Innovative apps and enterprises debut at Speed Demo Day

This gaming debut was of nine startups Thursday afternoon who were officially graduating from startup accelerator Speed@BDD which had run the entrepreneurs through over three months of intense business training.
by TK Maloy and Yehia El Amine

7 July 2017 | 15:19

Source: by Annahar

Groovy Antoid show their game Fat Bunny to people during the Speed@BDD's Demo Day IV at Four Seasons Hotel. (Photo Courtesy of Speed@BDD)

BEIRUT: Groovy Antoid is on stage giving a rousing pitch for its "Fat Bunny" game, which will soon enter the multi-billion dollar mobile gaming industry in search of the potential millions of users who will download and play the game.

The audience is applauding and laughing in pleasure at not only the Fat Bunny but the other game characters devised by the startup development studio.

This gaming debut was one of nine enterprises Thursday afternoon who were officially graduating from startup accelerator Speed@BDD which had run the entrepreneurs through over three months of intense business training.

The live pitch – to an audience of several hundred investment bankers, VC funds, those politicians interested in Lebanon growing ICT sector and startup scene, and a large number of young industry techno aficionados – was the final part of the group’s lesson in business.

The "Batch IV" group of startups pitched their business concepts at the posh Four Season Hotel, which Speed@BDD's chief of marketing, Gracia Soued, said, "is the biggest bash yet for our startup graduation.”

“The founders of these startups are hardworking and coachable,” which are two key ingredients to successfully graduating a program such Speed’s, said Soued. Graduating enterprises ranged from digital shopping, AI financial assistance, music, and children's books creation, to gaming and educational applications.

At the beginning of the program three months ago, when the startups were just beginning their boot camp, Speed CEO Sami Abou Saab said that thus far, in a little over a year, "18 startups have graduated from our program with a total investment of $540,000 in cash and its equivalent of in-kind services. We have seen the evolution of the (local) startup ecosystem and Lebanon's brand is becoming prominent worldwide."

The group of innovative startup apps and tech business that finished their formal training Thursday with Speed included:

Cherpa is an online platform that teaches robotics and electronics to youth in an interactive way. From building and coding projects to interacting with virtual missions, Cherpa says it is introducing a new dimension that reshapes the world of robotics.

Fig offers users a solution to rediscover clothes shopping in a conversational and personalized way. Through its artificial intelligence powered chatbot for FacebookMessenger, users can discover clothes from shops and brands they love.

Grey Imp is a game development studio focused on creating experiences that interact with gamers in an emotional and intellectual dimension. The studio specializes in story-driven games and complements them with creative game mechanics and controllers. The first game, Starborn Chronicles, is just the beginning according to the startup.

Groovy Antoid is a team of indie game developers based in Beirut focused on creating 2D mobile games with simple mechanics, lovable characters. Their first release "Fat Bunny" is already gaining traction on the app stores and helping the team develop a sustainable, data-driven formula for their studio's future releases!

Harold offers a disruptive Classified Ads assistant that allows users to optimize the time, price, and platform choice of their online transactions. The solution understands users' buying and selling needs through its tailored artificial intelligence.

Living Book is a production and a multi-store publishing platform that allows creative people to collaboratively create, publish, and sell personalized interactive and printed books for children aged 2 to 10. The startup says that children all over the world will be able to enjoy reading and parents will be able to engage their kids by creating personalized copies in digital and print.

Neotic is a trading support platform that allows traders to test trading strategies and leverage artificial intelligence to receive trading recommendations without writing a single line of code. The artificial intelligence is based on a machine learning algorithm that integrates corporate fundamentals, historical prices, and financial news.

From big room electro to seedy backroom techno, TRYBE is the world's first community-based electronic music discovery app. TRYBE empowers fans to instantly discover what’s trending in the electronic music world; from the biggest new tracks, mixes, and podcasts all the way through to the hottest events, festivals, and electronic music news.

Wanowi is a timed, 15-minute, online auction platform that allows users to buy trendy and exclusive products that are otherwise hard to obtain, at discounted rates.

These enterprises underwent an accelerator program which encompassed mentorship, training, basic business lessons and ongoing inspiration for each startup to follow their visions amid the quickly growing tech ecosystem.

The roaring sounds of techno-filled networking conversations were heard down to the prestigious hotel’s lobby and propelled a louder tune when reaching the event’s courtyard.

“I think this batch of startups is the most dedicated and intriguing, especially after having a quick chat with all of them, and heavily noticeable following their pitching time,” one of the attendees of the event noted to Annahar.

During the pitching period, the startups' founders each confidently delivered a brief summary of what their infant company offers to the market and what impact it will on potential future users, accompanied with colorful, yet insightful visual aids to cement their ideas into the brains of the attendees.

“This is our biggest batch ever and an exceptionally promising one. We always highlight how important it is for entrepreneurs to be hard-working and coachable and the founders of Cycle IV startups embodied these qualities literally,” Abou Saab said during his welcome address.

Shortly after the pitching was over, Speed’s CEO announced the two startups, Cherpa and Neotic, which will be experiencing LebNet Ignite-powered by Blackbox Connect, which is a two-week mentorship program held in Silicon Valley in mid-August, fully sponsored by Speed@BDD.

The event, however, still held a large surprise to unveil.

“We’ve noticed that startups at the pre-seed stage are spending nine to twelve months to secure their first round of investment, and we all know how critical this time is for their survival and growth,” Abou Saab said, “That is why we created the Seed Boost.”

Speed@BDD brought on board five different investors, consisting of Elias Houayek, B&Y Venture Partners, Phoenician Funds, Berytech Fund II and Middle East Venture Partners to create the Seed Boost, raising a total of $50,000 equity investment (5 percent) for one of its graduating startups.

The winner of the Seed Boost was Cherpa, allowing them to operate and grow in the months following acceleration and prior to securing their next round of investment.

“We’re at a time where we can say that Lebanon is on the global entrepreneurship map and Beirut is being internationally highlighted as the upcoming startup hub in the MENA region,” Abou Saab noted.

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