Announcing: StartupQ8 Event for June 2016

Mark your calendars for a new StartupQ8 Event!

You really don’t want to miss this one!

The first part will be an open discussion panel on how Kuwait can become a regional tech hub. The panelists will be Abdullah Al-Zabin (Lumba, Inc.), Mohammed Jaffar (formerly of Talabat), and Abdullah Al-Shalabi (fishfishme). The panel will be open and interactive with the audience.

Following that, we have Alvarro Abella-Managing Partner at BECO Capital, one of the leading Venture Capitalist firms in the Middle East. Alvarro will talk about how startups should choose an investor, and what VC’s look for in startups.

The event will be held Wednesday (June 1) @ 7 pm at @Mefazec (Alhamra Tower, 16th Floor). Here is the schedule

7:00– 7:15 Welcome
7:15 – 8.15 Startup Panel
8:15 – 9:00 Choosing the Right Investor
9:00 – 9:30 Networking + pizza

As always, the event will be in English and it is open to everyone (no need to register). Follow our social media accounts for more info (@StartupQ8 on Twitter and Instagram).
See you there!

Announcing: StartupQ8 Event for March 2016

📌 StartupQ8 Event This Tuesday📌

Don’t miss Tuesday’s StartupQ8 event!
. . .

Our first speaker will be Zaid Almuqbel, Partner and Business Developer at Diwaniya Labs. Zaid will discuss Diwaniya Labs’ journey to success over the past 5 years, which included producing several hit mobile games like iKout.

Our second speaker is Ahmed Shbli, an avid iOS game developer with over 7 years of experience building different types of mobile games. Ahmed will present on how start and run a Video Game startup, and how to turn a video game into a profitable business.

The event will be held Tuesday (March 22) @ 7.45 pm at Mefazec (Alhamra Tower, 16th Floor).

Here is the schedule

7:45 – 7:50 Welcome
7:50 – 8.30 The Story of Diwaniya Labs with Zaid Almuqbel
8.30 – 8:35 Break
8:35 – 9:15 Video Game Startups with Ahmed Shbli
9:15 – 10 Networking pizza
. . .
As always, the event will be in English and it is open to everyone (no need to register).

See you there!

Announcing: StartupQ8 Event for November 2015

This month’s StartupQ8 Event is jointly hosted with the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition. Our speakers this week were finalists in last year’s competition which was held in Kuwait. Our first speaker is Mohamed Sheikhaldeen, co-founder and CTO of, a cloud rendering platform that enables artists and engineers to quickly and cost effectively render their drawings. Our second speaker is Bader Al-Ghanim, co-founder of, a platform to discover the best price to ship items to any location in the world.

The event will be held on Tuesday November 24th at Global Tower in Kuwait City. Here is the schedule:

Here is the schedule:
7:00 – 7:05 Welcome
7:05 – 7:45 SPIN Sales Technique for Startups by Mohamed Sheikhaldeen
7:45 – 8:00 Networking break
8:00 – 8:40 The Pivotal Pivot by Bader Al-Ghanim
8:40 – 9:00 Networking pizza

As always, the event will be in English and it is open to everyone (no need to register). Join our page for more details on our upcoming events.

See you there.

Startup Weekend is coming to Kuwait again!

From the Startup Weekend Kuwait blog:

Startup Weekend is coming to town again! The goal of this event is to create an environment where passionate people can come together to get things done; to learn, network, bridge the gap between trades, expose potential and see actual results.



Startup Weekend has held 2000+ events in 135+ countries around the world, and we are looking forward to making a big dent in Kuwait. With the help of local supporters, we are planning to leverage our global reach to impact our local community.


This year’s event will be held from September 17 – 19 and a beautiful Al Tijaria Tower (35th floor) is confirmed as a venue. It’s open to everyone; people don’t need to pay anything for registration. They can participate as developers, designers or non-technicals. What should they bring? Laptop, power cord, internet connection (just in case) and, of course, lots of creative energy and enthusiasm.



All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. The whole schedule is available on the event’s website.


We are proud to have Alghanim Industries (Platinum) and VIVA (Gold) on board as sponsors and Coded,Cubical Services, GDG Kuwait, Coffee Villains, Sirdab Lab and Catalyze as partners.


Register (it’s free) for participation and don’t forget to follow Startup Weekend Kuwait on Instagram and Twitter. Feel free to post on social media under the official hashtag #SWkuwait.


Announcing: StartupQ8 Event for September 2015

We’re happy to announce a new StartupQ8 Event! Based on the feedback we’ve been receiving, this week’s event will cover a topic that resonate with many of you.

The first segment will try to shed light on Hiring for Startups. KuwaitNET founder and CTO Bashar Al-Abdulhadi will share his experiences making the first hires for KuwaitNET back when he first started the company, discuss what to look for in an early employee and how hiring varies as the company grows. The second segment will feature Adel Al-Ghannam, co-founder of Winch App, who will share what he learned from developing the app and insights into hiring and managing a different type of employee: service contractors.

