10 Digital Startup Accelerators To Look Out for in 2015
The startup accelerator landscape in the MENA has come a long way in the past decade since the models set by the first pioneers started maturing. 2015 will witness a number of milestones for many accelerators in the region. The rapid shift to a competitive technologically-driven economy has taken the traditional business launching track by storm and ushered in the era of digital entrepreneurship. There is certainly no shortage of ideas, and investors are just waiting for the all-clear.
This is where accelerators come in to bring method and perspective to this buzzing scene. As the big picture has come into focus, it is easier to outline what type of support each startup requires for growth. Unlike incubators, accelerators usually look for startups with MVPs, although some accelerators propose A to Z services to entrepreneurs from the idea phase to product commercialization. A few accelerators even have educational programs in order to spread the culture of entrepreneurship.
The following accelerators are relatively new players, along with some of their more established peers, who are expected to make headlines and meet deadlines this year:
|Started in 2014 – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates
Board: Juan José de la Torre, Viktor Kiriakos, Tina Yazdi
|Afkar.me is dedicated to supporting the growth of the region’s digital sector by sourcing, incubating and developing innovative business ideas from startups and entrepreneurs. It is the first full spectrum digital incubator developed in the MENA region that gives entrepreneurs everything they require to bring their ideas to life. The accelerator values diversity and original thinking. Afkar.me made an initial investment in the 3 finalist companies from its first batch of applicants that included 70 companies from 18 countries. The accelerator chose not to take any equity and elected instead to get a percentage of revenues from these companies.
Originality in the digital world is an essential pre-requisite for any company to be selected by Afkar.me. The accelerator then interviews applicants and selects 5 finalists to attend its Startup Weekend where they will be trained on delivering pitches and improving their business models. A panel of experts will choose the winning pitches and the idea owners will be awarded seed funding (starting at $20,000), as well as mentorship and expert guidance, office space and, most importantly, access to the MENA market.
Portfolio includes: Bitesized, The Dress Room, The Curve
|Since 2001 – Lebanon
Board: Led by Maroun Chammas
| Berytech has assisted more than 2,000 entrepreneurs through its different outreach programs. The center has hosted more than 150 companies, granted over $350,000 to startups and invested $4M in Lebanese technology companies. Launched in 2008, the Berytech Fund (with over $6M under management) specifically addresses innovative companies seeking to grow their business. Berytech is the first and only center in the Middle East to receive the Business Innovation Center (BIC) accreditation from the European Commission. Berytech is also a member of the European Business Network (EBN), giving its companies access to international networks.
Berytech proposes a range of services that target companies at different stages of their development, from projects to startups and mature entities. Berytech offers direct grants starting at $10,000 and up to $50,000 or $100,000. Project holders may then choose to be incubated and hosted by Berytech up to and during their startup phase. In this acceleration period, they benefit from close follow-up, as well as advice and mentoring. Hosting services are also extended to established companies who wish to move into Berytech premises. The Berytech Fund invests seed capital in technology companies, with amounts ranging from $50,000 to $1.2M for the first round, for a share of equity.
Portfolio includes: Baldati, Cook&Eat, Dermandar
|Flat6Labs – Abu Dhabi|
|Started in November 2014 – United Arab Emirates
Board: Ahmed El Alfi and Hany Al-Sonbaty from Sawari Ventureshttp://www.flat6labs.com/location/abudhabi/#top
| Thanks to its quick grasp of the local business scenery, Flat6Labs became the biggest Egyptian accelerator shortly after its launch in Cairo (2011). In 2013, Flat6Labs started its first overseas expansion in Jeddah. A year later in 2014, it partnered with twofour54 to inaugurate its new Abu Dhabi offices. Flat6Labs spotted Nina Curley, former Editor-in-Chief at Wamda news service, and appointed her Managing Director of their Abu Dhabi operations. The first cycle of acceleration at Flat6Labs Abu Dhabi is set to begin in February 2015. Flat6Labs is a member of the Global Accelerator Networks (GAN) founded by TechStars.
