BEIRUT: The number of startups being incubated or accelerated in Lebanon is on the rise, according to a report released by Arabnet in 2018.
On Thursday, Speed accelerator celebrated its sixth cycle of startups during its Speed Demo Day VI. “The goal of starting Speed was to create high-quality startups,” Sami Abou Saab, CEO of Speed, told the audience.
“Together with our investors, we have built a great portfolio of 34 startups over the years. We have also built the programs, the know-hows, our network of investors and our international partnerships. Now we’re on a mission to run the next five cycles with the support of the central bank and several private banks,” he added.
Before the eight startups pitched to the audience, a panel hosting Richard Vuillien, sales director at Techstars, and George Elhbr, co-founder and CEO of game development startup Groovy Antoid, took place to highlight the experience of both speakers while working with Speed and with each other.
“Lebanon is a place that’s turned commercially towards Europe and the US, but it’s also turned towards the MENA region because you guys also speak Arabic, English, and French,” Vuillien said, adding: “So for us Lebanon is a very important geographical point that has a lot of potential with a growing ecosystem.”
As for Elhbr, he said that joining speed “really catalyzed our journey,” and that his journey with Techstars in Singapore was a bit challenging “because we have different needs, different KPIs, different objectives as a gaming startup.”
However, it wasn’t all bad, as the startup found a gaming platform to partner with, in Singapore, through the Techstars program.
Finally, the startups were pitched in the following order:
An on-demand staffing platform that efficiently connects businesses with qualified temporary workers. They have generated more than $200K in sales, validating the demand for their product, and provided jobs for over 600 part-timers.
A platform that allows fashion-forward individuals to shop a wide variety of premium designer collections under one platform, customize them and have them made-to-measure to fit them perfectly, all from the comfort of their homes and at very attractive pricing. They have responded to more than 200 orders with a $300+ average cart size.
A startup building solutions for the aviation industry enabling operations and safety optimization. Their achievements include building a dataset of 100,000 image samples to train the custom build AI model.
An online subscription service, offering fresh healthy meals for pets, personalized to their profile using smart algorithms, and delivered to the home. They currently serve more than 100 monthly subscribers generating over $7,000 in sales.
An online platform that provides users the ability to search and compare travel packages offered by local and regional agencies. SawaNsafer also provides travel-related data and insights to businesses. They have established partnerships with four of the top travel agencies in Lebanon.
An interactive platform that links scriptwriters and filmmakers to investors, producers and distributors. They have conducted one year of quantitative and qualitative research to validate their market opportunity.
An online platform that caters for the needs of pet owners by connecting them to trusted pet sitters and dog walkers around them. They have completed more than 10,000 hours of pet sitting since launching the platform in 2018.
A platform connecting creative and digital agencies and freelancers to their clients in order to facilitate communication, accelerate the working process and provide the management with advanced business intelligence tools. They have saved 400 hours of productivity per month by testing the platform with Webneoo, Xilia’s parent digital agency.
The big announcement, however, came when Abou Saab noted that, thanks to Kafalat’s iSME programme, Speed is now able to send four startups to a five-week immersion program at Draper university in Silicon Valley. The startups chosen were Lemonade Fashion, Xilia, Sceriptofilm, and Oreyeon.
Speed is now accepting applicants to its seventh cycle.
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