Lebanon Businessnews News

Speed@BDD invests
$180,000 in startups
First batch to seek more investment
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Speed@BDD, a tech startup accelerator, said it has invested $180,000 in its first batch of startups and offered them a three-month acceleration program.

The investment was equally divided among the six startups with each receiving $30,000 to develop its idea. Speed@BDD also provided free hosting and various services that included mentorship and product and business development as well as accounting and legal services.

The startups pitched their businesses and showcased their products to Lebanese and regional investors and ecosystem players on Wednesday. The new accelerator, which launched its operations in July 2015, accepts startups at the idea and early stage, mainly in the software, digital, web and mobile sectors.

The new startups are Blitz, Carpolo, Rafiqi, Modeo, RationalPixels, and Next Automated Robots (NAR).
NAR and RationalPixels were selected to join the ‘LebNet Ignite powered by Blackbox Connect’ acceleration and mentorship program, for a Silicon Valley immersion experience, Speed@BDD said in a statement.

RationalPixels is seeking to raise equity funding worth $1.8 million, according to co-founder Rida Sadek. The startup has developed a software program that embeds ads in already shot videos. The product decouples ad placement from video shooting. Sadek said that they sell their product through content distributors and that they have already concluded a deal with Cinemoz.

NAR developed an autonomous drone equipped with sensors and a smart system for early detection of forest fires, said co-founder Charlie El Khoury. They plan to create other drones that could be equipped with different smart systems to perform various activities such as monitoring of traffic and agricultural crops, in addition to uses in other sectors such as oil and gas. NAR is in final talks to sell its product to nine local natural reserves and plans to market it in California where wildfires are frequent, Khoury said. The prototype was manufactured in Lebanon but mass production will be either in Abu Dhabi, China, or the U.S., he said.

Emile Arayes, co-founder of Modeo, said they have created a mobile app that helps users customize, visualize, and order interlocking modular parts of furniture. The product was launched on the Android operating system for testing and will be launched on iOS within three weeks. Arayes said their startup is valued at more than $600,000.

The remaining startups Blitz, Carpolo, and Rafiqi have developed mobile applications. Blitz provides a social platform and community for gamers. Carpolo’s app helps commuters benefit from carpooling. Rafiqi allows users to discover activities around them and suggest their own interests.

Sami Abou Saab, CEO of Speed@BDD, said that they plan to launch their second acceleration program in April with ten new startups and an overall investment of $300,000.

Speed@BDD, whose major shareholders are Berytech Fund II, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), and IM Capital, is located at Berytech’s premises in the Beirut Central District. Lebanon for Entrepreneurs (LFE) and Bader Young Entrepreneurs Program are board members and help in connecting startups to mentors, investors and other players in the ecosystem.
Reported by Shikrallah Nakhoul
Date Posted: Jan 14, 2016
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