Announcing Coffee Meetup + Basics of Digital Marketing Talk

This Wednesday, the StartupQ8 Coffee Club Meetup will take place at The VIVA Coded Academy, Kuwait’s first coding school. The meetup is a chance  for local entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to meet, network, share ideas and collaborate.

This week, the Coffee Meetup will proceed a talk on the Basics of Digital Marketing by Abdulaziz BuKhamseen as part of the VIVA Coded Academy’s speaker of the week event.

Abdulaziz is the creator of Kuwaitiful.com, one of the top blogs in Kuwait. He has worked as head of digital marketing for payment startup Next Payment, and is currently handling major parts of online marketing for the Al-Babtain Group.

The talk will be most useful for those who want to understand how to best utilize paid online marketing via search engines and social networks. These basics are a must for anyone involved in a startup, so don’t miss it!

 

Here are the details:

When: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Schedule:

7.15 pm- Coffee Club Meetup (More info here)

7.45 pm- Basics of Digital Marketing Talk (More info here)

9.15 pm- Networking and, of course, pizza!

Where: The VIVA Coded Academy in Al-Tjaria Tower 35th floor (Al-Soor Street, downtown Kuwait)

 

See you all there!

RECAP: StartupQ8 Monthly Event (August ’15)

Every month, StartupQ8 hosts two speakers from the startup world to talk to the Kuwaiti startup community about some of the lessons and experiences they’ve went through, and talk about the startup they’re currently working on. Last night, the event took place at The VIVA Coded Academy. The two speakers were Ali Abulhasan, co-founder of goTap, a new payment ecosystem for Kuwait, and Saleh Almusallam, co-founder of Prodesign IT, the makers of FanScan (Instagram based app that has over 3 million downloads).

The two topics of discussion were mirrored around how a technical founder deals with the business side of a startup (Saleh’s part), and how a business founder manages a technical project and a development team (Ali’s part).

Both speakers offered valuable insights on their respective approach. For Ali, he admitted having initial trouble bridging the gap between himself and his technical team. One of the ways he mitigated that was by educating himself on some of the fundamentals of software as related to his field (payments) in which he already had previous experience. The other way was for him to board on developers who had the right mindset for a Tap’s philosophy of focusing on user experience. Ali admits that he would love to have more developers on his team, but that a lack of coding talent has restricted him greatly in that sense (we hope our Coded students can solve that problem!). To combat that issue, he tries to work with freelancers who might have the potential and intention to become full-timers at Tap.

As for Saleh, he faced a different dilemma. Saleh is a technical founder, and has had experience launching a few applications and websites. In his talk, he discussed the importance of learning on how to stay “lean”. He warned that the biggest pitfall for a technical founder was not in disregarding the business side, but rather the need to perfect a product before launching. Saleh advised the audience that “done is better than perfect”, alluding to the importance of launching a product early to gain feedback and data on usability. As for dealing with the business side, Saleh is a believer in first making something people love, than backing that up with venture financing and a strong business model that comes naturally with the product. He did, however, warn against sticking to a single revenue stream or remaining inflexible when it comes to changing the business model.

 

Stay tuned for more of our monthly events to hear more from startup founders and entrepreneurs! Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Instagram @startupq8

Internet Security and Tech Entrepreneurship talk by Dr. Yaser Alosefer

Everyone,

Instead of our usual weekly coffee meetup, we’d like you to join us for the following talk:

The VIVA Coded Academy is hosting Dr. Yaser Alosefer this week for a talk on Internet Security and tech entrepreneurship.

Yaser is the region’s foremost expert in Internet Security, holding a PhD in the subject from Cardiff University. He is also the founder and CEO of Musbah Technology (Riyadh), one of the region’s leading startups in innovation. He is also the co-founder of several other successful initiatives and business ventures.

The talk will cover topics on electronic wars, ethical hacking, secure coding and software development. Yaser will also touch on his experience as a startup founder and entrepreneur.

