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Egyptian Fashion Startup La Reina Raises a Massive $1 Million from Algebra Ventures and 500 Startups

The startup is the first online platform for rental couture in Egypt, having garnered over EGP 3.5 million for dress owners in two years since its inception.

Egypt’s first online platform for rental couture, La Reina, raised a $1 million in a Series A funding round led by Egypt’s largest venture capital fund, Algebra Ventures, in collaboration with global VC fund, 500 Startups. “Our number one priority is take our collection from hundreds to thousands,” says Ghada El-Tanawy, co-founder at La Reina, a platform that caters to women standing on either side of a demand and supply equation, allowing women to rent their used gowns through an online platform. 

"We aim to become the biggest fashion closet in Egypt, reaching the threshold of 5,000 items by next January," co-founder Ghada El-Tanawy tells Startup Scene ME. Along with co-founder Amr Diab, the entrepreneur was listed as one of the 25 entrepreneurs under 25 by Startup Scene ME in 2017. “This would not only mean a revenue worth of EGP 8 million for the dress owners, but also a humble boost for the local economy and a starting point for a transformative business model.” 

Similarly to American startup Rent the Runway, La Reina has been allowing women to rent their evening and bridal gowns to each other since its establishment in 2016 by El-Tanawy and Amr Diab. The company has been making waves in the local market for two years, with hundreds of new evening dresses and bridal gowns being added to their curated, expanding their collection every month. The company's database is currently full of millennial who appreciate fashion, and who are economically-savvy. To date, the platform has garnered more than EGP 3.5 million for dress owners. 

“La Reina aims to empower women through women by building Egypt’s biggest designer closet, which started with 15 dresses two years ago. This entire platform is fuelled by none other than women, who want to generate additional income from idle fashion items in the closet,” she tells Startup Scene ME.

La Reina co-founder Ghada El Tanawy at Startup Scene ME's Startup Picnic, hosted a week before the announcement. 

The company also plans to use the acquired investment to expand its team, "We are certainly focusing on the team," says Amr Diab, La Reina’s co-founder, "At La Reina, we realise that people are the start and end point. We are determined to find the best talent in the local market. Our team has tripled in the past two months, and we’re still looking for more spectacular minds."

"Ghada and Amr are two smart, resourceful, and passionate founders with a clear vision of what they want to build," says Algebra Ventures’ Managing Partner, Ziad Mokhtar. "La Reina is taking the first big step in transforming the way Egyptians consume fashion. Startups that go after sizeable multi-billion dollar industries, like fashion, attract Algebra’s attention. La Reina is leveraging shifts in consumer behaviour driven by technology, and that excites us," adds the investor behind the massive $50 fund, which recently partnered with Startup Scene ME to host the Startup Picnic in Cairo.

"E-commerce is the future of retail globally; nonetheless, in Egypt it is still shackled down by many stereotypes and logistical weights. Our goal is to become a leader in the local fashion industry. This market has been growing tremendously during the past couple of years; therefore, it is our duty to push the conventional borders harder and seek to keep pace with the global market," explains Diab, in an interview with Startup Scene ME.

In addition to local investors, La Reina has caught the attention of US-based global venture capital fund, 500 Startups. "We have been watching the La Reina team since the beginning and were impressed with their innovative approach to solving a huge regional pain point. Not only have we seen similar ideas succeed in the US where the pain point is arguably lower than a place like Egypt (where every week seems to have a formal event with strong social pressures requiring women to dress-to-impress), we were delighted to see how La Reina adapted their strategy and business model around the local nuances and needs on both sides of the marketplace," says 500 Startups’ Partner, Sharif El-Badawi.

Main photo by @Mo4Network's #MO4Productions.

Photographer: Ahmed Najeeb. 


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