- Uber in March announced plans to acquire Careem, a Dubai-based ride-hailing service operating in 14 Middle Eastern countries, in a $3.1 billion deal.
- Six years earlier, Careem’s co-founders Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson raised $12.3 million in the company’s first investment round.
- Business Insider has obtained that original pitch deck, which we’re publishing in full, to show where those original backer’s 500x return on their investment began.
Uber has struggled to attain the same dominance in the tricky region of the Middle East that it’s built in places like the United States.
Those oversights — like taking two years to recognize that most consumers in the area didn’t have credit cards — helped Careem, an upstart ride-hailing company founded by former McKinsey partners, scale up with much success.
In its first seven years, Careem would rack up a market value near $2 billion as it continued to expand to 14 countries throughout the region, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and more. Those efforts were fueled in no small part by efforts to map previously undocumented cities and building out complex payments systems that can account for cash fares.
Speaking to Business Insider in February fewer than two months before Uber announced plans to acquire the company in a $3.1 billion deal, CEO Mudassir Sheikha said the region’s emerging economic status and infrastructure would make it difficult for an international giant like Uber to compete on their own without local expertise.
"For a global player to come in a start providing a service to the top 2% to 3% of the population is not difficult, they’re used to the convenience," he said. "But as soon as you start going down the masses, you require a lot of tailoring."
But before Careem could become an Uber subsidiary, with the US-based ride-hailing giant coughing up $1.4 billion in cash and $1.7 billion in convertible notes for the company, the small team had to start somewhere.
In March 2013, the group set out to raise its first round of venture capital. Armed with these 21 slides, Sheikha and his co-founder Magnus Olsson successfully raised $12.3 million by Septemberfrom backers including STC Ventures, Iris Capital, and Oqal Angel Investment Network. Based on the company’s value in the sale to Uber, those early investors have seen a 500x return on their original investment.
Here’s the pitch-deck from those first presentations that began Careem’s journey more than six years ago:
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