SOKNA, the Egypt-based company offering end-to-end funeral services to honor the deceased and ease the process for their families, has closed a $1 million seed round with participation from leading regional and international funds.
The investors include the Silicon Valley-based Mentors Fund, SBX Capital, ACE & Company, and Kabnoury Ventures, in addition to a cohort of highly strategic angel investors including Onsi Sawiris (Co-founder and Managing Partner of New York-based HOF Capital), Dr. Khaled AlMutabagani from Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Sadek El Sewedy and Farouk Kadous of ElSewedy Family Capital, Hisham Halbouny (Partner at London-based Mansour Capital), Mo El-Bibany (Founder and General Partner at Page One Ventures), Youssri Helmy (Founder and Managing Director of ITWorx, CEO of Si-Ware), Mostafa Amin (Co-founder and CEO of Breadfast), as well as senior executives from tech giants Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and other prominent angel investors.
“SOKNA’s team operates with an extraordinary unity of compassion and tech-fueled efficiency,” says Onsi Sawiris. “For too long, the funeral industry in Egypt has been largely stigmatized and fragmented. We believe that SOKNA has all the ingredients to radically disrupt this space and we’re excited to back them as they broaden their ambition.”
“With this new funding and the incredible group of partners that joined us, we are ready to scale across the country and be able to support more families during the difficult times of grieving loved ones,” says Ahmed Gaballah, Founder and CEO of SOKNA. “As a mission driven team, we always have our ‘why’ at the forefront: to allow people to focus on the farewell instead of the paperwork, and to honor departing souls and their families by alleviating the logistical pain of those moments.”
Since launching in late 2020, the company has enjoyed a rapid expansion – growing threefold in the past year alone. To date, SOKNA has operational partnerships with 20 hospitals and corporates in Greater Cairo alone, has amassed more than 70 partner vendors, and has performed more than 2,500 funerals.
The company staffing has expanded accordingly, with 50+ full-time employees providing a full array of professional funerary services from end-to-end. SOKNA’s services include support in releasing burial permits and paperwork, body preparation, cemetery set-up, transportation, hall and condolences service bookings, obituaries, personalized sadaqa giveaways, and post-loss support.
“We’re extremely proud of how far SOKNA has come in a relatively short period of time, and it just comes to show what the power of a truly strong team can do,” says Charles Lorenceau, Founding Partner at ACE & Company. “We were impressed by the fact that Gaballah had quit his impressive career in Silicon Valley working for Google, Facebook, and Adobe, to create this company and that he spent years understanding the local practices and customs behind this major life event. We are confident that he is the best to utilize technology to lead SOKNA and are glad to be part of the journey serving such a noble cause.”
SOKNA is also playing an active role in shifting the culture regarding the willingness to discuss death. The company launched a Pre-Planning Program where people can make logistical decisions early on to guarantee more peace of mind for themselves or their loved ones when the time comes.
“We were surprised to find that there is indeed a growing demand for families and individuals to make prior funeral arrangements with us – a discussion which was previously deemed as taboo,” added Gaballah. Additionally, SOKNA has secured several corporate agreements for employers to support their employees during times of loss by sponsoring, subsidizing, or getting discounted rates for the services as part of their employee benefits.
Giving back to the community, SOKNA has created an ecosystem for everyone involved in the traditional death management services, allowing practitioners more training, more job opportunities, and higher motivation as they work with a team that has a solid vision and purpose. The company also donates any and all gratuities that customers insist on paying to the Children Cancer Hospital in Egypt, 57357.
SOKNA intends to grow their team and has broader ambitions to extend their services and products through augmenting their technology to enable scalability and geographically expanding to more cities in Egypt in the very near future.