Below is our recent interview with Bana Shomali, the Founder of ServiceMarket:
Q: How would you describe ServiceMarket?
A: ServiceMarket.com is the largest home services marketplace in the UAE, that helps residents compare quotes and book over 35 different home services online. In the last year alone, ServiceMarket has helped over 150,000 people find and book a quality service professional for a task at home. Founded in 2013, ServiceMarket has since grown to eight cities in the Middle East, with plans to expand in the MENA region and beyond.
Q: Are there any key individuals outside of your company that have been of great help to your startup?
A: Our investors have not only injected capital into our business but they’ve also unlocked other opportunities. For example, AddVenture, an international investor that led the Series A funding round and has followed on their investment in ServiceMarket in this round, brings unique expertise from working with similar platforms around the world. Now Emaar Industries & Investments has joined the existing investor AddVenture in our Series B round. This strategic partnership is of great value to us, as having a local investor like Emaar Industries & Investments on board unlocks for ServiceMarket many opportunities to grow in new directions. Utilizing the earlier investments, ServiceMarket has grown multiple-fold in just a few years by launching a variety of new services, partnering with hundreds of reputable service providers, and developing proprietary technology. Our network of hundreds of partners has also played a pivotal role in our growth by providing high-quality home services to our customers.
Q: You have recently raised $4M, could you tell us more about it?
A: This is the company’s fourth funding round following the seed and angel rounds in 2013 and 2015 respectively, as well as the $3 million Series A round secured in 2016, bringing the total amount invested in the company since inception to USD 8m. Emaar Industries & Investments (EII), an associate of Emaar Properties (PJSC), joined the existing investor AddVenture, an international venture capital fund, in this latest round.
This investment will allow us to offer an even wider range of services to our customers, further establishing ServiceMarket as a one-stop home services platform. We will also be investing in our customer experience to ensure we retain our competitive edge in that area. We will also continue to build out our technology platform not only because it underpins the strength of our business, but also because it has revolutionized the way customers can now book services online.
Q: Do you have any particular advice for startups planning to raise capital?
A: The sooner you start talking to investors, the better chances you’ll have to secure the funding in time. Consider taking out time to meet as many investors as you can so that they’re aware of your business and can follow you and see your progress. Pitching to multiple investors can really take a toll on you, but it’s important to be patient and have confidence in your business. While it’s a long and challenging process, all you need is one investor who sees the potential in your business and is willing to fund it.
Q: Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
A: ServiceMarket is already the largest home services marketplace in the UAE. With this latest funding, we plan to cement our leadership position in the market and become the largest player in the GCC region in the next few years.