Kuwait is currently hosting the 8th version of the MIT Enterprise Forum hosted and organized by MIT.
The forum centers around the MITEF Arab Startup Competition.
Here is a quick brief on the competition:
Startups from all over the Arab world apply towards three possible “tracks”: idea track (for pre-prototype venture), social entrepreneurship track (for startups that tackle a social problem), or the startup track.
From the applicants, 150 startups are selected to attend the semi finals in Kuwait, of which a handful will be selected to participate in the final. The winners are awarded funding as follows:
Startups Track: $50K for the first winner, $15K for the second winner, and $10K for the third winner
Ideas Track: $15K for the first winner, $10K for the second winner, and $5K for the third winner
Social Entrepreneurship Track: 3 winners winning $10K each
The semi-final was held on Sunday (April 19th), and the StartupQ8 team was there to cover it! Our team was also on elevator pitch judging duty.
For the elevator pitch exercise, Startups were instrcuted to pitch (one-on-one) to as many EP judges as possible and gather feedback. The judges (selected from different disciplines and backgrounds) provided succinct feedback and an overall rating for the startups.
A couple of minutes before the elevator pitch exercise got underway, the ballroom was already buzzing with almost tangible energy. Hundreds of founders were ready to bombard the vast array of judges with their extraordinary startup ideas to eagerly collect some valuable feedback.
For the next 90 minutes, startups circulated the room and engaged in insightful conversation with judges. The variety and diversity of ideas was truly incredible. The mix of having startups at different stages as well as ones with a social impact agenda made for a more compelling competition, with Arab ingenuinty on full display.
Of the startups that I was lucky enough to get to know, I’d like to highlight the following three as my personal favorite:
ScreenDy: a web platform for creative native advanced e-commerce apps on the cloud. It allows web developers with little to no background in mobile development to create a brilliant mobile app. I took some time to checkout the platform and found it intuitive and uncomplicated. The team, from Casablanca, is very experienced and extremely capable of executing a world class product.
Braille Touch: an idea for a glove that allows visually impaired people to interact and read digital text content on any screen. What I love about this idea is the sense of mission the founders have. I could immediately tell the amount of passion behind the idea, and I was left feeling confident that they had the team to turn this idea into a beautiful product.
ColorBug: this mobile applications turns color-in stencil into augmented reality for children. The technology is jaw-dropping (literally, in my case) and the app has an overall “wow” factor. But what I really like about this startup is the market potential. They have impressive sales for the short amount of time they have been operating, and they understand exactly how to tackle such a massive market. They are already affiliating themselves with big sponsors in the children education space.
There were other great startups that I didn’t have the chance to find out more about. Let’s hope I get some time to talk to them in the coming days and share my thoughts on them here.
The finalist from each track have been chosen, and the winners will be announced in the forum/ gala dinner event starting tonight (April 20).
Stay tuned for our coverage!