BEIRUT: Various types of nascent tech companies put on their million dollar smile, suit up, and showcase a perfectly crafted pitch to a myriad of potential investors, partners, or even a shot at expanding their network.
Startups are considered the stars of conferences such as ArabNet; with all eyes on them, founders are expected to put on their A game to go back home with a thick bundle of business cards and a large call list for the following week.
From FoodTech and HealthTech to Software-as-a-Service and hardware-based startups; each one has a backstory that sounds like the next local Cinderella story in their respective fields.
On the sidelines of the ArabNet Beirut 2018 conference, Annahar focuses on learning about the stories of these Lebanese entrepreneurs and their embryonic companies:
As a salesman, Abed Elkader Jawhar was always on the go, selling his colleague and former college friend Teddy Haddad’s machines; this means that Jawhar spent a lot of time on the road, a circumstance that forced him to eat fast food while working.
“Although I’m a heavy advocate of eating healthy, there were barely any options for such meals found be it in a restaurant or vending machines; which is why we decided to make something ourselves,” Jawhar told Annahar.
Both college buddies went on to create a startup called Mekaprep, where they manufactured an electric mankoushi vending machine, which bakes them in an electric oven and serves in less than 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.
Mekaprep 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.
Jawhar added that due to the cooking procedure being mechanized, it reduces the startup's cost in terms of workforce, “which allows using quality and organic ingredients that everyone can enjoy.”
“The mankoushi is one of the main options for breakfast not just in the Middle East but also around the world, which gives it an advantage in terms of its choice especially for vegetarians since we use organic ingredients to bake them,” he added.
The startup CEO highlighted that the mankoushi has the ability to stand toe-to-toe with worldwide popular foods such as the hotdog or the croissant.
“Let’s not be selfish, and spread our mankoushi to the world,” Jawhar said.
FIND A NURSE
This startup is pretty straight to the point.
Find A Nurse is a locally-based platform that works as an online smart directory for people who are seeking a nurse for home use.
“The nursing industry is very chaotic and uncontrolled, and most nurses in the industry find it hard to set up a network and a client pool,” Mohammad Taha, Chief Nursing Operating Manager at Find A Nurse told Annahar.
Taha noted that nurses usually face many challenges in their field, be it from low payment to abuse, and even to getting ripped off, “our solution to that is our control and monitoring of everything that happens on the platform, especially through the thorough vetting process we have on our nurses.”
Find A Nurse charges a fixed 15 percent of the payment given to the nurse, while the actual payment is provided by the startup, be it via online payment or in cash.
“Currently, we are focusing on Lebanon for the near future in order to build a strong local base here, and then look to expand toward the GCC region, since there is a big demand for male nurses in the gulf,” Taha explained.
Find A Nurse, which has been in business for merely a few months, is currently building a mobile application.
Usually, startup companies aim to define their brand, smooth out the rough edges, and look to build the best possible shift before looking to the market to start building a clientele.
This isn’t the case for Wezank.
Both co-founders of the company were into the videography and production, and before the idea of creating Wezank, they started receiving requests to create videos and audio-visual content for certain individuals and companies.
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.
The company has been operating since 2012, garnering a vast portfolio of videos and visual content with brands, companies, and clients from across the globe from China to Europe and the United States.
A gamer’s rage can make anything possible.
Being a hardcore gamer, James Chamoun, like many of his millions of compadres, hates getting interrupted while playing, be it from surroundings, phone calls, Internet connection, and a myriad of other circumstances.
It was these interruptions that led Chamoun to create Gliq, a startup company he labels as the social media of gaming world. “Our mobile application has it all, from the ability to chat with friends and other gamers, to place calls, check for news and having an individual newsfeed, and even stream local eSports tournaments near you,” Chamoun, who’s the founder and CEO of the startup, told Annahar.
The application also allows users to type in the game they are playing, and it automatically connects them to forums and other gamers that are playing the same video game they are.
According to the gamer turned entrepreneur, the application has a voice recognition feature that enables it to function using the user’s voice commands.
“We’ve been developing the website for almost a year now, and we are currently looking to partner up with local eSports tournaments to let us live stream their games, while looking to partner up with game development studios in Lebanon and abroad to feature their news and info on the app,” Chamoun told Annahar.
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