I’m really excited to share that I’ll be joining Plus.VC on a part-time basis as a diaspora venture partner based out of Boston, MA.
What will I be doing?
I’ll be building on top of Plus.VC’s already impressive international reputation, network and investment pipeline as their “eyes and ears” on the East Coast. I’ll initially focus on increasing their brand cache here in the U.S., especially among the MENA diaspora, with the goal of ultimately creating a robust pipeline of early stage diaspora founders.
Why MENA, and its diaspora?
For those that know me, my passion and excitement for the Middle East and North Africa will come as no surprise. From a young age, my grandfather’s stories of his childhood in Palestine and Lebanon filled me with wonder. I landed in Palestine for my first job after graduating from Tufts in 2015. That year transformed my perception of the region from one of forlorn nostalgia to a vibrant, chaotic, beautiful reality. There, I had the privilege of connecting with a blossoming Ramallah-based ecosystem, whose stories sparked my second passion after the region itself – entrepreneurship.
I moved back to the States in 2016 and joined an early stage startup (Freebird), where I worked until last summer, when Capital One acquired us. During that time, supporting entrepreneurship in the Arab world has remained an important mission of mine. I launched Habibi Worldwide, and more recently StartMENAUp, as initial steps towards fulfilling that mission. These two initiatives have only doubled-down my conviction in the region’s potential. If you’re interested in learning more why, I’d selfishly suggest you check out this Plus.VC blog post and the interviews on StartMENAUp itself. For more material not directly related to me though, take a look at Startup Rising, MAGNITT, MENAbytes, Wamda, and Spark With Shereen (among many others).
However, my work over the past five years has also shown me the power, talent, and potential of the MENA region’s worldwide diaspora. Even in the troubling times of the past couple of years, members of this diaspora have created images that speak for a movement, ran one of the world’s newest unicorn startups, raised money on Shark Tank (twice), weighed in on the COVID-19 pandemic as a leading epidemiologist, spoken for a growing progressive movement in the U.S., and even ran for President (almost). This list just scratches the surface! We’re a creative, active community of hustlers and dreamers, engaged with our local communities, plugged into global trends and networks, with a desire to make a positive difference in the world. I can’t wait to see what the next few years holds as we continue to “come into our own.”
With Plus.VC, I get the amazing opportunity to continue the journey of supporting MENA entrepreneurship with some of the region’s (and world’s) leading investors. The co-founders, Hasan Haider and Sherif ElBadawi have tremendous backgrounds inside and outside the region, and over 200 early stage investments under their belts. You can find more details here, but at a high-level, Plus.VC is a $60m fund focused on the MENA region and its diaspora. We’re looking to invest early with capital, as well as curated operational resources, coaching, and mentorship to set founders up for success.
I could go on and on about why I’m personally excited to work with Plus.VC, but what’s really important is why aspiring entrepreneurs should be equally excited. We’re ready to be first in as an early lead investor and provide the customized support I previously mentioned. Founders will join a “borderless” portfolio community of MENA founders, with the chance to plug into a fast-emerging market, whether for sales and partnership opportunities, or simply for diversification of capital and ideas. During their time at 500 Startups, Hasan, Sharif and much of the Plus.VC team already invested 10% of their portfolio in founders based outside the MENA region, so they’re no strangers to providing value to founders, no matter where their HQ is located.
How to get in touch?
So, if you’re a MENA-based or MENA-diaspora founder, aspiring or experienced entrepreneur, or just interested in talking about startups, venture capital and the region, please connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, or just send me an email.
P.S. – I would be remiss not to thank my fiancee Victoria Attar for her advice, support, and encouragement. She, along with her family, are a constant, near and dear reminder that recent immigrants to the U.S. are a fount of strength, resilience, and potential that we all should embrace.