Theodore L. (“Trey”) Goede III is currently Head of Portfolio Management for Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures, a USD 200mn venture fund launched by Saudi Aramco in 2013 to diversify the Kingdom’s economy and create high-quality Saudi jobs.
After participating in fund formation, Mr Goede helped lead the fund through its first 15 approved transactions in 3.5 years. Mr Goede also currently sits on the Board of Directors of two Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures portfolio companies, Geophysical Equipment Factory Limited, an oil and gas exploration and geophysical equipment manufacturing company, and Virtual Vision, an ICT services company specializing in cloud solutions and infrastructure optimization.
What is the current market climate in the tech sectors and how do you see the future trends?
I have seen the MENA tech sector change dramatically over the past five years, for the better. The ecosystem has significantly evolved with the addition of many necessary stakeholders including incubators, accelerators, universities, corporates, government, investors, etc., and further exits will come. There is still a need for more investors in the region, but the success stories and quality of deal flow should help to lure more people to this market. However, timing is everything, it needs to happen fast.
What do you expect for the coming years when we look at corporate venture capital in the Middle East?
Saudi Aramco was one of the first in the region to set up multiple corporate venture funds, but there are several other active players today. Corporate venturing can provide strategic advantages for portfolio companies if the corporation can help test a product or service, or even better, become a customer. Corporate venturing can also help companies to solve internal problems by looking outside for solutions, so I believe these win-win scenarios will help to push more companies into corporate venture capital initiatives.
How is investing in third party companies helping Saudi Aramco to innovate? What is the long term goal of these investments?
Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures, the $200 million fund that I help to manage, is both financially and socially motivated. Of course, we are looking for viable business ideas that can generate returns, but just as important is the social benefits, such as job creation, diversification, localization and knowledge transfer. Long term, we hope to create or facilitate SME growth and stability in Saudi Arabia and the region.
Besides funding, how do you partner with third party companies?
Funding is just one component, albeit an important one. The non-financial support and collaboration with other stakeholders can sometimes benefit the ecosystem just as much. I work with many incubators, accelerators, universities, governments, conference organisers and investors, to help sow future seeds of success in our market that will lead to additional investment opportunities.
Can you share an example of a successful collaboration with a company you funded?
SafeRoad, an Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures portfolio company, specialises in vehicle or fleet monitoring services. The Company had approximately 3,000 vehicles under management when we first met the entrepreneur a few years ago, and today they are approaching 20,000. SafeRoad has several new initiatives and applications in the works that will complement the core services for many years to come.
What is the next focus for Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures?
Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures is looking to expand on its early successes by increasing the number of funded deals over the coming years. Compared to other venture capital funds over the past four years, Aramco Entrepreneurship Ventures has been the most active one in KSA in terms of the number of deals and ranks in the top five in MENA. We plan to and can do more.
On October 31, 2017, Naseba will be hosting the 3rd MENA Private Equity and Venture Capital Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The primary focus of the summit is to offer a deal flow platform that will introduce representatives of sovereign wealth funds, traditional PE and VC firms, regional conglomerates and family-owned businesses to innovative business cases from around the world.
The summit will combine insightful panels led by key regional and international tech investors and experts and pre-scheduled introductory meetings between up to 30 healthcare, life science and ICT investment opportunities and key regional investors and strategic partners, to raise capital and form strategic and commercial partnerships, in an informed and exclusive environment.
To access the Middle Eastern investors and strategic partners submit your business case here,
Oops! We could not locate your form.
Alternatively, email me at alexbnaseba.com to schedule a meeting with me.
+971 4455 7954