MAPPING THE RIYADH TECH SECTOR


A research project led by Endeavor Insight
in partnership with Endeavor Saudi Arabia

Strategic Partner

Supporting Partner

Ecosystem Partner

Supporting Funders

  • Endeavor Saudi Arabia
  • Board Members
  • Musaab Almuhaidb
  • Rami Alturki
  • Abdulmohsin Alrabiah
  • Ibrahim Aljammaz
  • Fares Bugshan
  • Ahmed Hamdan
  • Dalal Almutlaq

 

About the Research

The purpose of the study is to provide insights on the sector’s current state, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, and enable decision makers to better understand and support local tech entrepreneurship. This report focuses on the entrepreneurship community in the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but takes into account select companies from throughout the region that contribute toward the local ecosystem.

Key Findings

  • Riyadh’s tech sector has grown rapidly. Fifty percent of companies were founded in the past five years, but only 18 percent of those young companies have reached the scale of 50 or more employees. The growth of the ecosystem has accelerated in recent years from VCs, government initiatives, universities, and globally connected support organizations.
  • Successes in the tech sector are examples of Saudi Arabia’s growing diversity, inclusion, and innovation. Companies that scale are more likely to have founders with specialized professional experience and who are well-connected with other founders.
  • Saudi Arabia has the potential to become a regional hub for tech entrepreneurship in the Middle East with its considerable untapped market. However, founders are experiencing challenges that are preventing them from growing faster. A vast majority of founders who participated in this study reported needing to hire tech talent from outside of Saudi Arabia. Increased coordination to address founders’ needs would help retain the country’s most promising and valuable companies.

About the Data

The findings are based on more than 70 interviews with tech entrepreneurs conducted from September to November 2021, and data on more than 340 companies and their founders. In addition, data was collected on more than 250 support organizations and investment firms that support the local tech community.

Read the Report

 

Mapping the Riyadh Tech Sector

April 2022

Download Report


 

Riyadh Network Maps

Endeavor Insight used social network analysis to visualize the Riyadh tech sector. This methodology helps trace the flow of people, capital, and information among entrepreneurs, their co-founders, employees, mentors, investors, and other stakeholders.

The bubbles on the maps represent either an entrepreneurial company or other organizations providing resources. The position of the bubble corresponds to the year that it was founded, with older companies on the inner rings and younger companies on the outer rings. The size of a bubble on the map is a function of the number of first-, second-, third-, etc. degree connections that the bubble has with others in the network. Founders who have started multiple companies are represented by their most prominent company or organization.

 

Ecosystem Actors and Supporting Systems

 

The local tech sector is fortunate to have a robust community of entrepreneurs and supporting organizations. Those with the most relative influence appear as the largest bubbles on the map. See the full report for a more detailed analysis and interpretation of the complete network map.

Riyadh’s tech founders attended a range of universities that helped them prepare to launch their companies. See the full report for additional analysis and a map showing the differences between local and international universities.

Investment firms are providing the tech sector with capital that is helping the ecosystem to thrive.

A number of local and international organizations are providing services and mentorship to Riyadh’s tech sector. These include accelerators, incubators, and other forums.

Companies with at least one female founder are an important part of the local ecosystem. This map shows which organizations are providing resources to companies with women founders.

Founder Connectivity

 

Founder-to-founder connectivity is important to the growth of the local ecosystem. This map includes select companies from outside of Riyadh that are contributing to that development. See the full report for more information.

Founders that receive mentorship or angel investment from other experienced founders are more likely to scale. This type of connection is extremely important to the ecosystem.

Founders who go on to start additional companies bring with them important experience and are assets to a thriving ecosystem.

Founders who have worked at other tech companies gain important experience prior to launching their own business.


 

About Endeavor

We are the leading global community of, by, and for high-impact entrepreneurs — those who dream bigger, scale faster, and pay it forward.

  • Our Core Belief: High-Impact Entrepreneurs transform economies.
  • What We Do: We create a Multiplier Effect by inspiring high-growth entrepreneurs to dream bigger, supporting and investing in them to scale faster, and providing a platform to pay it forward.
  • Why We Do It: To build thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems in emerging and underserved markets around the world.

Endeavor Insight is the research division of Endeavor that provides data-driven analysis and visualizations showing what makes entrepreneurial ecosystems thrive. Our research team of economists, data scientists, and policy analysts specializes in understanding the needs of high-impact entrepreneurs and evaluating the networks that enable them to scale up and pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs. For more information, contact [email protected].

 

About Endeavor Saudi Arabia

Endeavor Saudi Arabia was launched in 2012 and set up as an independent non-profit organization supported by its founding board members who lead Endeavor’s mission and goals in the Kingdom.

Arabic translation by OceanX.