It is time for ArabNet Beirut 2018, two intensive days for exhibiting, networking, business deals, startup pitches, and breaking news announcements on VC funding expected for Lebanon and the IT sector. ArabNet Beirut is Lebanon’s leading conference on digital business.
This year’s event will feature three forums: Digital Transformation, Media & Advertising, and Innovation & Investment. Additionally and for the 2nd year, the conference will feature the Banking Innovation Day; covering the latest trends in technology impacting the banking sector.
Also, gear yourselves up for the Startup Battle which selects the top three startups from Beirut to compete against the best in the region at the Startup Championship in Dubai in May (and chance to win $20K.)
Live: ArabNet Beirut
Joe Abi Aad, Founder and CEO, Netiks says that presenting his company as a U.S company and not a Lebanese company is a must as the image of the local Lebanese industry doesn't hold the same leverage yet.
Ray Kattar, CEO, Neumann highlights that networking with the higher-ups of regional companies goes a long way in helping his company export its products and services.
Joe Abi Aad, Founder and CEO, Netiks says that the local industry must prove itself before exporting its products and services. He highlights an early partnership with Microsoft that proved highly beneficial for the growth of his company.
Rabih Nassar, Founder and CEO, Scriptr says that he created his company by first recruiting international talents from across Europe and the US, yet as his company has progressed, local talents have joined his company as well, adding that talent retention is paramount.
Recruiting begins straight after individuals graduate university, with new recruits going through a two-year training period.
Ray Kattar, CEO, Neumann says that Google was once the pioneer within the AI field, building a platform for individuals to learn more about the field.
Ray Kattar, CEO, Neumann says that his company is building a bridge between the US and Lebanon in order to bring home experts from the AI field.
Joe Abi Aad, Founder and CEO, Netiks says that recruiting talent is challenging, as they face competition from both the region and Europe - HR is an important aspect of the industry.
Rabih Nassar, Founder and CEO, Scriptr says that his company is working with customers that aim to implement smart solutions, such as products (benches on streets) that allow cities to track foot traffic.
Panel: Developing New Markets and Opportunities
Local pioneers have ventured into the technology business even ahead of the surge we witnessed five years ago, turning the country to regional powerhouse, supplying banking, media, retail and HR technology solutions.
As businesses are carving out a new market, challenges arise in acquiring and nurturing talent, as well as business opportunities and client education.
This panel hosts technology leaders to talk about the key challenges in building a technology business in an emerging market: from finding the needed talent for a new technology to encouraging business adoption and exporting services to new markets.
Annahar English’s own deputy editor Timothy Kenahan Maloy is moderating the panel that included Joe Abi Aad, Founder, and CEO of Netiks, Rabih Nassar, Founder and CEO of Scriptr, and finally Ray Kattar CEO of Neuman AI.
In his speech, Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh talked about Circular 331 and the positive effect it had on the Lebanese economy. “The Central Bank of Lebanon is preparing to launch the digital currency, which will lead to an important development in the digital economy and will fall under Lebanese law,” Salameh said.
He added that BDL recognizes that the financial sector plays a leading role in the development and modernization of the Lebanese economy.
"However, growth is largely linked to improving Lebanon's competitiveness, whereby the Knowledge Economy plays a significant role," Salameh highlighted.
Innovation and human capacity are the pillars of the 4th industrial revolution; they are fundamental elements that contribute to improving competitiveness, according to the BDL Governor.
Keeping mentally, physically healthy and being organized were key components of FinTech & RegTech Lead Consensus Juan Llanos' Keynote, '10 Lessons Every Entrepreneur Must Learn'.
Panel: Preparing Talent for the Digital Economy
The rapid growth of the technology sector in Lebanon and the region is creating a surge in demand for talent, which rapidly outpacing the supply of tech skilled labor. Educational institutions, often traditional are not sufficiently developing the skills needed by the market.
To fill this gap, there has been a rise in skill-focused training programs and entities that are determined to address this challenge.
This panel explores the key skills that are lagging in the market today, the challenges in developing talent to meet the market’s needs, and the new skills that talent need to acquire for the future job market.
The panel was moderated by Youmna Naufal, producer and host of Y Chats, and includes Mona Saad, marketing director at Morgan International, Rawad Assaf, CTO of UK Lebanon Tech Hub, and finally Zeina Saab, co-founder of SE Factory.
Zeina Saab: SE Factory has a long history of youth mentorship and education assistance with her NGO Nawaya Network, and in 2016 she started an adjunct enterprise the SE Factory, the give tech training to low and middle-income college grads.
“I noticed a big gap in training for coding and other technical skills, and we decided to launch SE Factory, which is a 14-week accelerator training program with a curriculum of 10 hours per day. The objective of this intiative is to place these college graduates on the path of employment,” Saab told Annahar.
She added that the target training group is fresh college graduates from the lower-to-middle income demographic, with the purpose “of levelling the playing field.”
Saab highlighted that thus far, SE Factory has a 90 percent success employment rate.