The event will be on Tuesday September 8th at 7:15 PM. It will be held in collaboration with our friends at the VIVA Coded Academy in AlTijaria Tower, 35th floor. You can find the Google Map location here.

Here is the schedule:
7:15 – 7:20 Welcome
7:20 – 8:00 Hiring for Startups by Bashar Al-Abdulhadi
8:00 – 8:20 Networking break
8:20 – 9:00 Managing Contractors at Winch by Adel Al-Ghannam
9:00 – 9:30 Networking pizza

As always, the event will be in English and it is open to everyone (no need to register). Join our page for more details on our upcoming events.

See you there!

Announcing StartupQ8 Event for August 2015

We’re back! After a quiet summer we are organizing a couple of events for the startup community, and we’re hosting them in a new location (more below). This week’s event will try to answer two questions that many of you have been asking:

  • I have an idea for an app/website but don’t have technical skills. What do I do?
  • I’m coding an app/website but I don’t know if it is a good idea. What do I do?

The first subject will be addressed by Ali Abulhasan, co-founder of TAP Payments. He is currently managing a technical team that will roll out new features for TAP. The second subject will be addressed by Saleh Almusallam, founder of FanScan, which has been downloaded over a million times since its release.

The event will start on Tuesday August 11th at 7:30 PM. It will be held in collaboration with our friends at the VIVA Coded Academy in AlTijaria Tower, 35th floor. You can find the Google Map location here.

Here is the schedule:
7:30 – 7:35 Welcome
7:35 – 8:15 Managing software projects for non-technical founders
8:15 – 8:30 Networking break
8:30 – 9:10 Analyzing business feasibility for technical founders
9:10 – 9:30 Networking pizza

As always, the event will be in English and it is open to everyone (no need to register). Join our page for more details on our upcoming events.

See you there!

The Sweet Spot of Talabat’s Business

Hamad Mufleh has an interesting (as always) take on the Talabat acquisition and where it can lead us. The original post can be found here, but if you’re too lazy just read on.

PS: Context matters. The F bombs he is referencing were out of sheer surprise, not anger 🙂


The Sweet Spot Of Talabat’s Business

Talabat is the first tech unicorn of Kuwait, and it could be the last.

Mijbel broke the news in the Startupq8 whatsapp group..

“Guys, we got our 1st +100m startup.”

The reactions have all contained versions of the F-word. And rightly so. Talabat has managed to unseat Maktoob with a ~$170 million price tag and take over the title of Middle East’s Biggest Acquisition in tech. The hard work that put Talabat and, consequently, Kuwait on the map shouldn’t be understated or dismissed as money laundering.

Just a few days ago, a friend of mine asked me to look him in the eye as he told me to give up on tech startups in Kuwait. “Ma yamshi 3endena,” he said. I have to admit that I believed him for a second. My faith is renewed.. but I have to say this: I don’t think there’ll be another Talabat-size acquisition in the next 5–10 years coming from Kuwait. Well, maybe the game developer Lumba Inc. can pull it off. Maybe the guys at Nabdh will. But it’s incredibly hard to match that 9 figure. The reason has nothing to do with the lack of talent or hard work — although Kuwait generally has to make up a bit on that front.

Talabat was and continues to be in a sweet spot. Between Moh’d Jaafar’s purchase of Talabat in 2010 for USD ~$3 million and the sale at ~$170 million, the market had matured significantly. But why has it been so good for Talabat especially?

Well, here’s my best explanation..

Talabat offers value at the very base of Maslow’s pyramid — food!

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Startups at every level on Maslow’s pyramid have been valued/acquired with greater valuations (e.g. whatsapp, instagram). But the catch is this: the closer you are to the base, the higher your average customer lifetime value, and consequently, you’ll need fewer of them to achieve the high valuation. In the case of Talabat, they offered a service to an essential and frequent need. That commanded a decent CLTV.

Why does that matter? For a Kuwait-based startup, you have to operate knowing that your target market (Kuwait, or GCC) is a fraction of, say, the US where we usually see those high valuations. In a realistic best case scenario, you can take on all of the Middle East — but most of the Middle East is unbanked. In fact, the population size of those who have bank accounts and live on more than $5/day are estimated to be only 45 millionfor all of the MENA region, including the Gulf. With smaller markets, transaction frequency matters.

Talabat is piggybacking on the growth of four overlapping macro factors..

  1. growth in household income levels & purchasing power,
  2. growth & innovation in the restaurant industry,
  3. changing consumer habits towards lazy on-demand meals, instead of home cooked. My mom knows this one too well.
  4. growth in mobile penetration and usage. The shift from desktop to mobile upended the entire tech industry, but not Talabat, which positioned itself well to serve the always-on mobile customers.

