"We take bets on founders as individuals able to execute and have the right skill sets to build a strong company," Techstars Dubai's director, Ramzy Ismail tells Startup Scene ME, after their Demo Day on April 17th.
Techstars Dubai Accelerator joined hands with GINCO to host a demo day at Park Hyatt Dubai on April 17th, where nine companies from the inaugural Dubai class pitched their ideas to prospective investors and startup community enthusiasts. The demo day was a result of a 13-week program, in which the teams took part in more than 600 meetings, workshops, and mentoring sessions within Emirates Towers' startup hub, Area 2071. In line with Techstars mantra of "give first," more than 70 external mentors from Dubai and the greater Techstars network helped them refine their business strategies and provided feedback, coaching and insights.
GINCO’s investment arm, alongside Techstars, provided over $1 million in direct investments to the founders as part of a multi-year $5 million commitment from GINCO Group for investments, programming, infrastructure, and staffing. In addition, each team had access to over 152 partner perks, from legal support to infrastructure credits, tier 1 enterprise support and consultation from Amazon Web Services, valued at $2.5 million from Techstars global network.
Techstars invests $120,000 USD for 6 percent. "That is by far greater than all accelerators and evens some angel investments with far less equity," Techstars Dubai Accelerator's director Ramzy Ismail tells Startup Scene ME. "That cash is a lump sum before the program starts, meant to help the companies focus on growth and product."
"The market needs these nine companies urgently enough that these founders have found some product, market, or other proxy traction, built teams, and identified a relevant pain points to solve," Ismail adds. The common thread between all companies in the Techstars Dubai program is the strong technical founders, relevant commercial, academic or technical experience, products or businesses solving for local needs with global application, traction in one form or another, relevance to Dubai's growing markets such as construction, artificial intelligence, machine learning, e-Commerce, and autonomous drones.
Felix is a software platform to connect emerging market insurers, intermediaries, and their customers. The software automates a broker’s non-value add, time-consuming and labour intensive back-office workflows allowing them to allocate resources to high-impact activities like sales and support. Felix also helps insurers by allowing them to quickly and easily integrate with their various distribution channels such as brokers, banks, auto-dealers, and aggregators.
Revolutionising metropolitan life by providing air transportation for everyone and everything, Flugauto is changing the way cargo is being moved by becoming the partner of choice for large global corporations that want to transport heavy payloads, and leveraging a proprietary electrically-powered vertical take-off and landing vehicle design that offers all the benefits of a helicopter, at the price points of a conventional car.
Klasha is a forward-thinking, online, fast-fashion retailer for customers in their early twenties with fast delivery to West Africa. The company believes that all millennials across the globe should have access to the fashion they want, thus it offers payments in local currencies, fast shipping globally including to West Africa, easy returns and the latest in womenswear at affordable prices.
4. Natufia Labs
Natufia is the self-proclaimed Nespresso for plants and herbs. Today, restaurants and private individuals struggle to source high-quality vegetables consistently and all year long. The organic market is booming, but the traditional agriculture cannot follow the demand sustainably. Natufia Labs have developed a machine learning technology which grows the most nutritious and organic plants right where the food is consumed and at any time of year. Their first model is a high-end indoor garden, The Natufia Kitchen Garden.
Novele is a real estate technology company that designs and develops solutions for the building in the digital age. Their first product, Energy Board, is an infinitely scalable Internet of Things battery system for commercial and residential buildings in ultra-dense cities. It has a revolutionary ultra-thin wall mounted design, achieves market-leading lifespan, has greatly reduced installation time, and does not take up any valuable and revenue generating floor space. Energy Board additionally can take on the look of any building interior, seamlessly disappearing into the design of the building. Novele only services cities and sells direct to real estate developers, building owners and managers, and other businesses.
Helping the industrial workforce to see, learn and work better by leveraging AR and AI technologies, Nytilus is developing a new generation of AR/AI helmets and software platform for industrial applications, especially welding. Their UV/IR safe helmets increase the efficiency of welders by providing real time welding metrics and a clear view of the welding environment, while collecting data to enable robots to perform welding tasks in the future.
OmniX is a trained machine vision platform enabling businesses and customers to create actionable insights from any captured moment anytime, anywhere. By processing and analysing video images, OmniX enables businesses and customers to build applications with image recognition capability without the need to invest in and maintain their own machine learning teams.
Soluki, on the other hand, is working to help to bring simple web development solutions to the Arab-speaking world. The company's first product is a browser-based application that enables Arabic speakers to build business-driving websites with zero coding experience, even using a mobile device.
9. TPS Engage
TPS Engage is the first platform in the world to offer permanent contextual advertising features for outdoor advertising. TPS Engage is on a mission to provide a unified buying experience for everyone, across all out-of-home networks, without limitations, where demand drives pricing and audience drives content.
The nine companies pitched before a collection of global and regional investors as well as veteran entrepreneurs. Before they reach that stage they went through a selection process that included the top 20 companies Techstars had filtered in their recruitment process, Ismail reveals. The selection committee involves the managing and program directors of Techstars program, the business development team of the Techstars HQ, Techstars Ventures partners. "If it is a corporate program we will include our corporate partners such as CxO, M&A/Corporate development or Innovation teams, and sometimes external guests that can be made up of trusted mentors, investors, or program volunteers such as entrepreneurs-in-residence," says Ismail.
The selection committee's focus is on exceptional entrepreneurs who can adapt to changes in their product, strategy and consumer or market dynamics. "We take bets on founders as individuals able to execute and have the right skill sets to build a strong company. We often invest in companies at the earliest stages because of founders with exceptional track records professionally, academically or technically," he concludes.
Photography by MO4 Productions.
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