ACCESS TO MARKETS
FIGURE 7. TYPE OF SUPPORT SERVICES AVAILABLE TO TECH STARTUPS
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.