MarkaVIP Secures $10 Million As The Middle East Takes Off

Online private sales burst onto the scene a few years ago in the shape of Vente Privee in Europe and, later, Gilt in the US. It’s a model we all know and love – and it’s rapidly proving a model with which emerging economies are, well, rather obsessed. I was just recently in Istanbul where you can almost throw a stone and be sure of hitting a private sales startup entrepreneur. And from there, and across the Middle East and North Africa (known as MENA), online businesses are growing like weeds.

And some investors know it. Thus today MarkaVIP, a runaway private sales success story in the Middle East has completed a $10 million Series B funding led by European venture firm Prime Ventures. It’s joined by participation from New York City-based Invus Financial Advisors (IFA), Antwerp-based Hummingbird Ventures, and San Francisco-based Lumia Capital.

The cash will be used to expand MarkaVIP’s current operations and marketing, and expand into other parts of the Middle East, specifically the region known as the Gulf states, of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to its friends.

Ahmed Alkhatib, founder and CEO, MarkaVIP says the company pursued the funding to “focus on decreasing product delivery lead times and improve quality across the board.”

If you’re unfamiliar with MarkaVIP, was founded in Jordan in November 2010 by Alkhatib and Amer Abulaila, MarkaVIP’s CTO.

Since its launch in Jordan and Saudi Arabia in November 2010 and expansion across the GCC and Lebanonit’s garnered 1.5 million registered users and is adding around 5,000 new members per day.

Here’s a few stats for ya: The MENA apparel and accessories market is worth US$15 billion/year. But right now almost all of it is offline. Additionally, there are only 77m Internet users in MENA (excluding Turkey) right now with an overall Internet penetration of 30%, but this is still growing fast. Plus, there are 36m Facebook users in MENA (and this grew 30% in the last 6 months). So there is a huge opportunity here.

But MENA is not ALL about e-commerce, and that’s a theme I’ll be returning to soon, so watch this space…