UAE-based Careem Inc, the company that owns and operates the chauffeur-driven online car hiring service Careem.com, has secured $1.7 million, led by STC Ventures, a Saudi Telecom-backed VC fund in Dubai, with participation from a group of angel investors. The capital from this round will be used to enhance Careem's technology platform and expand its car booking service across the Middle East.
Established in July 2012 by former McKinsey & Company consultants Magnus Olsson and Mudassir Sheikha, Careem enables customers to order chauffeur-driven cars through its site or proprietary mobile apps, track their rides in real-time, pay with credit cards and access receipts online. The service is focused on the Middle East market and currently operates in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi markets. The startup is also serving corporates, which have signed up all their staff and pay through monthly invoices. Currently, Careem is operating more than 1,000 cars across its network in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Riyadh.
"More than 90 per cent of our customers consistently rate our service 5 out of 5 and user referrals are the biggest source of our growth. We are looking forward to making our service available to more countries and consumers across the region," said Magnus Olsson.
STC Ventures is a VC fund, independently managed by Iris Capital whose anchor investor is the STC Group. STC Ventures is focused on equity investments in the IT, telecom and digital media/entertainment sectors. It invests in companies in Saudi Arabia, the GCC, Levant, North Africa and Turkey. STC Group serves 170 million subscribers across Saudi Arabia and nine external markets, spanning Turkey, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Africa.
The UAE is one of the largest tourist destinations in the world, which is also home to over 1.75 million Indian migrant population. Other online car hire services operating in this market include Budget, Thrifty, Hertz and Rental Car Group. Indian online car hire service ezeego also has a good presence in this market.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)