar Internet Group, a company created in 2009 following Yahoo!’s acquisition of; and Group, the largest e-commerce firm in the Arab world.

He attributes his entrepreneurial success to having the ability to recognize and realize opportunities to improve large outdated industries, with modern technology.

“Industries, which are big and outdated in terms of their operations, especially where technology can bring in value and transparency for reducing market participants costs [offer the most number of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs in the Middle East],” he told

In terms of challenges that Middle East-based start-ups face, Yalcin believes that access to funding remains on top of most entrepreneurs’ list.

“For green field and seed investments, most entrepreneurs will only face a challenge in raising funds if they are not diligent enough,” he said. “However, for investments [that] go beyond [single-digit] millions, especially in the Internet sphere, [entrepreneurs] will face the reality that [they] would need to go outside the region to raise that amount.”

VC challenges

The venture capital landscape in the Middle East is growing and opening up opportunities for several entrepreneurs in the region, Yalcin said. But challenges remain, especially when it comes to raising funds from limited partners.

“The challenge is two-fold. On one hand, venture capitalists do not find enough of those so-called ‘quality deals’. On the other hand, entrepreneurs are not enabled to grow beyond seed phase,” he commented.

This, he added, is particularly difficult for entrepreneurs who lack the proven track records and extensive network of international investors. In the end, “most of them will have to shut their businesses if they could not prove phenomenal growth in their first few years”, he said.

The region’s relatively unconducive regulatory environment also stifles start-up owners’ ability to grow their business beyond the initial stage.

“The region does not have a bankruptcy law, which would protect entrepreneurs from taking risks and trying to boost the economy. Hence, the criminalization of [bankruptcy] deters most entrepreneurs from taking a business risk – for example, getting a startup loan – if they could not raise venture capital.

“Moreover, only a tiny fraction of the regional banks’ loan books are dedicated to SMEs. Banks are not startup oriented at all,” Yalcin said.

Source: Thomson Reuters – Zawya, Business Pulse,

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About the Author

Saygin is the Founder & CEO of the Middle East's (ME) first & largest car buying service, and Founder of the first & largest online private shopping club in the ME,, which has been acquired by, making him Partner at the and Jabbar Internet Group, becoming the largest ecommerce company in the Arab world, with 3000+ employees. In its largest acquisition outside the US to date, has acquired Group. He has been selected as a UBS Industry Leader, a network of Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals. He was also Advisory Board Member & Academic Lecturer of Entrepreneurship at the Canadian University of Dubai. He was referred to as "the region's online business guru" by the National newspaper in the UAE, while Arabian Business named him as "one of the region's finest young entrepreneurs and a major part of the entrepreneurial scene in recent years". Fortune magazine (mag) named him in the 40 under 40 list, as one of the most influential young people in business, Entrepreneur mag ME awarded, with Saygin at its helm, as the "Fastest Growing Company in the ME", while the National newspaper sees it among a handful of tech companies to "have the potential to break the $1bn barrier". In a cover story, Entrepreneur mag ME titled him as "undoubtedly one of the youngest & most successful internet entrepreneurs in the ME”, awarded as "Technology Innovator of the Year”, while Khaleej Times awarded him as the Technology Leader. Gulf Business selected him as 1 of the Top 10 Entrepreneurs in ME. In a cover story, Arabian Business counts him as 1 of the most successful entrepreneurs to call Dubai home. During the World Government Summit, HH Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed, Minister of Interior of the UAE, presented Saygin as an inspiring story for the country, in the presence of world leaders, incl. HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

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