Flat6Labs Abu Dhabi expects to have more than 20 companies every year, divided into 2 cycles. The company aims to graduate some 80 companies in its first 4 years, with particular attention to digital content, e-commerce, social media and citizen journalism, media and video production, and mobile applications. Selected startups receive $30,000-$50,000 in seed funding, in exchange for 7-15% equity stake. This seed funding is accompanied by focused mentorship, business training and workshops, office space, legal support and a multitude of benefits and services from GAN partners for a value equal to or exceeding $300,000.
Portfolio includes: Codly, Instabug, Ogra Software
|Started in 2012 – United Arab Emirates
Board: Kamal Hassan, Hasan Rayan, Tariq Syed, Mohammed Hamdyhttp://i360accelerator.com/
| 360accelerator is a platform developed by Innovation 360, an innovation management consulting firm in the GCC. Acceleration is broiken down into an equation at i360accelerator. The platform offers an well-organized and standardized acceleration formula to entrepreneurs with ideas it deems truly original. The hype is mainly around i360accelertor’s co-working space, The Cribb. This high-tech cozy ecosystem is designed to encourage a relaxed atmosphere conducive to creativity and efficiency during startups’ incubation period. The Cribb also doubles as a hosting space for established companies, offering them state-of-the-art computer and tech support, as well as other facilities.
Entrepreneurs pitch their ideas online at the start of each round. Selected candidates then go through i360accelerator’s signature 120-day acceleration period for entrepreneurs, divided into 30 days for validating ideas, 60 days to develop a prototype and another 30 days for launching and pitching. After that, the new enterprise enters another 120-day post-acceleration demo period to benefit from additional investor networking and continued support. Each future startup receives seed funding worth $30,000 both in cash and services, in exchange for a 10%-20% equity and/or IP.
Portfolio includes: Crowd Analyzer, KinTrans, Stationery.ae
|Started in 2013 – Egypt
Board: Led by Tarek Nasr
| JuiceLabs is a young, dynamic and well-connected enterprise. Entrepreneurship in Egypt is a very new concept and JuiceLabs treats it as a full-fledged revolution both socially and economically. As such, it believes entrepreneurship should not be dealt with lightly. It chooses to host only a limited number of digital startups every year. This allows it to keep things better focused and ensure the startups receive the undivided attention of the mentoring team during the acceleration period. JuiceLabs also provides office space and support for creative content design through the digital creative agency, The Planet.
For each 6-month acceleration cycle, JuiceLabs selects only 2 startups at their MVP development stage to deliver a personalized program tailor-made to the nature of their business and its needs. Each startup receives up to $50,000 in funding from individual investors, both in cash and in-kind services, including legalcounsel, hands-on consultation in UI & UX, product development and optimization, as well as business development and strategy. In return, JuiceLabs requires a low equity stake between 10% and 20%.
Portfolio includes: Wall Street Chamber
|Started in 2010 – Jordan
Board: Led by Usama Fayyad
| 2015 will be a milestone year for Oasis500. The accelerator promised to address the lack of seed and early stage funding for technology ventures in Jordan by accelerating 500 companies in 5 years, hence the name Oasis500. The deadline expires within 2016 so things could prove to become interesting this year. Oasis500 was Jordan’s first early stage accelerator and incubator for tech companies. It targets entrepreneurs with creative ideas in Information Technology (IT), Mobile and Digital Media, and provides them with an initial fund as well as an in-kind investment that includes training and mentorship.
Portfolio includes: i3zif, Little Thinking Minds, Shopgo
|Started in 2011 – Jordan
Board: Emile Cubaisy, Namek Zu’bi, Hagop Taminian
| Silicon Badia is an initiative started by Accelerator Technology Holdings in Jordan, one of the region’s first institutional venture capital investors established in 2005. The accelerator focuses on early-stage investments for technology companies in Jordan and the Middle East. Since its inception in 2011, Silicon Badia has built extensive links and networks between the Middle East and the US to maximize opportunities. With offices in Amman and New York, the accelerator has effectively asserted itself as a platform for regional entrepreneurs and ventures to expand beyond their local roots to a global scale.
