Posted on May 09, 2019

The third edition of the MENA Dojo Series A Program in Kuwait has concluded with ‘Investor Day’, an exciting opportunity for the most promising tech-based startup participants to pitch their business ideas to a global audience of industry leaders and potential investors from across the Arab world.

The regional spin-off of the internationally-coveted 500 Startups Series A Program was organized by global venture capital firm 500 Startups in partnership with Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) – part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation (QF RDI).

During the five-week accelerator growth program, 14 technology startups from the MENA region, including two from Qatar, worked with internationally renowned growth mentors who helped them track their company’s key metrics and progress, uncover new marketing channels, and identify untapped opportunities. Through intensive training and mentorship, the startups learned to execute highly effective marketing techniques designed to rapidly grow their customer base, thereby increasing their likelihood of securing Series A investments and ensuring the success of their businesses.

In her keynote address, Haya Al-Ghanim, Investment Director, QSTP, said: “For over two decades, Qatar Foundation has planted the seeds of entrepreneurship in MENA and inspired a generation of home grown ‘tech entrepreneurs’ in Qatar and beyond. Our partnership with 500 Startups reflects Qatar Foundation’s mission to advance innovation on a global scale. “This collaboration allows us to sponsor and support the MENA Dojo Program. We are confident that the MENA Dojo will continue to be the driving force for the next billion-dollar startup, forever changing the entrepreneurial landscape of the region.” Sharif El-Badawi, 500 Startups Partner, said: “This year, after a competitive application process, we selected 14 companies to participate in our third regional Dojo program. “The Dojo program is a post-seed stage growth accelerator program focused on driving scale through a structured and disciplined framework to enhance their distribution, marketing and sales strategies. The program is led by an amazing team of seasoned entrepreneurs, engineers, growth hackers, and investors.”

Taking part this year were two Qatari-founded startups: ADGS and MaktApp. ADGS, a beneficiary of QSTP’s Product Development Fund, which provides funding for SMEs and startups developing products and services relevant to local market needs, sells a suite of products that use artificial intelligence (AI), behavioral biometrics, and emergent behavior. MaktApp, which is currently based at QSTP, is a startup established by an alumnus of XLR8 – QSTP’s flagship accelerator program that takes tech-based services or products from the idea stage all the way to a validated prototype. The MaktApp team has developed fatora.io, an invoicing platform driven by AI that streamlines online payments.

Yosouf Abdelrahman Saleh, Executive Director, QSTP, said: “Innovation is essential in the development of any economy, and QSTP is honored to collaborate with 500 Startups to provide promising innovative entrepreneurs the support that will enable them to become important contributors to the economic growth, and diversification of the MENA region. “MENA Dojo provided these startups not just with invaluable ideas on how to accelerate the growth of their business and thrive in a competitive market, but it also gave them the opportunity to connect with investors who can help realize the full operation of their business venture,” added Saleh.

Dr. Richard O’Kennedy, Vice President for Research, Development, and Innovation, Qatar Foundation, said: “Startups that develop innovative products, services, and solutions to address societal needs and national priorities are key to building a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Qatar. Through platforms like the MENA Dojo, we are empowering such startups to impactfully contribute to the socio-economic growth of Qatar and the region. By connecting innovative minds with visionary investors through ‘Investor Day’, we are creating opportunities for progressive collaborations that could trigger growth and effective realization of the businesses’ potential.”

‘Investor Day’ also featured a series of activities that encouraged participants to network and establish meaningful working relationships with industry leaders, investors, and fellow participants.

For more information about MENA Dojo, please visit www.qstp.org.qa

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