Lebanon Businessnews News
 

Speed@BDD completes
second acceleration program
Startups seek a

combined $3.5 million capital

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Speed@BDD has completed a three-month acceleration program for seven tech startups in which it has invested $210,000. This is the startup accelerator’s second program, with a third acceleration program in the offering.

The investment comes under the Central Bank’s program which aims to support entrepreneurs in the knowledge economy.

The tech accelerator stated that during the cycle it has invested $30,000 in cash in each startup and an equivalent amount in “in-kind” services covering free hosting, product and business development, financial advisory, legal services, and mentorship from key experts in various industries.

The seven startups, who pitched their businesses and showcased their products in front of investors and players in the startup ecosystem, said they are seeking an additional investment with a combined value of $3.5 million to grow their businesses.

Sami Abou Saab, Speed@BDD’s CEO, said that three of the startups, Jellyfish, Synkers, and Vision in Motion, will travel to Silicon Valley in August for a two-week immersion program.

Amer Mouawad, co-founder of Vision in Motion, said they are seeking to obtain a $500,000 equity investment that will be mainly used for research and development (R&D) purposes and for hiring more people. Vision in Motion uses a software-based solution that allows businesses to monitor, track, and analyze their customers’ behavioral patterns.

“We are already talking to big clients locally for beta testing purposes,” Mouawad said. “Our main targets are supermarkets, malls, and big stores like Zara, or Aishti.” Vision in Motion plans to expand to the Arab region, the GCC in particular, Europe, and the US.

Jellyfish, a user-friendly budgeting and expense-tracking software application that mainly targets nonprofit organizations and startups, is also looking to get an equity investment of $500,000. Joey Zeenny, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, said: “Going to Silicon Valley will introduce us to coaches and mentors, allowing us to learn how startups function in that ecosystem. The trip will also help us to think and operate as a global startup,” said Zeenny, who will start testing the international market in the coming months, since Jellyfish is web-based and can be used from anywhere.

Zeina Sultani, co-founder of Synkers, said they are also seeking to obtain an equity investment of $500,000 to expand Synkers, an app that instantaneously connects students to private tutors, into the MENA region. Sultani said going to Silicon Valley will help the team learn about best practice and how to develop the best growth strategy at the global level. The Synkers app will also be in Arabic as next year it plans to expand to Dubai, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

SQWIRL, an on-demand delivery service application, is looking for an equity investment of $850,000. Karl Abouzeid, CEO, said that SQWIRL targets the local market, and also plans to expand in the region. “Our app is technology-based and could easily be used abroad and across different markets,” he said.

Loubna Ibrahim, Founder of topShou, a community-driven fashion discovery platform, said that they are looking for an equity investment of $300,000, a large chunk of which will go towards R&D of the app. “We have an iOS app. We will be developing an Android app as well,” she said. The startup currently targets the female market, but also plans to cater to men once it has the investment. topShou is now present in Lebanon and Jordan, and plans to expand to Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Abou Saab said that the third acceleration program will start in September. “We are hoping to get six to ten startups and to invest $30,000 in each of them under the BDL program,” he said. ”We usually exit after three to five years when the right time and the right opportunity arise.”

Speed@BDD, which started operations a year ago, has so far helped in the launch of 13 startups on the market through two acceleration programs.

Maroun Chammas, Speed@BDD’s Co-founder/Chairman said: “The quality and depth of startups is clearly getting better, cycle after cycle. The ecosystem is maturing fast and the early signs of big successes are showing.” He also said that Walid Hanna, Managing Partner at MEVP, will become the accelerator’s new chairman next year in accordance with an agreement among shareholders to rotate the chairman position among themselves. Speed@BDD’s major shareholders are Berytech Fund II, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), and IM Capital.

All startups from the second batch have been able to launch their products. Applications for the third acceleration program are now open online, with a deadline of July 20.
Reported by Shikrallah Nakhoul
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Date Posted: Jul 12, 2016