Silicon Badia runs 2 venture capital funds. The Badia Impact Fund provides support, networks and capital investment in early-stage startups in the technology sector, with a geographic focus on Jordan and the Middle East. The Badia Outreach Fund is a seed and early-stage fund that invests in US technology ventures. In addition, Silicon Badia manages the Launchpad, a 3-month program that takes globally competitive startups and entrepreneurs from the Middle East into the heart of technology and entrepreneurship ecosystems in the US and accelerates them. Selected companies receive $25,000-$50,000 in seed investment in exchange for a small amount of equity.
Portfolio includes: ArabiaWeather.com, dakwak, Oasis500
|Started in 2010 – MENA, US
Board: Led by Ossama Hassanein
|Silicon Valley-based TechWadi has evolved from a network of Arab-American technology professionals into a powerful non-profit global platform for cooperation and innovation. TechWadi mobilizes the expatriate community to stimulate economic development in the MENA by supporting high-impact entrepreneurship. It provides educational, and mentorship to turn entrepreneurs’ ideas into global businesses, contributing to sustainable economic development and job creation. In 2014 TechWadi accelerated the 3 winners of the MIT Arab Startup Competition in Silicon Valley, and it looks forward to expanding its program in 2015.
TechWadi’s community based approach to mentorship and acceleration gives entrepreneurs access to an ecosystem of resources, customized to their direct needs to guarantee maximum impact. MENA entrepreneurs receive startup coaching, advising and valuable networking opportunities with Silicon Valley corporations. Startups get the chance to pitch their projects to unrivalled investors at the prestigious F50 Demo Day (participants in the first F50 Demo Day raised over $10M). In addition, startups receive Google Cloud services for a total value of $100,000 or a full year with the help of Google for Entrepreneurs.
Portfolio includes: eTobb, FoodLve, Skill Academy
|Started in 2013 – United Arab Emirates
Board: Yousif Almutawa, Kamal Hassan, Afzal Khalfay, Mohammed Hamdy, Tariq Syed
| TURN8 was recently launched by DP World, one of the largest marine terminal operators and developers in the world. It is powered by i360accelerator and follows a similar methodology. TURN8 looks beyond the UAE for startups; it holds idea pitching events in different countries, which gives it the ability to derive innovative and commercially-viable ideas cumulatively from across the world. Idea owners who are selected by TURN8 relocate to Dubai to undergo acceleration. In doing so, the accelerator seeks to encourage the local market to foster and develop a sustainable innovation and entrepreneurial culture.
TURN8 follows the same 120-day model as i360accelerator. Future entrepreneurs present their ideas online or at one of TURN8’s idea pitching events held in different countries. 10 startups are then selected to receive up to $30,000 in seed investment (cash and/or services) in exchange for a small equity. Startups then undergo acceleration at i360accelerator’s coworking space The Cribb. Startups have to validate their ideas, develop a prototype and deliver a pitch to potential investors for future growth. Afterwards, they enter another 120-day post-acceleration demo period and receive support from expert investor relations to pitch their ideas to more investors.
Portfolio includes: eYamakan, JunkBot, s-Mart
|Started in 2011 – Saudi Arabia
Initiated by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and directed by Teo Uysal
| The New Ventures group is an initiative by the KAUST in collaboration with major Fortune 500 companies, family businesses and startups. The program focuses on early-stage technology development from idea generation to prototype development and commercialization. It facilitates product development and provides access to next-generation technology on and off campus to deliver innovation to the Saudi Arabian economy. The KAUST Entrepreneurship Center also hosts guest lecturers, industry leaders and entrepreneurial visionaries for the KAUST community, industry partners, and invited guests.
New Ventures offers entrepreneurs a Pre-Seed Fund of up to $30,000 over 3 months to help them take their idea to the marketplace by completing comprehensive market research. At the next level, the KAUST Seed Fund helps those entrepreneurs develop commercial prototypes. The Seed Fund offers up to $200,000 in financial support over 24 months, as well access to industry experts and mentors through the Entrepreneurship Center, particularly its 10-week VentureLab program
Portfolio includes: 3D Print Your Imagination, NOMADD, Xplor
Published by www.arabnet.me on February 03, 2015.