how Imagine Dragons inspired Egypt’s first digital trading app

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It’s not every day that a FinTech start-up in Egypt can claim to be inspired by Imagine Dragons, one of the world’s best-selling indie pop-rock bands with album sales totaling around 46 million. , figures compiled by the Recording Industry Association of America Show.

But that’s exactly what happened with Cairo-based digital investment platform Thndr (pronounced Thunder), when co-founders Ahmad Hammouda and Seif Amr had a “flash” moment deciding on a name. for their start-up.

“When you think about starting your own start-up, you’re obsessed and it’s the only thing you think about,” says Mr. Hammouda, who is also the managing director of Thndr.

“One of the few times I was in the gym on the treadmill, I was listening to the thunder Imagine Dragons song and that’s when I decided Thndr was a good name. After Seif signed it, we went with it…thunder, lightning implies speed,” he adds.

Launched in October 2020, Thndr is Egypt’s first mobile, low-commission equity brokerage company that aims to democratize trading in the Arab world’s third-largest economy by enabling consumers to easily invest in stocks, bonds and other funds across the Middle East. and the North Africa region.

The start-up is riding the FinTech wave in Egypt, driven by new laws governing the sector as part of the government’s efforts to accelerate the country’s digital transformation and move towards a “less cash economy”, the Central Bank of Egypt has said. Egypt in its press release. 2021 FinTech Landscape Report.

When you think about starting your own startup, you’re obsessed and it’s the only thing on your mind

Ahmad Hammouda, co-founder and managing director of Thndr

“Over the past few years, FinTech has emerged as a major force disrupting and transforming financial services globally,” said the CBE, which has allocated 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($54.71 million) for a FinTech innovation fund in 2020.

“In line with the country’s National Vision 2030, the CBE recognizes the importance of FinTech to support the modernization of the Egyptian financial sector.”

Egypt is rapidly becoming a leading player in the Mena region in terms of fintech development, Fitch Solutions said in a June 2021 report.

The FinTech sector in the most populous country in the Arab world is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11% between 2018 and 2025 to reach a value of $1.5 billion, according to forecasts by the data research firm.

Egypt accounted for 22% of total investment deals in the Mena region in 2020, he added.

“The size of investments made Egypt the second largest recipient of funds, behind the UAE, indicating Egypt’s level of attractiveness to investors,” the report said.

Meanwhile, investments in the FinTech sector reached around $159 million in 2021, up from $900,000 in 2017, the CBE said in its report.

In March, Thndr raised $20 million in a Series A funding round co-led by New York-based Tiger Global, Dubai-based Beco Capital and Netherlands-based Prosus Ventures. Base Capital, firstminute and existing investors Endure Capital, 4DX Ventures, Raba Partnerships and JIMCO also participated in the funding round.

The funding will be used to further develop the platform’s infrastructure to increase their local investment products, as well as realize their dream of becoming an “investment supermarket” and expand business in the Mena region,” said Mr. Amr, Chief Operating Officer of Thndr. .

Thndr will soon open an office in Dubai, he adds.

“The third parties we integrate and work with are not used to working with such a scalable solution, so a big part of our plan is to continue to invest in building the infrastructure necessary to enable seamless interaction of local products, similar how smooth it is abroad.

“We have to start catering to different types of people and people and therefore we want to invest in building this investment supermarket where it’s not just a thing for one type of person.

“Finally, our ambitions extend beyond Egypt as we see ourselves as a Mena coin; we come from this region and we want to extend the impact we have in Egypt, abroad and elsewhere. Part of this money is therefore devoted to geographic expansion.

The co-founders, who worked for ride-hailing app Uber before launching Thndr, also focus on financial literacy to equip investors with the knowledge to make “self-directed” investment decisions and empower their future.

With more than 300,000 downloads of Thndr’s mobile app to date, 87% of its user base are first-time investors and 40% come from rural areas of Egypt, according to the co-founders.