All without the operational headache of running a restaurant chain

Several entrepeneurs have started amazing food concepts and are doing remarkably well. PICK is one of my favorite examples. But the sheer challenges that surround the operations — expanding physical locations and kitchen to mention two — can wear down any energetic, focused and hard working entrepreneur. This is not to understate the challenges that Talabat faced, but to emphasize that scaling a technology-based business that exists largely online can be done relatively faster, especially in a country that ranks low in the business friendliness index (and dropping every year).

It managed to convince businesses and customers to pay a small fee on every transaction

I asked friends to help come up with alternative startup ideas that fit all these criteria combined: a scalable tech, a sizable market, a transaction-based revenue model, and a frequent need. We failed.

Talabat is the first tech unicorn of Kuwait. And it could very well be our last. That being said, there’s still hope for the rest of us at the 6–8 figure level. Cheer up amigos!

Announcing: StartupQ8 Event for February 2015

UPDATE: Both co-founders of Jaribha will attend the event.

We’re excited to announce the first StartupQ8 Event of 2015! Join us on Monday, February 2nd as we welcome two well-traveled entrepreneurs who will share their experiences with us.

The first segment will feature app developer Mazyad AlAbduljalil, a long time member of the StartupQ8 Community. He has developed apps from Kuwait to San Francisco, and will share his insights into how to build a mobile app MVP. Also this month, Mohammed AlBesharah and Saleh AlTunaib, co-founders of Jaribha, will talk about the challenges they face as an entrepreneur building a crowd-funding platform in Kuwait. As always,Global Investment House has graciously agreed to host the talk.

See you guys Monday Feb 2nd at 7:20 pm!


7:20 – 7:30 Intro
7:30 – 8:10 Mobile App MVP with Mazyad AlAbduljalil
8:10 – 8:20 Mini-break
8:20 – 9:00 An interview with Mohammed AlBesharah & Saleh AlTunaib
9:00 – 9:20 Networking

As always, the event will be in English and it is open to everyone. Register for FREE on our page for more details.

See you there!

Announcing: StartupQ8 Event for November 2014

Here at StartupQ8 HQ, we always try to put together events that are educational, insightful and fun for our entrepreneurial community. This month’s event is one we’re particularly excited about, more so than usual.

Ask any early-stage entrepreneur you know what accelerator they would join if they can join any accelerator in the world, and the overwhelming majority will give one of two answers: Y Combinator or TechStars. While the former has a very impressive portfolio, it is TechStars that has stronger mentorship, smaller classes and more ecosystem emphasis.

We’re thrilled to announce that TechStars Managing Partner Mark Solon will speak at this month’s event. Mark isn’t your typical Silicon Valley VC. He has helped build successful businesses and develop communities in smaller towns such as Boise and Boulder. He is visiting Kuwait with Kevin Tapply, and is going to share his insight on startup fundraising.

Speaking of successful businesses, our entrepreneurial chat this month will feature a founder who was not content to just develop a top ten downloaded app for Kuwait, so he went and built one with 3 million users (and growing) from all over the Arab world. We’re pleased to welcome Abdur-Rahman El-Sayed, co-founder and CEO of Waveline Media, as our entrepreur interview. He has been instrumental in building three great products: Yabila, Nabd, and Elektron Games. If any entrepreneur has real insight into how to scale an app in the Arab World, it is him.

Since this is a milestone event, we are co-hosting it with other tech related communities in Kuwait: Google Developers Group, who have kindly allowed us to encroach on their usual meetup time, and KW Tech Meetup, who will showcase some up-and-coming Kuwati startups during the event. The event is on Wednesday November 19th, starting at 7:00 pm in Global Tower.


7:00 – 7:05 Welcome
7:05 – 7:55 Mark Solon on Fundraising
7:55 – 8:50 Abdur-Rahman El-Sayed interview
8:50 – 9:15 Startup Demos
9:15 – 9:30 Networking

As always, register on our page and we’ll remind you to attend. We expect a strong attendance so get there early. See you all there!

The Coffee Meetup is moving to a new home

The StartupQ8 Coffee Meetup is moving to a new home.

After getting feedback from you guys, we realized we needed to change things up to make the coffee meetups more engaging and productive. Therefore, we will no longer do it in a coffeeshop. Instead, we will be holding the meetup at Sirdab Lab in Dasman Complex. Start time has also moved up to 7:00 pm.

This week, we’re happy to have Hala Fadel as our coffee meetup guest. For those unaware, Hala is the chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the pan-Arab region, runs the prestigious MIT-EF Arab Startup Competition. Past meetups with visiting guests were incredibly well attended, and we look forward to more of the same.

Details here:

See you guys tomorrow..

When: Monday, October 20, 2014 7:00 PM and every Monday thereafter (except holidays and Monthly Event Mondays)

Where: Sirdlab Lab
Dasman Complex (Google Map is on our meetup page)


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