Omar Christidis, CEO of Arabnet unveiled his company’s new report titled 'Lebanese innovation economy for tech startups in 2018', which highlights the main challenges local entrepreneurs are facing in the country.
“One of the main challenges facing startups in Lebanon is the lack of an e-government, which ends up costing founders to physically do their paperwork. This is considered very time consuming and also isn’t cost friendly,” he said during his speech.
While Internet connection was considered to be among the challenges, “trusting and usage of online payment methods in Lebanon and the region are considered a top problem which burdens e-commerce based businesses.
WakeCap is a hardware technology startup that produces smart hardhat allowing construction companies to track employees and communicate with them with a push of a button.
“The smart hat allows the company to know where the employees are, in addition to having a button that reaches out to management, as well as an alert button that provides the employee or worker with immediate help or aid,” Badis Glaied, co-founder of WakeCap, told Annahar.
Glaied added that the helmet has a special sensitivity feature that triggers an alarm response in case of an accident, for example, if the employee is struck with a hard object, the company will be alerted of the location of the incident.
We're very excited to partake in ArabNet Beirut 2018! It will be our fourth participation in the local event and we're looking forward to meeting with new startups in the market at our booth and watch our startups take the stage during the multiple pitching competitions,” said Sami Abou Saab CEO of Speed@BDD, a longtime Lebanese startup accelerator.
“We'll also be participating in the expert roundtables and leading a workshop to help startups improve the UX of their solutions. This is the first major event in a while in the Lebanese ecosystem and we hope that we'll be able to leverage it to recruit for our upcoming batch and catch up with all the major players and support organizations.
Rami Alame, CEO of Lexyom considers the event to exceed his expectations with its level of professionalism and setup.
"I'm seriously wowed by the turnout of ArabNet this year and the professionalism and seriousness exhibited by its attendees," Alame told Annahar.
Wanowi takes the stage for their pitch, they are the destination platform for the streetwear fashion community.
Ray is a cloud-based solution focused on creating a smarter way to manage and automate communication in the workplace.
Lexyom, an online platform that enables users to find legal answers, legal services & connect with lawyers anytime and anywhere.
Wezank is a smart video production startup that creates visual content regarding anything the mind can think of, from how-to videos, corporate, educational, tele-resumes and many more.
“With content being so heavily dependent on visual content, we are here to work with any brand, company or individual to create original content using the tools, information and resources given to us by our clients,” co-founder of Wezank, Toni Yammine told Annahar.
Harold is a disruptive classified ads assistant that allows users to optimize the price, time & platform choice of their second-hand transactions.
Aiming to become the region’s most reliable platform, Find a Nurse aims to help families find qualified nurses in an affordable way.
Fig empowers businesses to have real-time adaptive engagement with their customers by creating Chatbots.
Gliq is a social media platform seeking to bring gamers together and simplify the way they communicate by providing them with an encompassing medium to chat, talk and share their accomplishments.
The online destination for beauty shoppers in Lebanon, Feel22 is an online platform for a wide selection of beauty products.
Cherpa kicked off Startup Battle Beirut with their platform aimed to teach robotics to youth in a fun way.
Dox, one the startups taking part in the Startup Battle, says that its' building a predictive maintenance platform that will help automotive companies eliminate inventory cost, on stage at #ArabNetBeirut 2018.
MekaPrep is a FoodTech startup that developed a vending machine that can make, bake and customized Lebanese Mankoushis in 90 seconds. The startup aims to deploy their self-cooking vending machines in different universities across Lebanon, co-working spaces, and other business and real estate centers.
Meka Prep plans to expand its market regionally in countries such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and internationally in countries such as the Netherlands, Canada and the US.
“We all love Lebanese mankoushis, and this is best way to get it in the most hygienic, fastest, cheapest way,” Abdel ElKader Jawhar told Annahar.
Jawhar added that due to the cooking procedure being mechanized, it reduces the startups cost in terms of work force, “which allows to use quality and organic ingredients that everyone can enjoy.”
Prime Minister Saad Hariri pictured alongside Banque Du Liban Governor Dr. Riad Salameh at the ArabNet Beirut event in Habtoor Hotel
Annahar English deputy editor TK Maloy will be moderating a panel today at 4:30 pm On 'Developing New Markets and Opportunities' featuring the following speakers:
Joe Abi Aad, Founder and CEO, Netiks
Rabih Nassar, Founder and CEO, Scriptr
Ray Kattar, CEO, Neumann
Moderator: Timothy Kinahan Maloy, Deputy Editor, Annahar English
Local pioneers have ventured into the technology business even ahead of the surge we witnessed 5 years ago, turning the country to regional powerhouse, supplying banking, media, retail and HR technology solutions. As business carving out a new market, challenges arise in acquiring and nurturing talent, as well as business opportunities and client education. This panel hosts technology leaders to talk about the key challenges in building a technology business in an emerging market: from finding the needed talent for a new technology to encouraging business adoption and exporting services to new markets. It will also touch on the ecosystem needed to support technology businesses to flourish.
How do you encourage customer (business) adoption of a completely new technology or service?
How do you find/develop talent in a completely new area or domain?
