OMAN - Finance
Co-founder & CEO, Phaze Ventures
Abdullah Al-Shaksy is the co-founder & CEO of Phaze Ventures, Oman’s first privately owned venture capital firm. He is also the General Partner of the SparkLabs Energy Accelerator, the first energy focused start-up accelerator program in the region. He also serves on the boards of SPAC and multiple international technology companies, including Spotlight Earth, PhazeRo, and Pyra, and is the chairman of the board at eMushrif, a board member at Shaksy Group, and a board observer at Interface Fluidics. He is also a guest speaker, mentor, and lecturer at multiple entrepreneurship programs, incubators, and start-up accelerators.
Phaze Ventures is predominantly focused on three key themes: sustainability; B2B digitalization; and emerging MENA opportunities. All those were put in the spotlight in 2020. We are invested in eight different companies right now, four of which are in Oman. Over the last year, COVID-19 has created new challenges and opportunities for our companies, especially with the boom in corporate digitalization, e-commerce, and healthtech. In the MENA region, in particular, there has been a huge shift toward e-commerce; we are talking growth of two to four times in 2020 alone, and across our global portfolio YoY revenue doubled. We also made extremely bold bets in the peak of the economic shutdown in 2020, re-investing in our portfolio aggressively and being a capital provider of last resort when market liquidity had seized up. In the last year we also saw major developments with our partnership with PDO where we run a start-up accelerator program together. We launched our third cohort with six new exciting start-ups in January 2021 as our first purely digital program focusing on software innovation. The cohort also included three Omani companies, which is the highest number of local start-ups that we have had.
We are geographically neutral, which means we are interested in good ideas wherever they may come from, and we work with advisors and partners in Europe, North America, and the MENA region to help us source and vet opportunities from around the world. We think globally and build our opinion on what is happening in the world and then try to find businesses and founders that we believe will do well based on that opinion. Therefore, it is the combination of a great idea within our thesis and great team to execute on that idea that we are looking for. That said, currently around half of our investments are companies built out of Oman that we have helped to scale internationally, and we believe we are uniquely positioned to continue to invest in great companies locally and globally.
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