2023 has proven particularly hard on startups as venture capital dries up due to a global economic downturn, brought about by a number of agents. From inflation to the Russian-Ukraine war, climate change, and hard-to-subdue high interest rates, they all contributed to a calamitous year for entrepreneurs seeking funds. The sector that most benefitted from VC funding was the AI and technology field.
The UAE has bucked the trend, both on a macro level with high growth and booming tourism and real estate sectors, but also on a micro level with SMEs.
In this context, LinkedIn unveiled its Top Startups List for 2023, highlighting the top 10 UAE companies that experienced exceptional growth in 2023.
The startup sector has benefitted from a resilient UAE labor market where hiring has surged 49 percent last August compared to August 2019.
The Top Startups for 2023 in the UAE
- The Giving Movement
- Pure Harvest Smart Farms
- Yolk Brands
Automotive services climb to the top of the list
ekar (#1) and CAFU (#2) reflect the growth of the automotive industry, including rentals and mobile car fuelling.
As mentioned, tech companies flourished in 2023, not only globally but also in the UAE. Fintechs dominated the UAE list, with some even making an appearance for the second year in a row such as the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform Tabby (#8). Other fintechs on the list included YAP (#7), a smart digital banking app and first-timer NymCard (#9), a payment-issuing and processing platform.
Rise of the F&B
This year’s list shows growth in F&B platforms and businesses with companies like Yolk Brands (#6), a restaurant investment company behind homegrown fast-food chains like Pickl and BonBird, and Grubtech (#10), a platform supporting omnichannel restaurants and cloud kitchens, debuting on the top 10 list this year.
To be eligible, companies must be fully independent, privately held, have 30 or more full-time employees, be 7 years old or younger and be headquartered in the country on whose list they appear.
LinkedIn excludes from the list all staffing firms, think tanks, venture capital firms, law firms, management and IT consulting firms, nonprofits and philanthropy, accelerators and government-owned entities.
Also, startups who have laid off 20% or more of their workforce based on corporate announcements or public, reliable sources between July 1, 2022 and the list launch are not eligible.
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