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UAE-based social app Hayi raises undisclosed Seed round to expand its footprints across the UAE

Hayi, the UAE-based neighborhood app has secured an undisclosed amount in a Seed round from Plus VC, with participation from other regional angel investors.

Founded in 2020 by Chris Darnell and Rene Morgan, Hayi is a social platform that connects residents of a neighbourhood where they can share news and services. This digital neighbourhood-focused community app takes a very unique approach to virtually connecting everyone and everything in the local area.

“We are honoured to have such strong investors who recognize Hayi’s early achievements, are confident in our growth potential, and actively support our vision and values. Their backing and support will help us achieve our short-term and long-term objectives and pioneer in this space,” said Chris Darnell, co-founder at Hayi.

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The newly raised capital will be deployed to scale up its operations, grow its marketing activities, and expand its footprints across the UAE and beyond.

“Over the past year, our strategy was to create a sticky product to lock in our users and obtain a high user retention and engagement rate. Today, we have become the primary communication channel in vibrant neighbourhoods such as Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) in Dubai. Our goal is to focus on expanding into new areas and fostering a stronger sense of community throughout Dubai and the UAE,” Darnell added.

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Hayi is utilising its first-mover advantage in the region to become MENA’s first neighbourhood app. Inspired by the global successes of unicorn neighbourhood apps such as Nextdoor in the USA and Danggeun Market in South Korea.

Commenting on the fundraising announcement, Hasan Haider, Managing Partner +VC, said: “Community-based apps are gaining traction as there is a growing demand for people to communicate with others in their vicinity. This is evident from the growth Hayi has witnessed month over month. Platforms such as Hayi have great potential for growth as more and more people seek strong neighborhood connectivity, a sense of community and belonging, and improved safety and security. We are delighted to collaborate with Chris, Rene, and their team as they expand their footprints across the UAE and beyond and position Hayi as a trailblazer in this field.” 

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Hayi is based on trust, with each member’s name, residence, and neighbourhood being verified. This adopts accountability and openness, two essential elements of community formation. Its burgeoning neighbourhood community has access to reliable hyperlocal information, helps one another out when needed, completes tasks, and creates discussion. 

Hayi has become the primary communication channel for a collection of neighbourhoods in Dubai, with many local success stories in JVC. For example, besides neighbours discussing the usual local events, getting together for carpools, and re-uniting pet parents with their lost cats, there’s one story in particular that feels like a very ‘Dubai’ story. A lady woke up one morning with a falcon on her balcony. Unsure of how to handle the situation, she turned to her community on Hayi to ask for help, and very quickly, a neighbour in her building came to help her out!

Last year, the Hayi app was selected for Google’s #WeArePlay campaign, which honours and spotlights apps from around the world. Hayi was recognized as one of the few exceptional and favourite apps in the UAE.

In 2021, the company raised a pre-Seed round of $325,000 from Sarya Holdings and Falak Startups.

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Milcah Lukhanyu
Milcah Lukhanyu
I cover tech news across Africa. Drop me an email at [email protected]

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