Thndr’s assets under custody increased 29 times last year, while monthly values ​​traded increased by a similar number. The platform also accounted for 36% of all new listings on local Egyptian stock exchanges in 2021, they add.

Financial inclusion is a major challenge for FinTechs in Egypt, with around 67% of the population unbanked or financially underserved, according to World Bank figures.

However, solving this problem is the government’s primary goal and “they share our definition of financial inclusion, which is not just about having a [bank] card but rather to have access to financial services,” says Mr. Hammouda.

“They saw in us [as] this agent of change that will really help them with financial inclusion… and the regulator gave us all the support we asked for.

The co-founders are already noticing the positive effect Thndr has on the financial lives of Egyptians.

“I see a mother who wants to send her children to study robotics in Germany and now Thndr is giving her the means to invest to make this happen in the future,” says Mr. Amr.

“I see a child who works two jobs in the south of Egypt, earns 50 pounds a week and he actually has an opportunity to save to develop that and stabilize it.

“My dream is for us to be a platform that really helps people and has that impact on the Arabic speaking population…regardless of gender, religion, financial literacy – if there is a need for you to use a service like us, I want it to be that for you.

Company Profile

Name:+Thndr

Started:+October 2020

Founders:+Ahmad Hammouda and Seif Amr

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: FinTech

Initial investment: pre-seed of + $800,000

Funding stage: A-series; + $20 million

Investors: Tiger Global, Beco Capital, Prosus Ventures, Y Combinator, Global Ventures, Abdul Latif Jameel, Endure Capital, 4DX Ventures, Plus VC, Rabacap and MSA Capital

Q&A with Thndr Co-Founders Ahmad Hammouda and Seif Amr

What other successful start-up would you have liked to start?

Ahmed Hammouda: I hadn’t thought of it before but to be honest, I would do a start-up in the video game industry.

Seif Amr: From my side, I can’t really think of another start-up but I can think of a topic. I am a very big defender of our environment. And if I weren’t to do Thndr, or after Thndr, I’d like to do something that really tackles the global environmental problem that we have today.

Who is your role model?

Oh: My father.

HER : This is shared by my immediate family members – my mother for always pushing to do the right thing even in the face of great odds, my father for his entrepreneurial and entrepreneurial spirit that paved the way for my growth and my sister for her relentless ethics.

What new skills have you acquired since starting your business?

Oh: I learned from Seif how to fix durability issues – even if it hurts in the short term.

HER : I learned to be patient and build a team that I trust to do things better than me. It’s my first start-up and the bad days are much more frequent than the good days. We’re also trying to do something that hasn’t been tried before and that takes time. It is not viable to try to do everything on your own. I’m not master of everything and I don’t have a hundred hours a day. Appreciating that there are those who are much better than me at what they do and that they will play a vital role in our mission and believe in the same vision we have at Thndr is one of my biggest learnings .

Where do you want to be in five years?

Oh: I am still working at Thndr, with five years of incredible growth achieved!

HER : Having extended our impact to the rest of the Mena region and Thndr becoming the go-to platform helping ordinary people achieve financial freedom.

If you could do everything differently, what would you change?

Oh: I would have done the same. I’ve enjoyed every step of this journey, including the mistakes we’ve made, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this journey will take us.

HER : I wouldn’t change anything. We made hundreds of mistakes and encountered existential obstacles that could have been avoided but, in the end, I am proud of the impact we are having and blessed to be part of the team we have built. I wouldn’t want to risk changing where we are now by changing past events, even though I would have done things differently in hindsight.

Updated: April 04, 2022, 04:30

Company Profile

Name:+Thndr

Started:+October 2020

Founders:+Ahmad Hammouda and Seif Amr

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: FinTech

Initial investment: pre-seed of + $800,000

Funding stage: A-series; + $20 million

Investors: Tiger Global, Beco Capital, Prosus Ventures, Y Combinator, Global Ventures, Abdul Latif Jameel, Endure Capital, 4DX Ventures, Plus VC, Rabacap and MSA Capital


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