How do you build an export-based technology business out of Lebanon?
Opening panel concluded, tackling the issue of 'Hot Global Trends for Tech investors'
The rapid pace of technological development is disrupting businesses across many sectors, and opening a plethora of opportunities for tech investors to make financial returns. Artificial intelligence and bots are poised to become the new consumer interface across sectors, with major investments by all the global tech giants (Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana).
Blockchain has become a game change for the transactional economy, with major investments from different sectors like banking and government.
The impact of tech in different industries can be felt in major growth of startups across FinTech, AgriTech, HealthTech, AdTech, and other verticals.
The panel is moderated by Fawzi Rahal, Managing Director of Flat6Labs Beirut, with speakers being Massimo Campello, Business Partner Middle East Region, Supernovae Labs, Jonathan Nelson, Managing Director of Hack Fund and Rami Al Karmi Chief Innovation Officer at Jordan Ahli Bank.
ArabNet magazine editor Rita Makhoul with Alexandre Hawath, investment officer, Berytech Digital Park.
During ArabNet’s signature Startup Battle, ten startups will get the chance to pitch their business models to a panel of judges, and three winners will be announced during an awards ceremony at the end of the event.
The winning startups will be given the opportunity to travel to ArabNet’s Digital Summit in Dubai, and participate in the Startup Championship for a chance of receiving a prize of $20,000 cash, as well as a scholarship for acceleration in Silicon Valley.
The finalists have been selected to get on stage and introduce their businesses – find them here!
MEET THE FINALISTS!
Entrepreneur – Ibrahim Ezzeddine, Country – Lebanon
Cherpa is an online platform that teaches robotics to youth in a fun and interactive way and empowers them with the necessary skills to prepare for a better future.
Entrepreneur – Nicholas El Jamal, Country – Lebanon
Dox is building a battery predictive maintenance platform that will help automotive companies eliminate inventory costs and unnecessary site visits while improving the reliability of their batteries.
Entrepreneur – Maurice Mattar, Country – Lebanon
Feel22 is an online destination for beauty shoppers in Lebanon and the region, providing them with a unique experience while shopping from an exclusive and wide selection of beauty products.
Entrepreneur – Maher Hassanieah, Country – Lebanon
Fig empowers businesses to have real time adaptive engagement with their customers by creating chatbots that integrate seamlessly into the customer's life through understanding and learning their habits
Find a Nurse
Entrepreneur – Hussein Sleiman, Country – LebanonFind A Nurse aims to become the region's most reliable platform that allows families to find qualified home care professionals quickly and affordably.
Entrepreneur – James Chamoun, Country – Lebanon
An all-in-one social media platform for Gamers.
Entrepreneur – Giovanni De Luca, Country – Lebanon
Harold is a disruptive Classified Ads assistant that allows users to optimize the price, time, and platform choice of their second-hand transactions. The solution understands users' buying and selling needs through its tailored AI system.
Entrepreneur – Rami Alame, Country – Lebanon
Lexyom is an online platform that enables users to find legal answers, legal services and connect to lawyers anytime and anywhere.
Entrepreneur – Ayman Kichly, Country – Lebanon
Ray is a cloud-based solution focused on creating a smarter way to manage and automate communication and processes in communities or workplaces.
Entrepreneur – Dina Daher, Country – Lebanon
Wanowi is the destination for the streetwear fashion community providingadolescents with a secure marketplace to buy, sell, negotiate and connect.
AND HERE ARE THE RUNNER UPS
Entrepreneur – Zeina Khalili, Country – Syria
Mujeeb is a customer-service automation solution for businesses on Facebook
Entrepreneur – Anthony Saneh, Country – Lebanon
Karrenn is a community-based platform that allows you to compare between a wide range of new cars in the Lebanese market
Entrepreneur – Nicolas Farah, Country – Lebanon
URUZ is an online fitness platform that connects trainers to trainees all around the world.
Entrepreneur – Omar Osman, Country – Lebanon
An online platform that brings the neighborhood supermarket aisles straight to your fingertips.
Entrepreneur – Saeed Alfagieh, Country – Oman
Anamehani.com is a social labor marketplace that aims to connect vetted community-based workers with households, companies and organizations covering their everyday needs.
The Many Shades of Food Tech
Startups in MENA are tackling food tech categories such as food delivery, restaurant tech, online chef/caterer hire, and food subscription. The 10 markets that have been included and analyzed are Lebanon, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, and Oman.
More than $900 million has been invested in regional digital startups in the last 4 years. With over 100 active institutional investors across the region, MENA has witnessed a significant proliferation of new funding institutions in the past 5 years, with Venture Capital (VC) funds, in particular, capturing the largest percentage of the investor community and doubling in number from 2013 to 2015.
Technology editor Yehia El Amine will be bringing you the full report.
Heading into the exhibition hall it is a vibrant scene with everyone from BDL and Bank Audi to Beirut Digital District, Touch Alpha and Starbucks giving out cold shots of milk coffee.
The credentials scene ArabNet Beirut where 2,000 digerati are attending Wednesday and Thursday.
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