BEIRUT: In a ceremony that called for youth to take the risky road of entrepreneurship, Touch congratulated Wednesday six startup graduates who have completed its innovation program.
Launched in January 2018, TIP (Touch Innovative Program), in partnership with ArabNet, aims to select high-potential entrepreneurs as “touch innovators” and offer them benefits to further their startups. Eight to 12 founders are identified annually; the process is divided into two rounds where four to six startups are selected every six months.
Nadim Khater, CCO of Touch, noted the purpose behind the program.
“Touch is one of the largest ICT companies in Lebanon, thus, it’s kind of its duty to act like the big brother of smaller startups. Throughout these six months, the startups were guided by mentors and counselors; it was also an opportunity for us to discover possible partnerships between Touch and other companies,” he told Annahar.
At Antwork Main Campus - Hamra Spears, the ceremony started at 11:00 a.m. with a discussion panel entitled “Unleashing the Lebanese Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Full Potential” which included a group of stellar speakers and entrepreneurs: Elie Nasr, co-founder at FOO; Fadi Mikati, co-founder and president at Tripoli Entrepreneurs Club; Khaled Zeidan, managing director at MIC Ventures; Nadim Khater, chief commercial officer at Touch; and Nicolas Rouhana, general manager at IM Capital.
The panel was moderated by Rita Makhoul, the editorial publisher at ArabNet; she asked the speakers about new ways to drive the Lebanese entrepreneurship agenda and the plans to grow the economy and address social challenges.
“It’s important that universities instill the ideology of entrepreneurship in the youth. Every business starts with an idea and ideas are mostly born in universities,” said Zein.
Rouhana also noted that nowadays entrepreneurs are given a lot of support which wasn’t given before. So, he encourages them to feed their creativity, come up with new ideas, and seek accelerators that can help them.
Speakers also discussed many topics including the possibility of empowering cities in Lebanon other than Beirut, like Tripoli, which has great potential.
During the discussion, attendees who were a mix of startups, digital innovators, entrepreneurs, media and influencers took notes and asked questions, making use of the expertise and knowledge of the present speakers.
Following the panel, a “Fireside Chat” took place with the graduating members:, Joseph Sabbagh, founder of Dentiflow; Nicolas Jamal, founder of Dox; Rudy Bekerejian, founder of Ecomz; Maurice Mattar, founder of Feel22; Stephanie d'Arc Taylor, founder of Jaleesa; and Joe Zarur, founder of Sympaticus. They explained how they’ve benefited from the program, the progress they’ve made, and their future plans.
Some joined the program for marketing purposes, exposure and better opportunities; others sought to enhance their skills and gain more experience.
“I learned to never stop asking, to be patient and push things forward, no matter what,” said Jamal.
In addition to that, Bekerejian recounted that he was facing problems with his sales, and that he found the solution at a mentoring session at TIP. “I learned how to improve my sales pitches and our conversion rates doubled; TIP was a turning point in my life,” he said.
Similarly, d'Arc Taylor, co-founder of Jaleesa, expressed her joy during the event.
“Jaleesa is a Lebanon-based social impact business that connects busy parents with experienced and trusted babysitters. One of the reasons behind it was to provide women with job opportunities. I’m glad to be representing women entrepreneurs today,” she said.
With a round of applause and cheerful smiles, graduation certificates were distributed as a testimony to the dedication and genius of the first wave of TIP startup founders.
Applications for the second cycle of TIP are open, and startups wishing to join the program can complete the online application form available on http://tip.touch.com.lb/
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