"We Got Funded!" US-Headquartered Airalo Secures US$60 Million in A Series B Round Led By e& Capital
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Airalo, a US-headquartered eSIM marketplace that makes global connectivity accessible and affordable for travelers worldwide, has raised US$60 million in a Series B round led by e& Capital, the investment arm of UAE-based e&.
Other participating investors include Antler Elevate, Liberty Global, Orange, T.Capital, Rakuten Capital, Singtel Innov8, Telefónica Ventures, Sequoia Capital India and South East Asia’s Surge (now known as Peak XV Partners), KPN Ventures, and I2BF Global Ventures.
This Series B capital injection will help Airalo to expand its community of users and its global team, as well as to introduce Airalo Partners, a connectivity solution tailored to businesses and organizations across the globe.
This investment brings the total funds that Airalo has raised to date to $67.3 million.
Founded in 2019 by Bahadir Ozdemir and Abraham Burak, Airalo offers eSIM packages for more than 200 countries and regions, enabling travelers to instantly connect to mobile networks at their destination.
Commenting on the new investment, Ozdemir said, “Over the past years, Airalo has alleviated the pain points and improved the experience of millions of travelers by providing very affordable and accessible connectivity all around the world. This new consortium of investors will further enable us on our quest to build the gateway to instant connectivity worldwide.”
Kushal Shah, Managing Director, e& capital, added, “We are pleased to lead the Series B financing round for Airalo, a company that has come a long way over the past 18 months with a focus on providing exceptional customer experience. We believe that Airalo has the potential to become a travel essential, and we are excited to support their journey towards becoming the definitive gateway to instant connectivity worldwide.”
When asked to advise other entrepreneurs who are raising funds, Ozdemir starts by pointing out that profitability is a key negotiating leverage. “Being a financially sustainable organization significantly enhances our position in fundraising discussions,” he says. “In our Series A round, even though the funding amount was relatively modest, we encountered heightened stress due to limited runway during our early stages, and less than ideal unit economics typical of early-stage startups. This experience has instilled in us the wisdom to veer away from the conventional unicorn growth narrative that advocates unrestrained spending, opting instead for a balanced approach with a strong focus on building a sustainable business model, while maintaining the vision of achieving unicorn status. Being profitable led to an easier Series B round.”
His second piece of advice for entrepreneurs is to always be thoroughly prepared for legal and financial due diligence. “Successfully convincing investors is just the beginning of the challenges during fundraising,” he explains. “Equally demanding is the subsequent process of undergoing thorough legal and financial due diligence. Ensuring meticulous organization and documentation of every aspect of our company and operations is critical to facilitating a smooth and efficient due diligence process. By having our financial and legal affairs meticulously in order, we have significantly expedited the due diligence proceedings.”
Lastly, Ozdemir highlights the importance of discerning investor engagement and managing demands. “Fundraising involves a substantial number of meetings, necessitating a streamlined approach,” he says. “Creating a comprehensive data room is paramount, as it serves as the primary resource for about 90% of genuinely interested investors. Investors who seek multiple meetings to ascertain their interest are often not committed to investing. Part of our role is to identify and terminate such time-consuming discussions to focus our efforts on engaging with investors who demonstrate genuine intentions and commitment to our venture.”
Airalo’s website and app are currently available in 22 languages, with an expansion plan to offer support in 53 languages in the near future. Airalo states that its app currently boasts a rating of 4.7 stars on the App Store and 4.6 stars on the Google Play Store, while being the #1 travel app in mobile app stores in multiple countries, further affirming its user satisfaction.
In terms of its workforce, Airalo makes use of a remote-first approach that has resulted in a diverse team of over 250 professionals hailing from 44 countries and six continents. “Overall, we have a participative management culture where team members create their own deliberative processes when building and executing their projects based on general key objectives guidelines that speak to reason,” Burak says. “This helps with identifying with, instead of blindly following, one’s work agenda, which helps with productivity.”
Burak adds that the co-founders have 11 direct reports, and their role as leaders thus becomes more about merging with the collective mind of the executives committee, rather than direct line management. “The biggest leadership lesson is perhaps that the leadership is very prone to be afflicted by the disease of egotism, especially when there is continuous success,” he says. “Every moment of ‘hubris’ that makes one lose touch with reality leads to a moment of ‘nemesis,’ a loss, a downfall in the moment. One then constantly needs to focus on every day reminders around the fact that we all belong to an inherently foolish species, and we are nowhere near a full understanding or a sense of completeness.”