The MENA region has a fast-growing mobile gaming market that is expected to triple its current value in the next 5 years reaching $2.3 billion. While historically, most strategic mobile games have been created for other markets such as the US or China and adapted for the region – the team at FunRock have taken a different approach with their game, Etihad Al Abtal.
We interviewed CEO David Wallinder and CMO Magdy Shehata of FunRock, the first mobile game development company catering specifically to the MENA region. David and Magdy, the Swedish-Egyptian duo who embody the aim of the trip of linking Egypt and Sweden, joined our delegation trip to the RiseUp Summit in Cairo in December 2017. The trip was organised in partnership with the Swedish Institute and the Embassy of Sweden in Cairo.
tell us a little about your backgrounds:
David: I started programming when I was 12 when I would make my own websites and games, so in a way, I’ve been an entrepreneur since then. I got my master’s degree in business economics and have since been part of a lot of different companies in various capacities including as advisor, board member, and mentor for other startups. Then I worked for two years in venture capital doing investments. In 2014, I founded FunRock.
Magdy: Similar to David, I first learned programming when I was 11 or 12 years old and would write and sell code. I studied computer engineering in Egypt and then moved to Sweden where I got my master’s in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management. I’m now working on my PhD in Entrepreneurial Marketing and Economics at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, KTH. I was working in Sweden when I heard about a Swedish gaming company trying to break into the Middle East market. I thought it sounded so crazy that I had to learn more. As soon as I met David, he turned out to be so crazy that I had to join him.
“In some sense, American and European entrepreneurs, we always think in terms of finance and where the next investment will come from whereas in Egypt, the focus seems very much on finding solutions: they see a need, they want to address it, and it is critical to address it.”