KSA Customer Engagement Platform Raises US$125 Million From SoftBank And Sanabil

Riyadh-based customer engagement platform Unifonic has successfully closed a US$125 million in a Series B funding round, led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Sanabil Investments.

Launched in 2006 by Ahmed Hamdan and Hassan Hamdan, Unifonic’s solutions integrate customer communication channels including SMS, voice, and WhatsApp services into a single platform to enable companies to create stronger customer relationships. Catering to enterprises in the MENA and emerging markets, Unifonic optimizes communications in cases such as SMS for online banking, or WhatsApp vaccination requests. Some of its clients include Uber, Aramex, Centrepoint, Dr. Sulima Al Habib, and Bank Albilad.

Considered as the first investment by SoftBank in a Saudi startup, it’s a commendable feat for the team and their efforts. Faisal Rehman, Managing Partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers, addressed Unifonic’s distinct offering as being a key factor in his enterprise’s participation in the investment round.

“Consumers and businesses are increasingly sophisticated in how they communicate digitally, but this has created fragmentation across multiple emerging channels,” he says. “Unifonic’s technology manages this complexity into a single platform, enabling enterprise clients to form closer relationships with their customers.”

“Our investment team on the ground in Riyadh has followed Unifonic for some time, and we have witnessed firsthand the company’s progress in establishing significant market leadership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he adds. “We look forward to supporting the Unifonic team in scaling the platform across the Middle East and other emerging markets.”

Initially bootstrapped, the startup has previously raised $21 million in a Series A round led by STV in 2018. According to a statement, the business has since then quadrupled in size, and now processes over 10 billion transactions on its platform annually.

According to Jonathan Labin, President, Unifonic, it was the ideal time for the startup to raise another round, as the team felt that customer engagement in emerging markets requires a major boost, especially with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 crisis accelerated the pace of digitalization even further, and this is especially true in the MENA region, where we’re seeing significant growth in the adoption of cloud-based technologies and applications,” he explains. “Businesses and governments have realized that it is time to act now if you don’t want to be left behind. The combination of these factors means that there is a massive opportunity we can capitalize on with the reputation we have already built and through this new investment.”

This article originally appeared in Entrepreneur.
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