Moroccan e-commerce search engine Vendo.ma has raised 2.7 million dirhams ($267,000) from an unnamed angel investor based in England.
The two-year-old startup was founded by engineering students Ibrahim Chraibi (25) and Salah Eddine Cherkaoui (24). Vendo.ma enables people to find the specific online shop for their needs, and locate offline stores in Morocco.
The site claims to receive nearly 100,000 visitors per month.
It lists nearly 200,000 products from around 110 local e-commerce sites and redirects buyers to the store they want to buy from, much like Yaoota in Egypt.
The co-founders wanted to create an added-value version of Google search for Moroccan e-commerce, co-founder Ibrahim Chraibi told Wamda.
The search engine is focused on Morocco with a precise geo-location system and enables the consumer to filter and compare the different offers, whereas, on Google, the user has to do this manually and go through several steps, Chraibi said.
The site offers labels near each product to indicate whether it is available by online payment, cash and delivery or not before the redirection to the purchase site.
“We are planning on monetizing our startup using a CPC bidding model similar to Google Adwords, where our customers can choose their desired products to sponsor and highlight, bearing in mind that the sponsored products and offers have to be relevant to the customer’s search input,” said growth marketer Rezki El Mokaddam.
There are close to 700 e-commerce sites in Morocco, (and another) 500 that are created every year; so we wanted to bring something which simplifies the search, said co-founder Eddine Cherkaoui.
Vendo aims to leverage the growth the Moroccan e-commerce sector is witnessing.
Initially shopping on the internet attracted people focused on deals with absorbing prices. Now customers are also opting for purchases of first needs while keeping an eye on promotions.
But the local market is protected from foreign competitors by controls on how much Moroccans can spend using credit cards on international purchases. Therefore, most transactions are paid with cash.
“We want the artificial intelligence of the engine to be pushed as far as possible so that the result of the research is as relevant as possible, our goal is to modernize online sales,” Chraibi said.
The Moroccan startup ecosystem has been gaining momentum of late.
In July last year, Maroc Numeric Fund (MNF) partnered with the OCP Entrepreneurship Network to launch MNF Angels.
MNF Angels is aiming to make investments from 1 to 8 million dirhams ($100,000 to $800,000) in Moroccan startups. The fund includes around ten investors and startups from the ICT, green tech or biotech sectors, will be selected each month to pitch for investment.
The fund will bring technical assistance to angels, mostly on finance, strategy, and legal aspects.
MNF, a public-private initiative, was created in 2010.