AC­CESS TO MAR­KETS

FIG­URE 7. TYPE OF SUP­PORT SER­VICES AVAIL­ABLE TO TECH STAR­TUPS

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Entrepreneurship -

Ap­prox­i­mately two fifths of sur­veyed star­tups state the need for sup­port of pull mar­ket­ing, such as in­flu­encer re­views (47%) and wordof-mouth/re­fer­ral com­mu­ni­ca­tion (34%), to play a key role in ac­quir­ing new busi­ness. Fi­nan­cial con­sid­er­a­tions re­flect two fifths of the sup­port needed to at­tract new busi­ness, such as mar­ket­ing and sales bud­gets (43%). Although in­vestors pro­mot­ing tech star­tups’ prod­ucts/ser­vices (13%) scores low on the sup­port needed scale; cor­po­rate will­ing­ness and open­ness to use star­tups’ ser­vices ranks high at 40%.

Cherpa is a soft­ware so­lu­tion hail­ing from Le­banon that man­ages and or­ga­nizes how ro­bot­ics and elec­tron­ics classes are taught in uni­ver­si­ties and schools and aims to make teach­ing ro­bot­ics fun and in­clu­sive for chil­dren, through games and other in­ter­ac­tive chal­lenges that in­clude cod­ing and vir­tual mis­sions. Cherpa is the first in Le­banon to bring AI to the class­room and also in­structs stu­dents on ro­bot­ics, some­thing not widely taught in the re­gion.

Cherpa uses a chat­bot that acts as a vir­tual in­struc­tor and guides the users (mostly young stu­dents) through the en­tire cod­ing jour­ney. Stu­dents be­gin by se­lect­ing one of the many avail­able sub­jects: as­tron­omy, medicine, agri­cul­ture, etc. and are then given an over­view of the les­son with its learn­ing ob­jec­tives be­fore build­ing and cod­ing a phys­i­cal cir­cuit.

Ibrahim Ezze­dine and Basel Jalalle­dine, who were room­mates to­gether at the Le­banese Amer­i­can Univer­sity and started the univer­sity’s ro­bot­ics club, founded Cherpa. Cherpa has par­tic­i­pated in sev­eral startup com­pe­ti­tions in­clud­ing Speedbdd’s 4th Demo Day, where it won $50K, and was also se­lected for Leb­net’s Ig­nite ac­cel­er­a­tion and men­tor­ship pro­gram in Sil­i­con Val­ley.

In the past 3 months, Cherpa has launched the cod­ing sec­tion for its Beta test­ing, con­verted 70 of the 100 test users to pay­ing cus­tomers, qual­i­fied as semi-fi­nal­ists in MITEF’S Pan Arab Com­pe­ti­tion, and is cur­rently look­ing for $250K in fund­ing.

Dhad is an Ara­bic au­dio­books pro­ducer and pub­lisher hail­ing from Saudi Ara­bia and was founded by Ma­nar Saud Alo­mayri who re­al­ized there was a ma­jor gap be­tween au­dio­books avail­able in Evey is a Tu­nisian web and mo­bile so­cial plat­form that helps com­mu­ni­ties and or­ga­ni­za­tions make de­ci­sions with real time votes/sur­veys and a com­bi­na­tion of au­to­mated data an­a­lyt­ics and so­cial net­work map­ping. English and au­dio­books avail­able in her na­tive tongue and wanted to bring books to the smart­phone gen­er­a­tion.

Dhad went through in­cu­ba­tion at the Badir Pro­gram Tech­nol­ogy In­cu­ba­tor and for­mally launched in 2014. Its main com­pe­ti­tion in the realm is Dubai-based Ara­bic au­dio­book startup Booklava App and Am­man-based Ja­malon.

How­ever, Dhad is ahead of its com­pe­ti­tion as it has ex­clu­sive deals with 18 Ara­bic pub­lish­ing houses and has even had au­dio­books make it all the way to the Frankfurt Book Fair. The startup has even re­cruited pop­u­lar nar­ra­tors like Dr. Ali Abo Al­hasn to nar­rate some of the books to gain more trac­tion.

Although the ma­jor­ity of Dhad users are based in Saudi Ara­bia, its reach has ex­tended to Europe, North Amer­ica and Asia, serv­ing Arab ex­pats seek­ing Ara­bic con­tent abroad.

Va­pu­lus is Egypt’s lat­est pay­ment so­lu­tion that con­nects users di­rectly to all global key pay­ment meth­ods, al­low­ing busi­nesses to ac­cept pay­ments and grow their cus­tomer base on­line, in-app, and in store.

Va­pu­lus’ com­par­a­tive ad­van­tage is that a per­son can send and re­ceive money, pay their bills, and even use it to pay in a lo­cal store with just a user name which helps peo­ple avoid hav­ing their fi­nan­cial cre­den­tials at risk. The app even has a GPS sys­tem that al­lows cashiers to de­tect if some­one with the app is ap­proach­ing which helps speed up the cash­ing out process.

In Septem­ber, Va­pu­lus re­ceived a $250K seed in­vest­ment from Ara­bian Ven­ture Cap­i­tal and reached the fi­nal stages of ne­go­ti­a­tion with three ma­jor banks in Egypt. CEO and co-founder Ab­del­rah­man El­sharawy has great am­bi­tions for the com­pany, and aims to raise an­other $3M in in­vest­ments as well as grow the startup into the big­gest e-pay­ment gate­way in the MENA re­gion. Va­pu­lus is cur­rently look­ing to open of­fices in Bahrain and the Nether­lands in hopes of ex­pand­ing to the Gulf and Euro­pean mar­kets.

in the re­gion com­pared to in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

Founded by univer­sity friends Ah­mad Alzaini and Musab Aloth­mani, Food­ics holds the ad­van­tage of be­ing used by any type of restau­rant, from food trucks all the way to large restau­rant chains. The startup also boasts 24-hour sup­port and a wide range of data an­a­lyt­ics for restau­rants.

In­cu­bated by Badir Tech­nol­ogy In­cu­ba­tor in 2015, Food­ics were picked by Forbes as one of the 50 most promis­ing star­tups in Saudi. Now, two years later, 100 F&B brands in Saudi and the Emi­rates are us­ing Foodic’s man­age­ment sys­tem and the com­pany al­ready has a team of 52 and of­fices in Riyadh, Jed­dah, Kho­bar and Dubai.

Food­ics are also hot off the heels of a $4M in­vest­ment round led by Raed Ven­tures, Riyad Taqnia Fund and Saudi Ven­ture Cap­i­tal with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Ne­seel Hold­ing and 500 Star­tups Fund. The money will go to­wards hir­ing R+D staff, data sci­ence, AI ex­perts, and ex­pand­ing glob­ally start­ing with Europe.

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