Cornelius James O’donnell, co-founder of RiseUp has joined Elves as Chief Operating Officer, the startup announced today, in a statement to MENAbytes. Founded in 2016 by Karim Elsahy & Abeer Elsisi, Elves pairs people with real assistants (called Elves) that rely on machine learning to help them with finding, booking, buying, and delivering things, anywhere in the world through Facebook Messenger or their mobile apps. They had raised $2 million in one of the largest seed funding rounds of the region at the time from Emaar, the Kauffman Fellows Syndicate, Dubai Angel Investors.
Cornelius is a popular figure in the Egyptian tech ecosystem. He was previously with RiseUp working on business development of the company and left them in June last year.
He has been an active angel investor for years and was one of the first investors in Elves. Some of his other investments include startups like Wuzzuf, Eventtus, and Karim ElSahy’s first startup Konnecti.com.
Speaking about his decision to join Elves, Cornelius told MENAbytes, “I love Elves. I’ve been a delighted user since day one. I was one of the first investors in the company. I’ve seen their tremendous growth, and I see this amazing opportunity to help take the ‘Elves way’ across the world. And for me, personally, there are two main reasons – the desire to work in this team, and the belief that I will add value.”
Elves has recently built a full-fledged OTA (online travel agency) on top of its existing concierge service. The OTA enables users to chat with real assistants for flight bookings and changes, hotels and restaurants recommendations and reservations and anything else that they might need on their trip. (More on that soon in a dedicated piece).
Karim Elsahy, in his conversation with MENAbytes, commented, “We are going to be pushing growth hard in the US – we just set up a small team in LA. It’s operationally very challenging and we couldn’t think of anyone better than Con to help us deliver on our promise. He has been a friend, advisor, and investor from the beginning understands the race we’re in and he’s hit the ground running.”
Cornelius will be working from Elves Cairo office.