Dubai-based global online search company meekd.com has raised its first round of seed funding for an undisclosed amount from UAE-based film production and distribution company Xmovies and an angel investor.
meekd.com, a search engine that ensures that sponsored results and paid-content are not prioritized and not ranked above real organic search results, officially launched on February 1, 2019, under its Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (Dtec)-based parent company AlphaNumeric Inc.
The company, which currently handles more than 200,000 searches per day and has become the highest ranked startup of the UAE as reported by Alexa’s Global Web Ranking, plans to use the funds to upgrade its IT infrastructure for continued product innovation and acquire talent to cope with user growth.
A model that contradicts the likes of Google, meekd’s search engine algorithm considers user “votes” to rank web pages, meekd co-founder and CEO Muhannad AlDarrai explained.
The search engine has handled a total of more than eight million searches so far and released a new set of features on August 1, 2020, he added. These include ‘Trending News’ that delivers “news cards”, which present stories collated from different news outlets for each trending topic and are updated every 15 minutes.
“For example if the trending story right now is ‘US elections’, you will find articles written by CNN, Fox News, Gulf News, and others, covering this specific story in one news card,” he said.
Meanwhile, search results for some specific topics like ‘UAE’ and ‘Expo 2020’ are also delivered in the form of ‘Snapshot’ information cards.
“When searching for some specific topics on meekd.com, we show our users a complete summary about that specific topic in [both] text [format as well as] photos and videos,” he explained.
“For video search, we show a variety of results from different videos and social media website like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. We are working on refining further the video results to be as relevant as possible to the user’s query now that we’ve figured out how to scrape data from these websites, which no search engine is currently doing.”
meekd also has plans to add ‘Weather’ and ‘Dictionary’ features in the coming months.
The search engine was born after AlDarrai and his former colleague and now co-founder Sameer Nath noticed that search for regional information using a typical search engine did not deliver the most relevant or accurate results. The duo was also frustrated by pages riddled with paid-for results and sponsored listings that make is difficult for non-paying businesses to be found and attract visitors.
“We believe that the ranking of the online search results should not be controlled by corporationsand cryptic algorithms,” AlDarrai insisted.
But this was a concept that was “extremely” difficult to sell to investors.
After bootstrapping the business for close to two years, AlDarrai said he believes the funding ultimately came because of meekd’s visible and undeniable growth in search numbers.