Overcoming failure, Jordan’s Wheels Express founder launches logistics startup in Dubai

When we last caught up with Ibrahim Manna, he was just closing down his delivery startup, Wheels Express, one of Jordan’s early successes.

At the time, the story seemed like a cautionary tale for those navigating the treacherous waters of angel investment. Manna had scaled Wheels into a successful local delivery service, with a loyal base of customers happily ordering groceries to their homes and sending clothes out for laundry.

In early 2012, after running the company for almost three years, Manna decided that he needed to prove to investors that he could reach new markets. Most startups scale aggressively only after they’ve secured a round of funding, but Wheels had little choice. “All of the investors I met with wanted to see us operate in either Saudi or the UAE,” says Manna.

Once he hired the team and opened the offices to scale, however, margins took a hit, and his investors- Imad Malhas of Irisguard and Karim Kawar, the former Jordanian ambassador to the U.S., as well as Oasis500, decided not to enter the next round. Wheels quickly ran out of cash given the cost of expansion, and never reached the Saudi market.

At the time, getting over failure was tough, says Manna, but Malhas encouraged him to pick himself back up and get on to the next thing.

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