 

Here are the details:

 

When: Wednesday, August 5th. Doors open at 7.30 pm, talk will start at 8 pm.

Where: The VIVA Coded Academy HQ, Al-Tijaria Tower (35th floor), Kuwait City.

 

Yaser is here for a few days from Saudi, so it’ll be a great chance to meet him and hear his thoughts.

 

See you all there!

 

Coverage of the 8th MIT Enterprise Forum – A few pictures

A few pictures of the participants and judging phases of the 8th MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition that took place in Kuwait, April, 2015.

Credit and special thanks to Mariam Al-Rayes and the MIT EF Pan Arab organizing team for the pictures and for putting together truly inspiring, thought provoking, and informative event.

Coverage of the 8th MIT Enterprise Forum – Day 1: Awards and Panels

The 8th MIT Enterprise Forum officially got underway last night in Kuwait. From the opening speech delivered by MC Talal Malik, I could feel the crowd growing in anticipation for what was to come (especially the startup teams who were waiting for the announcement of the Arab Startup Competition winners!).

 

The forum kicked off with a fireside chat between Hala Fadel (Chair, MITEF panArab) and Mr. Mohammad Abulaziz Alshaya (Executive Chairman, M.H. Alshaya Co.). Alshaya’s success story, dating back to his grandfather in the late 1800’s, was truly inspiring. It was very apparent in Alshayaa’s answers how confident he was in Arab youth and what they could aspire to be. He continuously underscored three important factors for realizing success:

Passion

Curiosity

Hard work

 

For me, the highlight of the chat was Alshaya’s belief that “government should stop guaranteeing jobs”, pointing out that such policy kills motivation among youth, especially in the GCC.

 

Next on the agenda was the Panel titled “The Missing Link: From Startup to Global Powerhouse”. The main topic of discussion was underlining the required infrastructure and mentality for startups to grow into global industry leaders. On the panel were Sheikha Al-Zain Al-Sabah, Mohammad Jaffar (former CEO of Talabat), Tarek Sultan (CEO at Agility), and Hala Fadel.

 

The different backgrounds of the panelists made for an extremely insightful discussion.

 

From a governmental and infrastructural perspective, Al-Sabah believes that there needs to be disruption and reconfiguration in the way government supports the startup ecosystem. She called for youth to provide change from the inside.

Jaffar, who lead Talabat from a local player to a regional powerhouse, believes that entrepreneurs must possess an extraordinary work ethic and commitment. He also stressed the importance of remaining transparent, honest, and socially responsible; three factors to which he accredits a lot of Talabat’s success

From a Kuwaiti global company’s perspective, Agility’s CEO Tarek Sultan pointed out the strategic significance of understanding where you come from as a company, and what that entails in terms of limitations and opportunities. He remarked that Agility’s global success stemmed from its fundamental understanding of the market in initially operated in, and then building upon that.

 

By the end of both panels, I was left feeling extremely optimistic that the startup ecosystem would continue to flourish in the Arab world because today’s leaders are willing to instigate and adapt change and disruption.

 

At the end of the night, the winners of the MITEF Arab Startup Competition were announced, as follows:

 

Startups Track: Colorbug- UAE (First Place), Project IO- Jordan (Second Place), ScreenDy- Morocco (Third Place)

Ideas Track: Kotobna- Egypt (First Place), ConCure- KSA (Second Place), Nano Ebers- Egypt (Third Place)

Social Entrepreneurship Track: Visualizing Impact- Lebanon, Tahrir Academy- Egypt, La Perle de la Mer- Morocco

 

Congratulations to all the winners, who were all truly outstanding.

 

Catch our coverage of the second (and last day)) of the forum tomorrow!

 

Pictures from the entire duration of the event will be posted soon in a different post (as soon as we get them, we promise).

 

 

 

Coverage: 8th MIT Enterprise Forum – Arab Startup Competition Elevator Pitch Day

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!

Photo Apr 20, 14 22 35 Photo Apr 20, 14 22 46 Photo Apr 20, 14 22 53

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